Monthly Archives: June 2016

Wizard vs. Cynic – Summary of Learning

Sorry, it’s really long. My summary of learning tries to demonstrate how there are two different perspectives for every issue discussed in class. While I seem to often stand somewhere in between (but mostly pro-tech), it was amazing to engage in such critical dialogue with peers.

I also apologize for the lack of theme music so if you need your fix:

It’s been a pleasure, people. Have a fabulous summer!

  • Koskie Out!

Filed under: 21stedchat, digitalcitizenship, eci830, Edchat, edtech

Debate #8: Unplug? Yes please!

A few times this semester I’ve experienced cosmically comic timing.  Like when I argued that technology was making us unhealthy while I was home with the stomach flu.  Seriously, you are all lucky I did not throw up while debating on screen.  This week’s debate was similarly ironic; let’s have a debate about unplugging in a digitally mediated manner!  Going into the debate I felt mentally fried with the hours of screen time spent on report cards and the summary of learning.  With this tech over-exposure fresh on my mind (well, maybe not fresh… festering perhaps?) I desired nothing more than to unplug!

22605513313_721c7c4b7d_m
Feeling overwhelmed?

Photo Credit: Carbon Arc via Compfight cc

I associate unplugging with freedom from the intrusions of others into my life to use up my time and energy.  I imagine being at a cabin or camping with loved ones.  I see nights dark enough to view all the stars.  I smell campfires and the musk of damp boreal forest.  I hear waves lapping upon rocks and docks.  To unplug from technology is to reconnect with nature and with people face-to-face and I find this re-connection invigorating.

lake 1
Can’t wait to get back to this view this summer!

 

However, technology enhances my life in ways that are easy to forget when the tech is ubiquitous and fits seamlessly into my existence.  The video about The Internet of Humans and Things posted by the disagree team made me think about the useful technologies I do not want to unplug from.  For example, I have little desire to permanently disconnect from the technologies that provide heating and cooling, make household chores easier, tell me the weather, track my fitness, or allow me to communicate with my family and friends.

I consider myself to be at the tail end of the Oregon Trail generation.  We grew up before the influx of mainstream digital technology.  To me, unplugging means disconnecting from social media, disabling Wi-Fi, or turning off my phone.  However, I still want to be able to access TV, the radio or music, and even the phone for emergencies.  Other generations or cultures may conceptualize unplugging differently.  Perhaps this means chopping wood, washing clothes by hand, writing handwritten letters, or forgoing electricity altogether.

At this point in my blog I would like to make a few nerdy connections to Don McKay’s book Vis a Vis: Field Notes on Poetry & Wilderness (2001), specifically his essay on the invisibility/ visibility of tools.  His statement that “(d)igital technology tends to become invisible”(p. 58) challenges my idea of unplugging.  If the technologies I rely on for my quality of life have become invisible to me, how can I fully unplug?  Perhaps I don’t even recognize the extent of my tech use.

As an aside, McKay also challenges my toy vs. tool blog from earlier this semester.  He writes “(w)hen slow and suspicious people offer resistance to the spread of computers, they are often mollified… with the expression’it’s just a tool’ “(p. 58).  The problem with this logic, he argues, is that this tool’s invisibility is seductively deceiving as illustrated in the following quote:

“Man becomes as it were the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms.  The machine world reciprocates man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely by providing him with wealth.”

Marshall McLuhan

Just as humans have domesticated other animals, the argument is that we are now domesticating ourselves to technology by living to serve our technology and shaping our lives to fit it.  McKay writes, “(a)t a certain level of dependence the power shifts in the relation between user and tool.  We become, in Arthur Kroker’s memorable phrase, data trash” (p. 59).

Speaking of data trash, in the past few years I have felt the personal and professional strain of being over connected; some may say symptoms of addiction.  The stress, insomnia, and frustration that was wreaking havoc on my life were being fueled by my tech use; late night parent emails, planning lessons in bed when I couldn’t sleep, reading sub notes online while still on vacation.  The ultimate eye opener was in 2014.  I woke up at the cabin on the first day of summer holidays.  Everyone else was still asleep so I started skimming Twitter to see what cool connections I could make for my class the next fall.

lake 4
A beautiful sunset from that summer. Perhaps I should have been on the dock rather than on Twitter…

Through trial and error I have discovered that I need to create an off-switch for myself or I will never rest.  My guidelines for unplugging include being with the people I am with (not glued to a device), not taking my phone into the bedroom, and not reading all the comments.  As you can imagine the last one made this class challenging for me.  If there is one thing I wish I had done better in this course it would be engaging more in the comments section.  Usually I avoid comments because they destroy my faith in humanity, but this class has showed me that open dialogue and respectful discourse are possible in the comments section.  In the process of taking this class I have also discovered that I am much more of a digital consumer than producer.  I felt an acute sense of panic when I posted my first YouTube video for the summary of learning.

