Category Archives: Health

Is Unplugging From Technology The Answer?

16ctrd

Photo Credit: Source

This week our eighth and final blog topic of the year was a quite fitting way to end our class.  The debate statement for this week was:

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

Agree or Disagree?

 

Janelle, Kyle, and Dean were debating on the agree side and debating against them on the disagree side was Tayler, Nicole and Angela.  Both sides did a fantastic job presenting their ideas to the class.  Tayler discussed in her blog post that she was hoping to argue the agree side on this debate because she felt more comfortable with the topic.  She made many great points throughout her blog and the one statement that stood out to me was, “I think I learned more than I ever could by arguing the opposite side of my initial beliefs.”  I think this shows that we need to take the time to look at topics through a new lens to allow us to gain new perspectives.  Personally going into the topic I was leaning towards the disagree side, but I wanted to be fair and listen to both sides to help me make my decision easier.

Photo Credit: Source

national-day-of-unpluggingWhen talking to friends about this topic many of them believed that we need to unplug especially our youth.  The agree side presented many articles that explained why society needs to begin to unplug.   There has been a huge movement that tells everyone how they need to unplug.  When I was reading Kelsie’s blog she mentioned her discovery about National Day of Unplugging and that was a huge surprise to me.   I agree with Kelsie that “It’s an interesting concept: connectiveness has become such a ubiquitous thing that we need a day specifically set aside to justify unplugging.”   In the chat on Tuesday she asked, “What includes “unplugging”? Just devices? Laptops included?”  When I think of this “National Day of Unplugging” I also ask myself the same questions.  What does unplugging look like?  I am allowed to use my stove or microwave to make supper?  Are these types of technology included in unplugging?

tunes

Photo Credit: Meme Generator

What does this mean for our children? 

I took EC&I814 Critical Perspectives on Preschool Education in the winter and was lucky to get into the summer early learning institute where I took EC&I811 Current Issues & Research in Early Childhood Education and EC&I813 Play & Learning.  In a Ted Talk Mary Beth Minton talked about the importance of unstructured play for kids and the need to make sure children unplug. From taking those classes from Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace taught me about how children need to experience play in all of the different forms.  I know when Damon and I start our family we want to make sure our children go outside to play and have the opportunity to experience different types of play.  During the class we were able to explore and experience play and art while we were learning about the topics in our syllabus.  I felt so calm after each class was over!  I was able to connect and have great conversations with others while we were playing and creating art.  I am not going to say that when Damon and I have children that they will not watch movies or television, but we will not let our children interact with technology for seven hours each day as discussed in the Ted Talk.

Photo Credit: BBcamerata via Compfight cc

Man yanking electrical cord

Kyle Ottenbreit discussed in the chat that it “may be easier for us to unplug rather than our children, who have grown up totally plugged in.” I think he raises a very good point because I can remember the days of no cellphones and high speed internet. The children of today and tomorrow have and will have very different childhood experiences than compared to the past generations.  I discussed in my blog, How Is Social Media Impacting Childhood?”,  that we can not compare our childhoods.  In Andres blog post he discussed his experience with talking about our debate topics with his grade 5/6 class.  I was interested in reading the students answers to Andres’ question “What is something you wish you could experience that your grandparents or older generations have told you about when they were your age.” 

Some of the students wished for:

  • “not having technology”
  • “being free to do anything you want, and not being connected to everything and everyone all the time”

The students explained they believe “that that their parents and grandparents had more interesting upbringings than them, and that they wish they could do some of the things their family members did when they were young.”  I would be interested to here the responses from grandparents if you changed the question to: What is something you wish you could experience that your grandchildren and younger generations have told you about growing up in today’s world?  Would grandparents mention that they wished they had technology? I encourage you to check out Andres’ blog to see the pros and cons to technology list that his class made.  His class came up with lots of great ideas!  Thank you Andres for demonstrating the importance to have conversations with our students about the topics they we explored in EC&I830.  I do not know if we need to encourage our students to be apart of long tech free challenge’s, but I so believe that we need to educate our students about the Ribbles 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  The two elements that link to this topic very well are:

Photo Credit: Taken from Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

digtal etiquette

 

*Digital etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.

