Connected, but lost.

Picture by  renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hyperlink or Hyperlost?

Looking closely at my use of the internet and technology over the past few weeks has brought me to three revelations: 1) I’m online A LOT and 2) you can get lost online really easily there’s some parts of the world out there I’m not a part of anymore.

Each summer I drive through my old town I grew up in. I see empty streets where there use to be kids playing baseball, riding their bikes and playing various other games. Where are the kids now? Inside playing computer games, watching tv, texting, surfing, and so forth. And it’s not just the kids, include the parents too.

My wife and I try to model good practice as much as we can for our daughters. We read to them, they see us frequently reading books, we make arts and crafts projects together, we go outside to play and ride scooters and bikes. We do activities together and try to incorporate nature as much as possible. But when they go to bed… BLAM! TV is turned on, out come the laptops, cell phones, and game consoles. It like the saying, “Do as we say, not as we do.”

I will say that as ironic as it sounds, a lot of what I do on line is communicate with others. Whether it’s twitter, facebook, skype, email, various websites or blogs I’m communicating. But how much is too much? Is it too much that I talk to a friend from college almost every day via a few messages back and forth? Is it too much that I sometimes talk to family in the states at ridiculous times due to the time difference between Asia and the states?  Or is it too much that I’ve sent my wife a text while she was in the other room? Where’s the balance? Professor Joanne Cantor said in Digital Overload: Too Much Technology Takes a Toll, “You own your gadgets,” Cantor said. “They don’t own you. They’re like newborn babies always clamoring for your attention. You need to know when to say no.”

I have recently become more an more connected online both professionally and socially. Even though I find these groups to be engaging and stimulating, I feel trapped sometimes. I have been using more and more hyperlinks for various reasons: to guide a friend to a site on music, help support a point like “less is more in schools,” or to give props to someone’s work that I’m using on my blog. I find creating hyperlinks to be very quick and useful. On the other side, I find that I can spiral myself into a hyperlink black hole too easily. If you’re not careful you’ll start reading a blog about technology in education and eight hyperlinks later you’re learning how to deep fry wontons. I’ve have to have a limit on how far I chase the white rabbit of links so I don’t get too lost.

I love using technology, but I need to go back to basics. I recently read the book girls Goodnight ipad by Ann Droyd to daughters.  It’s a modern day twist to the classic book Good Night Moon by  Margaret Wise Brown. In it Grandma bunny is surveying the room. Instead of getting ready for bed, the bunnies are: on their laptops, texting, playing video games, talking on their cells. Even baby bunny is sitting on the floor shaking a virtual rattle on a smartphone. Grandma takes everyone’s electronics one by one and disposes of them with cute little phrases:

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My girls love this book, but I wonder, for how long?

2 thoughts on “Connected, but lost.

  1. Thank you for sharing “Good Night ipad”. I gave up my iphone so that my daughter could have unlimited access to her friends in the states for the summer. I got a pay by the minute flip phone and didn’t tell anyone the phone number. My daughter acted as my personal secretary, giving me messages and even replying for me. I kind of liked it.

  2. It is easy to get online and loose several hours “chasing the white rabbit” as you put it. I use it as a reminder of how as an adult it is difficult to set and follow boundaries that allow me and my family to have a balanced life. Imagine how difficult it is for our students. It reinforces the importance of trying to establish habits and practice self control to those wonderfully random teens.

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