While my off-switch strategies help, they are not perfect.  Next school year I plan to set clear “office hours” so that parents can know not to expect emails from me after 5 pm.  I hope that this small change may help me take back my evenings while not completely unplugging from a great communication tool.

 

In the end, I still agree that we benefit from unplugging as long as we define unplugging carefully; a temporary hiatus from technologies that are imposing on our health and happiness.  This takes personal reflection and we can model this critical thinking process for our students.  Whatever unplugging means to you, I think it has value for our physical, mental, and social/ emotional health.  If the way you use technology is enhancing your life then do not feel pressured to unplug.  But if you can feel that it is taking a toll on your health and happiness, take a break to re-evaluate how you use these tools.


To Unplug or Not to Unplug… is that the question?

In a world so digitally dependent, where our entertainment, work and social relationships are deeply intertwined with technology, the concept of unplugging and walking away from social media and digital technology seems difficult, if not impossible.

Unplug Source

Even so, there are many that are concerned about this dependence — this need that we as a society have developed to be connected 24/7.   Many advocate for unplugging, suggesting that digital technology is bad for our brains, our productivity, our real-life relationships and that it causes anxiety and increases work-related stress.  Many suggest that social networks actually make us lonely and provide compelling arguments about why everyone should unplug more often. 

The Forbes article, Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely, expresses the concern that people use the internet to avoid our realities and “whether loneliness leads people to the Internet, or the internet to loneliness, it seems that many of us turn to the internet to avoid simply being with ourselves.”   It advocates for turning off our devices and spending time focused on real life relationships.  This is supported by the other article, Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often, which tells us that “scheduling regular “rest time” in the form of unplugging makes sense—like a muscle, the brain needs recovery time in order to develop and grow”

Brain Recovery Source

On the flipside, we have others arguing that unplugging is pointless, that technology is empowering and we should just use technology to relieve anxiety and stress.  To me, this seems dangerous.  I do not believe that increasing our use of digital technology, social networks and the internet are the solution to the social and personal ills that these things cause.

But I also do not believe that that everyone unplugging is the answer.  We cannot all simply disconnect.  We are too far down the rabbit hole for that.

Rabbit Hole Source

My classmate Steve talked last week about the challenge he does with his class, wherein he and all of his students unplug for a full month.  By the sounds of it, there are mixed levels of success from his students.  Although I see the attempt at doing this for a month as a very difficult challenge indeed, I do believe that there is merit in it.  Our students were born into a digital world, whereas many of us are able to remember a time when we were less digitally connected.  For them, the idea of being without their devices or internet access for a day,  let alone a month, is likely quite the challenge indeed.   A month might be a little extreme, but I do see the benefit of encouraging students to try to spend some time unplugged, interacting with real people, in a real environment.

I do believe that that looking critically at our personal digital technology and internet use, and perhaps curbing it a little might be worthwhile.  We’ve spent a lot of time in this course weighing the pros and cons of aspects of digital tech and seem to often come to the same conclusion — that it is fine in moderation, but can be dangerous.  If your usage is at the point of addiction, maybe it warrants a bit of a break.  Unplugging is rarely permanent, and does not need to be, but remembering that there is a whole real world out there is probably worth something.

 


Learning to Love the Machine

 

Over the course of this brief, but info-jam-packed term, a consistent theme has come out again and again: Technology is a tool that can be used for good or evil, and the more educated you are in using said tech safely and effectively, the fewer negative things will occur.

Moving into this week’s discussion, lets again put this overriding theme to the test, namely Have we become too dependent upon technology, and what we really need to do is unplug.

There are two thoughts that pop up in succession when I hear this: 1) That sounds like a great idea because I see so and so always on their device and it’s annoying to talk to them face to face; 2) If we all decide to bin our smart devices, then what? It’s not like this solves anything.