Technology users often see this area as one of the most pressing problems when dealing with Digital Citizenship. We recognize inappropriate behavior when we see it, but before people use technology they do not learn digital etiquette (i.e., appropriate conduct).   Many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette.  Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use. It is not enough to create rules and policy, we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society.”

digtal health

Photo Credit: Taken from Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

*Digital Health & Wellness:  physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.

Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices are issues that need to be addressed in a new technological world.  Beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction.  Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology. Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training.

 

In this video the gentleman discussed how there are so many iMacs, iPads, and iPhones and our world is filled with many “I’s” and “selfies” and there needs to more of a focus on “us” and “we.”  He stated that Facebook should be an “Anti Social Network.”  Throughout his video he explores technology and social media.  Here are some of the main thoughts from his video:

  • broken friendships
  • big friend lists, but many are friendless
  • measure self worth from likes and followers
  • media causing over simulation
  • wanting to meet with friends talk to talk instead of talking through Skype
  • wanting conversations without abbreviation

The end of the video he talked about how he does not want to ruin special moments with a phone by taking videos, photos, or selfies.  Is technology ruining special moments? This reminded me of a video that I discussed in my “Selfie Sticks! Get Your Selfie Stick” post from EC&I832.  The idea of technology ruining special moments also connects to another video called I Forgot My Phone.

 

Have we become to dependent on technology, especially our cell phones? 

The agree side shared an article with us written by Margie Warrell called Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely? In the article it discussed how “Social media allows us to control what we share” and “We can pick and choose which photos we share and craftily edit our words to ensure we convey the image we want others to see.”  Are we representing ourselves in a way that truly reflects who we are?  In the article it lists different ways to build a social network away from using technology.

Strategies For Building A Real Social Network:

  1. Unplug
  2. Become a better listener
  3. Engage in your community
  4. Practice Conversation
  5. Find like minds
  6. Reconnect with long lost friends
  7. Invite people over

So does this mean…

Disconnect-from-technology-reconnect-with-each-other

Photo Credit: Source

I am not 100% sold on the idea that if I disconnect from technology that I will reconnect with others.  If I was to follow the words on the image above I WOULD NOT reconnect with my family!  I use technology ALL THE TIME TO CONNECT WITH MY FAMILY I call my family on a regular biases and often we use Facetime so we are able to see each other.  I absolutely love this advertisement because it showcases how Facetime has truly helped me feel better about living away from my family.

As I discussed in a previous post:

I am the only person in my family who does not live where I was raised so it is nice to be able to Facetime with my family when I am not able to make it to special events that happen during the week.  My nephew and I have so much fun when we Facetime each other.  He tells me about play school, what they did during the day, and shows me all the new things that he has learned.  I love watching my ten month old niece and her reactions when my sister turns the phone to her so I can say hi.  Her expressions on her face is priceless!

Casey N. Cep wrote an article called “The Pointlessness of Unplugging.”  The parts that stood out to me were when it discussed people’s unplugging announcements:

  • “#digitaldetoxing”
  • “leaving Facebook for a while to be in the world”

She explores how “the Day of Unplugging is such a strange thing” and that “Those who unplug have every intention of plugging back in.” I found the comment about “leaving Facebook for a while to be in the world” very interesting because so many people do not realize that the “online world” and “offline world” are connected to each other.  This relates to what I learned about digital dualism and augmented reality in EC&I832.  I would never go online and state that I am leaving the online world and going on a digital detox. I am grateful for technology especially on a day like today!  My husband works with Saskpower and this weekend with all of the storms he has been very busy trouble shooting different outages so he can get the power turned back on.  I appreciate technology because he can update me if he is going to be home late through a quick text message and let me know he is safe in between jobs.   I can even download different apps onto my phone to help relieve stress and anxiety.  These types of apps can help me reconnect to myself! There are so many positive to technology!

 Photo Credit: Source

Unplug-4

I am very excited to reenergize this summer as my brain feels like I have been running a marathon! Shannon and so many fellow classmates have discussed the importance of balance and moderation.  I believe life is about balance and moderation, but  I also believe that it just takes time find the correct balance for yourself.  My balance and moderation for technology might look different than yours, but that is okay.  Everyone has different needs and personalities so we need to stop judging each other.  I thought Luke included an excellent quote in his post that connects to my thoughts on this topic of unplugging. The quote written by Anne Lamott states “Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes…Including you!” I believe this quote also connects very well to my philosophy!  I thought Angela stated it best in her post that  “…being connected in a balanced way enhances our realities and gives us opportunities to become our “best selves.”  I could relate to Nicole’s post because I am also ready to take a step back from technology for the summer.  I have enjoyed every class so much as each class has helped shape my teaching practices and philosophy.  I have not taken a break from classes since summer of 2014 so I need to unplug for a few minutes to recharge and get ready to work again for my new grade two class in the fall.  Does that mean that I will not turn on my computer to do planning over the summer?  Or that I will not log into Facebook or Twitter all summer long?  Absolutely not!  One of the ways that I recharge and reenergize is by being connected to my family and friends! 

 

IMG_1367I am looking forward to have more time to spend with my husband and not having to be so connected to technology to get my assignments complete and marking entered.  I want to thank my husband Damon for being so supportive while I was taken classes towards getting my Masters Curriculum and Instruction.  I am so grateful to have him in my life and that he was able to pick up the slack in the areas that I was not able to do as much at home, especially the semesters that I had to drive to Regina!

Also thank you to everyone who I have attended classes with.  I have learned so much from each and every person!  A big thank you to all the amazing professors I have had throughout these last two and a half years.  I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from Alec and Katia for three semesters.  Thank you for designing courses that have given me a deeper understanding of educational technology.  I know my students have and will continue to benefit from everything I learned from those classes.  Finally thank you to everyone who took EC&I830.  I hope everyone has an amazing summer with family and friends!  Good luck to those who are continuing to pursue their degree and congratulations to everyone who has finished their Masters now!!  I look forward to seeing you at convocation in October. I have met so many fantastic educators through out my ten classes and students are so lucky to have those amazing and smart people as there teachers!  I thought this was a fitting by to end my 60th and final post:

 

drseuss597903

 

Photo Credit: Source

 


Unplugging. What does it mean to you?

We ended our semester with a final Great Ed Tech Debate and it was definitely a great debate. The focus was looking at whether or not we have become too dependent on technology and if what we really need is to unplug. I think this is an extremely important topic to discuss for everyone, not just those of us in our class.  Technology has become a part of our modern day lives, but do we rely on it too much? Do we really need to be on our phones as much as we are? 

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

The first group agreed that we do need to unplug because we are becoming too dependent as well as lonely. The connections that we make online may give us a false sense of our ‘real life’ relationships. Even though we are more connected now than ever before, many people are feel more lonely. As humans we crave intimacy and scientists have proven that to be intimate you need to be vulnerable which requires courage. Social media removes vulnerability and courage because we can pick and choose what we want to say, when we want to say it and how we want to say it. I’m sure we’ve all written a status or post to go back and re-write it 2 or 3 times until it’s exactly the way we want it to sound (or hope it to sound). It is interesting to think about that when we think about all of the statuses and updates we read in a day. How many are authentic? Or are they all authentic? Maybe even more authentic because we have the opportunity to think about what we want to say and put our thoughts together in a way that really gets our points out there?

Studies have also found that using technology can be just as addictive as drugs and that many millennials are becoming attached to their phones.  I think that there is a lot of pressure for students to keep up with everything on social media. Even for myself, I often find myself suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) even though my friends and family don’t even update things that much. I find myself going back and forth between different social media apps throughout the day checking in to make sure I didn’t miss some major announcement like an engagement, pregnancy or birth. The constant ‘need’ to check in seems to be something that just happens naturally throughout the day. It’s almost as if I do it without thinking…it’s an automatic action. I often wonder why I feel the need to check in so often. I’m really not missing out on anything but the moment that’s happening right in front of me in ‘real life’. I try to make a conscious effort to put my phone in a different room while I am with my kids so that it’s not a distraction. But then they start doing something cute and I immediately go to reach for my phone to capture them on camera. Not having my phone with me, I usually run to grab it and by the time I get back the moment has passed. If I had my phone I would have been able to capture the moment.