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that technology is ruining the way we as humans have built and maintained relationships since we began as a race, namely face to face communities of individuals. Sherry Turkle, is the mouthpiece for this view that we are alienating ourselves more and more through technology, and need to take a serious step back and reassess what we are becoming.

I can agree with her perspective to an extent. In my mind nothing is more sacred than quality face to face time with my family and friends, where we can have physical, face to face interactions where body language, an important part of how we as humans interact with one another, is in play. Check out Dr. Larry Rozen’s iDisorder for an in-depth look at this.

However, simply turning our backs on all the ills social media has caused to a variety of unfortunate individuals and groups will not make this issue go away, but in fact will allow said issues to proliferate. If anything, you are further alienating yourself from the world at large, like an older individual who swears off learning how to use a computer, then ‘contents’ themselves for the rest of their days watching the Weather Network and doing the same puzzle over and over. You are missing out on a lot, and have no frame of reference when trying to understand the way contemporary society interacts.

That said, there needs to be a balance put into place between how much screen time we give ourselves, and to be educated in how to do this.

Last fall, in ECI832, we discussed at length whether there continues to exist a dualism between ‘in real life’ or IRL, and the digital. Nathan Jurgenson’s ‘The IRL Fetish’ does a great job of digging deeper into whether unplugging is actually even a possibility, as in our current age, especially if we have been using social media to any extent, this duality between ‘real’ and ‘digital’ doesn’t actually exist. Rather, we are more aware than ever before of our ‘real’ interactions, and “to obsess over the offline and deny all the ways we routinely remain disconnected is to fetishize this disconnection.”

So, to conclude, I hope everyone, after taking this class, has been able to reflect and come to the same conclusion I presented at the beginning of this post, namely that education plays a role in creating a healthy balance, and recognizes the benefits of technology outweigh the potential negatives. As educators (and parents) we have the responsibility to assist our children to learn how to use the tech responsibly and effectively so they are able to independently make positive choices that will assist rather than hinder.

 

 


I Will Not Smile When the Battery Dies

The last ed tech debate, and the last time I will hear the sweet sweet beats of our EC&I 830 theme song, discussed the following: We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

The agree side, comprised of Janelle, Kyle, and Dean, argued that people are too reliant on technology and need to step away from devices. Constantly being connected to the web can be unhealthy. While being in online communities may seem like a great way to collaborate and find genuine support, many people feel more alone when their social media use increases. This article states being online “cannot … fulfill our deep innate need for intimacy, genuine connection and real friendship.” Interesting, I guess the friends I have made over the past 15 years from online gaming cannot be “real friendships.” Sorry, guys! Really, this assertion bothers me; I don’t think Margie is the all powerful wizard who can tell you if a friendship is real or not.

Last month, a friend I met on Guild Wars, when I was 15 years old, called me. He is 28 years old, from California, and has been a soldier in war since I have known him. We have stayed in contact for 10 years. He called me to let me know he is getting compensation for everything that he has been through. We stayed on the phone for two hours — discussing Trump *barf*, dating, politics, and successes and hardships throughout the year. Without technology, this type of friendship would never be possible. Sorry to break your bubble, Margie, but I consider this a very real friendship and a genuine connection. I wish we could stop arguing connections we make online are not genuine.

8906423-illustration-of-online-friends-having-a-good-laugh

Retrieved from https://5636spring13.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/socialization-part-2/

Technology has allowed me to keep important connections with people. One of my best friends is in Calgary and we have a traditional Skype session every Sunday (or Monday to discuss GoT). Do I wish we could meet in person? Of course! But I’ll take virtual Tanille over no Tanille at all. Additionally, I tend to travel a lot and meet a lot of people along the way. Two years ago I went to New Zealand and every year I have met up with a friend from Wales in the summer (she comes to Saskatchewan in two days).

I do think technology can encourage people to communicate less with people who are around us. I think it’s important for people to be aware of how they use technology when they are around other people. I get extremely frustrated when I am hanging out with friends and they are constantly checking their phones and texting other people. I usually just tell them to put their phone away if it’s getting out of hand, which leads to some awkward silences. I have noticed an increasing amount of students sitting in the common areas around the school, playing separate games in total silence and sometimes I wonder if this habit will hurt their ability to converse verbally with others. EA Prince argues that humans do need to unplug from technology to stay healthy:

I think he brings up some valid points. Although, his message would be more powerful if he didn’t tweet nine times today.  He brings up some previously discussed topics: the pageantry of vanity, selfishness, loneliness, and instant gratification. These are all problems we need to face, but I don’t think unplugging is the answer. I will not smile when the battery dies.