Photo Credit: Martino's doodles via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Martino’s doodles via Compfight cc

But does capturing the moment on my phone have the same affect as capturing it with my own eyes without my device? A study has shown that we enjoy some moments more when we capture it with our phones. I would totally agree with these findings. However I do think that there is a difference between experiencing something while capturing every moment of it with our phones and experiencing it without capturing every moment with our phones. I think that taking pictures/videos can be a great way to experience an event. It’s nice to have something to look back on. But just like everything else I think there needs to be a balance. At a Garth Brooks concert I was at a few weeks ago, a lady in front of me recorded the WHOLE THING on her phone! She was basically watching the whole concert through her phone screen. Half the time the image being recorded was blurry because she was zoomed in and she wasn’t able to follow him the whole time because he moved all over. We made the comment that she will wake up in the morning and realize that wasn’t the best decision. Now if she had a tripod or something set up to record it so she could watch the whole thing in person and then be able to watch a quality recording of the video the next day, that would be a different story. I took some videos and a few pictures, but I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time because I would miss out on the experience I wanted in going to see him. I can watch youtube videos of his performances any day, so I wanted to make sure that I took it all in while I was there in person. Did I take some pictures and videos? Of course I did…two pictures before of me and the people I was with, and three short Snapchat videos of a few of my favourite songs. Do I regret not taking more? Not one bit.

Moving to the disagree side I have to admit I completely agree that it almost seems impossible to fully unplug. Even when we are in our cars, going for a walk or run, camping, travelling we are connected in someway. We use our phones to capture images that we will most likely share when we get a chance. Even when we are offline we are thinking about the online world. In reality, our offline and online worlds are not two distinct parts of our lives, they are our whole lives existing as one augmented reality.  It’s pretty clear that our online lives can exist without a lot of our offline lives, but do our offline lives depend on our online lives in the same way? Our offline lives existed long before our online lives, but this isn’t the case for our children who have been born with a digital life right from the day they were born without having any say about it. The idea of unplugging is something that our children will have to learn to manage more than we have had to because technology is still fairly new for most of us (10-15 years). Unplugging may also mean something different to each person. To me, unplugging is stepping away from social media most of all, and putting away our devices. I personally don’t worry about unplugging from TV but maybe that’s because I don’t use it too often, or I feel like when I do use it it’s to watch the news or a movie with my kids which I would consider to be positive uses.

Technology certainly plays a large role in our lives. It allows us to connect with people near and far. We can network, build friendships, meet new people and find communities that we feel welcome in. It allows us to video chat or FaceTime with no added cost. It helps us manage our personal lives including our mental and physical health. I think we can all see value in technology and appreciate social media but we have to be aware of the amount of time we spend on the devices we have. When it starts to take precedence over quality time spent face to face with our family, friends, spouses and kids I think we need to take a step back and think about how we can unplug and reconnect with the people around us.

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc


Unplugging. What does it mean to you?

We ended our semester with a final Great Ed Tech Debate and it was definitely a great debate. The focus was looking at whether or not we have become too dependent on technology and if what we really need is to unplug. I think this is an extremely important topic to discuss for everyone, not just those of us in our class.  Technology has become a part of our modern day lives, but do we rely on it too much? Do we really need to be on our phones as much as we are? 

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

The first group agreed that we do need to unplug because we are becoming too dependent as well as lonely. The connections that we make online may give us a false sense of our ‘real life’ relationships. Even though we are more connected now than ever before, many people are feel more lonely. As humans we crave intimacy and scientists have proven that to be intimate you need to be vulnerable which requires courage. Social media removes vulnerability and courage because we can pick and choose what we want to say, when we want to say it and how we want to say it. I’m sure we’ve all written a status or post to go back and re-write it 2 or 3 times until it’s exactly the way we want it to sound (or hope it to sound). It is interesting to think about that when we think about all of the statuses and updates we read in a day. How many are authentic? Or are they all authentic? Maybe even more authentic because we have the opportunity to think about what we want to say and put our thoughts together in a way that really gets our points out there?