Danielle Istace defines unplugging similar to how I do:

“Unplugging to me, means disconnecting from all sources of non-face to face communication. Phones. Emails. FaceTime. etc. To me, unplugging, really means, becoming totally inaccessible. And, frankly, I don’t think this is necessary in order to get the cleansing effects of not using technology.”

Tayler, Nicole and Angela argued technology is a part of who we are and we will never truly unplug from it. Casey Kept discusses how unplugging from technology is not authentic because “the goal [of unplugging] isn’t really abstinence but a return to these technologies with a renewed appreciation of how to use them. Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas.” I think this is true. There is (maybe?) one person I know who has stayed off social media and severely limits their phone use. The rest of my friends’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts reappear after a few days. Can stepping away from social media and heavy internet use help people regulate what they do and how often they are online? Maybe. And if that’s the case, then I guess close your accounts for a few days.

But, like my on-and-off Keto diet, going to extremities isn’t going to last very long and you are, more than likely, going to fall into your old habits (whether it be food or technology use). People are better off with moderation. Don’t eat the cake (OK, a tiny sliver of cake). Keep the phone on the table when you are with family. Leave the phone in the tent when you are camping. Get used to the feeling of having technology accessible and choosing not to use it. Bonus: It will save battery life.

  • Koskie Out!

Filed under: 21stedchat, digitalcitizenship, eci830, Edchat, edtech

Unplugging from technology….Is this the answer?

 We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug.

The topic for our last debate was thought provoking to say the least. This idea had me looking at whether or not I am too dependent on technology. I quickly came to the conclusion that I fear many of us would. Yes!

cartoon

Source

I came across an article where you can check 7 signs we are too dependent on technology. Do any of these scenarios connect to you?

  1. If the internet is down, work is over for the day.
  2. Buyer’s remorse is much more common.
  3. You don’t live in the moment.
  4. Nobody knows a phone number.
  5. You are dreading having to break up with your significant other face-to-face.
  6. Brick and mortar stores are going the way of dinosaurs.
  7. Without your phone, you feel naked.

When the internet is down, luckily I’ve had plenty of experience. By now I have figured out how to continue on with my day without it causing too much of a disruption. I’ve definitely had buyer’s remorse, moments where I don’t live in the moment, I know very few numbers in my contacts and I do feel naked without my phone. I’m not sure if there is too much I can do about it, but being aware of my dependency is part of the battle we struggle with weekly after participating in the debates.

The agree side of the debate argued that social media is actually an anti-social network. The article, Text or Talk; Is Technology Making You Lonely? describes the impact social media has on making connections based on more than just an “app” and the loss of building personal connections and having actual face to face conversations. Quantity does not mean quality is certainly true for me. I have many friends on Facebook (Quantity) but I make a point of spending time with family and friends face to face (quality). I enjoy it immensely and I can’t imagine not making time for people who are important to me.  Internet was not around until after I was already an adult. I grew up only socializing in person, on the phone or the odd time, I wrote a letter. In many ways, I am very thankful that I didn’t have to grow up in a time of social media and You Tube. I can’t imagine what my digital footprint would look like today. Of course, it would be clean as a whistle!

digital footprint

Photo Credit:giulia.forsythe on Flickr (cc)

“Another recent study found that 48% of respondents only had one confidant compared to a similar study 25 years ago when people said they had about three people they could confide in.”

I found this finding interesting because I always wonder why? It would be much more difficult and complex to build sincere and life long friendships in a world of social media. Children say so many things that are cruel and mean to their friends and classmates. Sometimes to their face, but now these comments are said on social media. How can you trust someone at such a young age when you are trying to build relationships scattered out there for everyone to see?

Allison Graham’s Ted talk touches on many of the points discussed in this debate. Take a moment to watch if you haven’t already.

Another article the agree side shared was another interesting read. I found this quote really stood out to me.

“Compared to reading a newspaper or calling a friend for a long chat on the phone, social media encourages brief, unfocused, multitasking-friendly “check ins” rather than long periods of absorption.”

This is very well said and is absolutely right (in my opinion). If 93% of communication is nonverbal and only 7% is in writing, it is no wonder that studies are showing that social media is making people more lonely even though they have the MOST friends and or likes on Facebook.

The article also discuses the negative impact technology is having on people emotionally, mentally, and physically.

As the article points out, If multitasking and constant email cause a lack of productivity, negatively impact social relationships, and increase overall stress, can simply abstaining from using technology reverse these negative consequences? The simple answer, according to most research, is “yes.”

Finding time to unplug and take a break from technology is becoming a new trend. It makes sense that our brain needs time to rest and be given the opportunity to store short term memories. Due to these new found struggles with technology it is becoming more essential to take some time to “reboot.” There is now a National Day of Unplugging, special getaway experiences where real-life activities and bonding experiences are offered to help with the “withdrawal” of technology. One popular example is Camp Grounded in California where tech overloaded individuals participate in a gadget-free weekend.

 

Camp grounded

Source: Camp Grounded

I have no doubt that technology is here to stay, and with that, learning to adapt and adjust to this ever changing tech world rapidly whizzing by and surrounding us, will continuously be a struggle. Unplugging completely or for long periods of time is likely not the answer for me but I’d certainly consider it if the opportunity presented itself. I liked how Erin has set goals for herself and plans to take regular breaks from technology for short periods throughout each day.

To end off my final blog, I hope you take a moment to watch this inspiring, short video that I hope (but doubt) will be a reality some day. Enjoy!

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/about/excellent.html

 


The Final Countdown…

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug... That Is The Question.


It is obvious that our society is dependent upon technology.  Simply look at how we as teachers are required to input and track data.  Everything requires a device, Wifi, servers, and multiple online databases.  In the video Unplug to Play, Marv Minton starts off the Ted Talk with an image of kids "spending time together" as they are all on their devices.



I shared the first video this week  If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will, with my grade eight math class. They found it interesting and they agreed that it made some awesome points, but when we discussed what they do to put their phones down, it was a different story. They said they have rules about no phones/tech at the dinner table, but then explained that no one really follows that rule. Others shared that the only time they are really unplugged is when they go to remote locations for their family trips where there is no service.

Forgetting My Phone

memegenerator.net

Personally I enjoy getting getting away from my phone, but I do not do it enough. I love having my phone on me, when I forget it at home (once a year) I usually panic until about 10:30 then I can feel my heart slow down and I begin to relax a little. By the end of the day I usually realize how less stressed I feel and contemplate leaving my phone at home more often... which never happens.

Check out this awesome BuzzFeed about the 16 Stages of Leaving Your Phone At Home.


Full Unplug

In terms of completely unplugging I do not see this happening. In the article The Pointlessness of Unplugging by Casey Cep from the New Yorker said
"Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable." 
I have developed a lifestyle that is connected. I have made the choices to use technology to stay connected to family, friends, colleagues, etc. I have made the choice to do my part in helping the environment by going paperless in as many ways as possible; bills, communication, assignments, or sharing family information. I am not willing to give up the lifestyle I have worked hard to foster.


Communication

As for communication and being a proficient communicator, I feel that by growing up in the age I have I have a huge advantage over the youth of today. That brings me to the question of how to develop strong communicators within my classroom. As with most topics this semester I believe that technology can assist with this task. Through using tools like Google Read & Write students are forced to enunciate and be proficient with their English language for it to work properly. I also believe that giving students the opportunity to record their voices for presentations helps build confidence that will eventually turn into being able to stand up in front of their peers unaided and speak with confidence.


What Is The Answer


As with the concept that has followed through the class. To unplug or not unplug is to black and white of a statement. It should be about a balance. Is it appropriate to be on my phone/laptop/or simply watching TV while we are having a family dinner and attempting to have a meaningful conversation, obviously not. Is it acceptable to share a proud dad moment with family and friends when my child does something, or share that outstanding assignment that a student knocked out of the park. It's about sharing and spending quality time and then knowing when to put the technology down and live in the moment.

The Final Countdown…

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug... That Is The Question.


It is obvious that our society is dependent upon technology.  Simply look at how we as teachers are required to input and track data.  Everything requires a device, Wifi, servers, and multiple online databases.  In the video Unplug to Play, Marv Minton starts off the Ted Talk with an image of kids "spending time together" as they are all on their devices.



I shared the first video this week  If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will, with my grade eight math class. They found it interesting and they agreed that it made some awesome points, but when we discussed what they do to put their phones down, it was a different story. They said they have rules about no phones/tech at the dinner table, but then explained that no one really follows that rule. Others shared that the only time they are really unplugged is when they go to remote locations for their family trips where there is no service.