Studies have also found that using technology can be just as addictive as drugs and that many millennials are becoming attached to their phones.  I think that there is a lot of pressure for students to keep up with everything on social media. Even for myself, I often find myself suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) even though my friends and family don’t even update things that much. I find myself going back and forth between different social media apps throughout the day checking in to make sure I didn’t miss some major announcement like an engagement, pregnancy or birth. The constant ‘need’ to check in seems to be something that just happens naturally throughout the day. It’s almost as if I do it without thinking…it’s an automatic action. I often wonder why I feel the need to check in so often. I’m really not missing out on anything but the moment that’s happening right in front of me in ‘real life’. I try to make a conscious effort to put my phone in a different room while I am with my kids so that it’s not a distraction. But then they start doing something cute and I immediately go to reach for my phone to capture them on camera. Not having my phone with me, I usually run to grab it and by the time I get back the moment has passed. If I had my phone I would have been able to capture the moment.

Photo Credit: Martino's doodles via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Martino’s doodles via Compfight cc

But does capturing the moment on my phone have the same affect as capturing it with my own eyes without my device? A study has shown that we enjoy some moments more when we capture it with our phones. I would totally agree with these findings. However I do think that there is a difference between experiencing something while capturing every moment of it with our phones and experiencing it without capturing every moment with our phones. I think that taking pictures/videos can be a great way to experience an event. It’s nice to have something to look back on. But just like everything else I think there needs to be a balance. At a Garth Brooks concert I was at a few weeks ago, a lady in front of me recorded the WHOLE THING on her phone! She was basically watching the whole concert through her phone screen. Half the time the image being recorded was blurry because she was zoomed in and she wasn’t able to follow him the whole time because he moved all over. We made the comment that she will wake up in the morning and realize that wasn’t the best decision. Now if she had a tripod or something set up to record it so she could watch the whole thing in person and then be able to watch a quality recording of the video the next day, that would be a different story. I took some videos and a few pictures, but I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time because I would miss out on the experience I wanted in going to see him. I can watch youtube videos of his performances any day, so I wanted to make sure that I took it all in while I was there in person. Did I take some pictures and videos? Of course I did…two pictures before of me and the people I was with, and three short Snapchat videos of a few of my favourite songs. Do I regret not taking more? Not one bit.

Moving to the disagree side I have to admit I completely agree that it almost seems impossible to fully unplug. Even when we are in our cars, going for a walk or run, camping, travelling we are connected in someway. We use our phones to capture images that we will most likely share when we get a chance. Even when we are offline we are thinking about the online world. In reality, our offline and online worlds are not two distinct parts of our lives, they are our whole lives existing as one augmented reality.  It’s pretty clear that our online lives can exist without a lot of our offline lives, but do our offline lives depend on our online lives in the same way? Our offline lives existed long before our online lives, but this isn’t the case for our children who have been born with a digital life right from the day they were born without having any say about it. The idea of unplugging is something that our children will have to learn to manage more than we have had to because technology is still fairly new for most of us (10-15 years). Unplugging may also mean something different to each person. To me, unplugging is stepping away from social media most of all, and putting away our devices. I personally don’t worry about unplugging from TV but maybe that’s because I don’t use it too often, or I feel like when I do use it it’s to watch the news or a movie with my kids which I would consider to be positive uses.

Technology certainly plays a large role in our lives. It allows us to connect with people near and far. We can network, build friendships, meet new people and find communities that we feel welcome in. It allows us to video chat or FaceTime with no added cost. It helps us manage our personal lives including our mental and physical health. I think we can all see value in technology and appreciate social media but we have to be aware of the amount of time we spend on the devices we have. When it starts to take precedence over quality time spent face to face with our family, friends, spouses and kids I think we need to take a step back and think about how we can unplug and reconnect with the people around us.

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc


Good intentions and what is morally just make EdTech equitable.

Equity versus equality.

Equity involves an attempt to level the playing field for all as exemplified in the picture below.

equality doesnt mean equity

Health Equity via CommunityView.ca

The importance of this concept was made more apparent in the presence of “straight pride week” posters and social media posts appearing recently in light of pride week… and people sometimes fail to make the connection that equality is not equality without equity. And despite the use of social media to spread this hate and discrimination, technology still can be used as a force for equity.

straight pride

Straight Pride Posters Removed via Worldnow

 

 

Equity, education, technology and well-intentioned actions.