Forgetting My Phone

memegenerator.net

Personally I enjoy getting getting away from my phone, but I do not do it enough. I love having my phone on me, when I forget it at home (once a year) I usually panic until about 10:30 then I can feel my heart slow down and I begin to relax a little. By the end of the day I usually realize how less stressed I feel and contemplate leaving my phone at home more often... which never happens.

Check out this awesome BuzzFeed about the 16 Stages of Leaving Your Phone At Home.


Full Unplug

In terms of completely unplugging I do not see this happening. In the article The Pointlessness of Unplugging by Casey Cep from the New Yorker said
"Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable." 
I have developed a lifestyle that is connected. I have made the choices to use technology to stay connected to family, friends, colleagues, etc. I have made the choice to do my part in helping the environment by going paperless in as many ways as possible; bills, communication, assignments, or sharing family information. I am not willing to give up the lifestyle I have worked hard to foster.


Communication

As for communication and being a proficient communicator, I feel that by growing up in the age I have I have a huge advantage over the youth of today. That brings me to the question of how to develop strong communicators within my classroom. As with most topics this semester I believe that technology can assist with this task. Through using tools like Google Read & Write students are forced to enunciate and be proficient with their English language for it to work properly. I also believe that giving students the opportunity to record their voices for presentations helps build confidence that will eventually turn into being able to stand up in front of their peers unaided and speak with confidence.


What Is The Answer


As with the concept that has followed through the class. To unplug or not unplug is to black and white of a statement. It should be about a balance. Is it appropriate to be on my phone/laptop/or simply watching TV while we are having a family dinner and attempting to have a meaningful conversation, obviously not. Is it acceptable to share a proud dad moment with family and friends when my child does something, or share that outstanding assignment that a student knocked out of the park. It's about sharing and spending quality time and then knowing when to put the technology down and live in the moment.

Do we Need to Unplug to Create Balance?

This past week I have spent a lot of time analyzing how I go about my daily life with technology in it. As I moved from day to day throughout the past 7 days, I found myself asking if taking my phone with me certain places was really necessary. I noticed a lot. For example, in the mornings, when I get my daughter out of her crib, I find myself automatically grabbing my phone to take it with me to grab her. The thing is, if I were to get a phone call or text when I was getting her up in the morning, I wouldn’t stop what I was doing with her to answer it anyways, yet I am so programmed not to live without my device, that I just have it with me always.

As I moved through the week, I also took time to look at the people around me. Yesterday, for example, I was at the Belle of the Ball, (princess party) with my 3 year old. My daughter was so excited about seeing the princesses and wearing her princess dress, that it was impossible not to feed off of her enthusiasm and get caught up in the moment. When we got to the party, my first reaction was to want to capture every moment, so I could share it with my husband when I got home. And, well, to be honest, that’s kind of how the party started out…. and then I got to looking around the room. Cell phone after cell phone was out doing the exact same thing…capturing the moment, but we were all IN THE MOMENT, and very few seemed to be soaking it in first hand. It made me think about the video “I Forgot My Phone“, that Justine posted in her blog this week. There was more picture posing going on then dancing, and I took a step back, looked at my phone and decided to tuck it back into my pocket and take in the moment first hand. I didn’t need to turn off my phone, or leave it in the car to do this, I just simply put it away and enjoyed my daughter’s excitement with her in that moment. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

But, just becauseBraya princess I happened to take this picture, I’m going to share her cuteness with you all anyways! haha Sorry!!! What I did realize in this moment though, was that this one photo we took before we left the house, was enough.
The memory was there for her to look back on in the future, but capturing the moment did not need to be the main event of this special moment with her.

 

Throughout this past week I have spent a lot of time considering what Unplugging  means to me. I’ve also thought about if I feel that it is necessary. Awhile ago, I randomly came across this video on Facebook.

This week I wasn’t surprised to see it again when it came to the weekly readings. This young man makes some excellent points. He states that while “technology claims to connect us, connections have gotten no better”. I think he is right too. I agree that using devices enables us to avoid face to face interactions when we want, but also helps us to make connections to those who are far away with the touch of a button. I think it is something that we need to think about. There are definitely endless advantages to having technology accessible, but there is an URGENT need for people to find a balance of how much tech time is enough… or where that limit is when it comes time to put the phone away and plug into the reality around you.

Sophia Breene, guides us to consider many important points in her article Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often. She points out that “spending tons of time online can actively harm relationships, interpersonal communication skills, and mental health.” As we have gone through this class this semester, I think we would all agree that this is valid. What I disagree with however is the need to UNPLUG in order to prevent this from happening.

Here is why:

Unplugging to me, means disconnecting from all sources of non-face to face communication. Phones. Emails. FaceTime. etc. To me, unplugging, really means, becoming totally inaccessible. And, frankly, I don’t think this is necessary in order to get the cleansing effects of not using technology. Put your phone in your pocket, and keep your hand out of it. Put your phone on the counter, and leave it there. I don’t think there is a need for it to be totally unplugged, rather a balance needs to be created.

Last year, a friend of mine made the decision to unplug from technology from 10pm until 8am every week night. It seemed a harmless, and maybe even healthy idea. Here is what went wrong. One night, her father had a heart attack. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance and later passed away. Family from all around desperately tried to reach my friend, but was unable to reach her. Staying up-to-date with technology, she no longer had a landline and was virtually inaccessible during this emergency. As a result, she never made it to the hospital in time to see her father before he passed. To me, and my friend, this was a tragedy. Having to have someone drive to her house to get her in person, almost seemed like a blast from the technological past. But it was the reality of unplugging. 9223503647_e12e740835_b Photo Credit: Trojan_Llama via Compfight cc

This is just one reason why I don’t agree with unplugging. What I do propose instead, is to find a balance. Choose times/situations/ scenarios where you decide that your phone will not be pulled out. Create a balance and stick to it. It is all about setting limits and being true to them. It is just as freeing to put your phone on the shelf and leave it alone without having to turn off, if you can handle NOT checking it every 5 minutes. One thing that I have done is allocate special ring tones on my phone to my husband, siblings, parents, and daycare provider. This way, I can keep my phone with me and be aware that I am receiving text messages or phone calls, but not have to race to my phone when I am in the middle of other important daily events, without worrying I will miss an important call or text. This has worked really well for me until now. Alternatively, putting my phone on the “do not disturb” setting but including the people who need 24/7 access to me in my “favourites” is another effective way of being able to disconnect from technology without needing to be 100% unplugged. Through doing this, the people in my favourites, can still get through on my phone, while the beeps and bells on my phone notifying me of new Facebook posts, snapchats, instagrams, Google Plus community posts,  etc., can be minimized while I am plugging in to the reality around me, preventing me from missing life’s simple pleasures of day to day happenings.

Instead of unplugging, perhaps it would be better if the concept of “creating balance” catches on and helps people to develop and follow new protocols for how to connect (without going crazy) in the Internet Age. Sophia Breene has many helpful suggestions.

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Photo Credit: PaprikaMuffins via Flickr

Mary Beth Minton, had a helpful Ted Talk where she pointed out that it is easy to limit the screen time for children by “filling time playing in snow, laying on floor playing with toy, and sparking imaginative play”. I think if tech time is provided to children in moderation, balance can be created. Of course this also goes back to the role modelling that parents provide for their children. If parents limit their child’s tech exposure, but are constantly connected to their device, there will be inconsistency, and it will only be a matter of time before the child finds their way to being connected at all times like their parents.

So, there you have it. Do I think it is necessary to unplug? No. Do I think it is necessary to set boundaries to limit times and situations when devices should be present? Absolutely. As we become more comfortable with the way that technology is integrated into our everyday lives, I think, we, as humans, will become better at finding this balance, and in turn become better connected with the outside world we are living in. This is my hope, and my goal. I look forward to continuing to find this balance in my life, as I model this for my children as they grow and look up to me for guidance!

Thank you to everyone in my EC&I 830 class for helping me to open my eyes to the bigger tech. picture out there! I am so glad that we embarked on this journey together! I look forward to seeing many of you in the future in other grad courses along my way! Have a great summer everyone… and thanks for reading!

 


Summary of Learning!

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 830!

It was great starting this class and feeling somewhat confident in knowing that I had taken EC&I 832 in the Fall of 2014. Thankfully, I remembered what I was doing and was able to focus on writing and creating a blogpost with a little more flash to show the progress of my learning. Looking back on my very first post, reminds me how far I have come.

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I really enjoy the online format and learning from the class as a whole! The debate format was a hit and I am looking forward to taking my next technology course from Alec and Katia!

Have a great summer!