Technology can be a force for equity in society. It can provide health and learning alternatives for those at risk or at a disadvantage and seek to level the playing field for individuals. These actions are practised with good intentions for helping others. Some emphasize that using these technologies widens the achievement gap between rich and poor students and that may be the case in some instances, exacerbating socio-economic divides. Well-intentioned actions (more on this next week) can lead to further issues and may place importance on skills related to certain forms of technology that may make individuals more equipped for life in another culture rather than helping them to develop their own. As it applies to education, every effort needs to be made to educate our youth to put them in the best position to be successful learners and citizens, and while there are potential repercussions, decisions made in good conscience/faith need to be encouraged while productive feedback is provided. Well-intentioned actions may be flawed, but with the students in mind and the potential for enhancement of their learning, the process of integrating these technologies is worth practising. Technology, apps, robots and devices are developed with the intention to serve a need in society and many of these needs today are to bridge gaps, regardless of the paycheck associated with it (there is a host of issues with that as well, however). Just as there are needs in society, there are needs in the classroom. Literary needs, language needs, even motor skill needs. 

Socio-economic divides, do these technologies actually help?

Technology in the classroom may not actually improve performance in classrooms. And the introduction of these new technologies when made available to all will likely only be used by those with the resources to acquire it. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth creating or practising. By that logic, a new, expensive, potentially life-saving practice for heart disease shouldn’t be allowed or encouraged as it will further push the divide as rich people with heart disease will be able to live longer while those who cannot afford it may not be able to. Morally, all should have access to it, but is our reality consistent with this? No. And there is the potential that this technology can someday be made more accessible for all. But for now, one student, even if there are rich that has a learning disability and there is an app that helps them learn, it’s worth it. I understand the associated issues with what the creation and subsequent use of technologies provide, but what is the potential solution then? Equal/equitable access for all so that these technologies may not be privatised? Complete societal upheaval and restructuring? It’s not feasible. I don’t intend to be pessimistic, mind you, quite the contrary. The creation and use of these technologies for health and learning present an opportunity for learning and well-being… and when these occur, equity can follow and I am optimistic despite potential short-term gap widening, the benefits and morality of equitable tech casts a shadow over it.

 

The moral question I ask is: Is an act done with good intentions and is morally just, but has potential consequences, wrong?

A loaded question. And while bad decisions have been made in the past with good intentions, with the right research and preparation, the moral good that technology can provide in the learning and health for some outweighs the potential gap-widening problems.

Debatable, no doubt. Thoughts?

Logan Petlak


Technology and Health: It’s a balancing act.

This past week our second debate focused on how technology affects our health. Does technology have a negative impact on our health? Are there ways that technology is helping us in our quest to be healthier? How does technology affect our mental and emotional health? There were a lot of questions that were asked and a lot of information that was shared. Both groups did a great job presenting their arguments and I’d like to offer my perspective on the issue. You’ll notice that some of my ideas echo others in our class.

I’ll start with some of the arguments that I believe more strongly about. I completely agree that we all spend too much time behind screens or with a device in our hand. This isn’t a problem that is only affecting our youth. Many adults are now spending more time on their phones/devices than they are sleeping.  If you compare the effects of sleepiness to the effects of a good nights sleep it is easy to see the importance of getting a good night sleep. Youth are also being affected by the lack of sleep caused by using technology, gaming, social media and text messaging.  Sleep deprivation can lead to a significant number of health concerns for children and it can also impact their grades in school. Here is a great video that explains how our screen time impacts the amount of sleep we are getting.

I strongly believe that we should be doing our best to prevent our kids (and ourselves) from using devices or watching tv before bed. I know that it seems way easier said than done especially if you are like me and have excuse after excuse for why you need to have your phone in your room…”What if there’s an emergency and someone needs to get ahold of me??”…probably my silliest excuse because my phone is always on silent in the evening anyways. “How will I know what time it is?” Here’s an idea…buy an alarm clock. “I like to watch Netflix before bed”, I don’t have a solution for this other than to get your Netflix fix at some other point in time. Craig Canapari suggests ways that we can help prevent sleep problems caused by using technology.  There are a lot of great suggestions but I think the important thing is to lead by example and start young. We need to set the expectations when our children are younger so that it creates a foundation for when they are in their teen years. I like to think that I’ll be able to prevent my kids from having their phones in their rooms at night, but I don’t know how that will go over when the time comes. I hope we can have an agreement in place so that they can get a good night sleep.

horizontal-162952_1280Childhood obesity is on the rise and I don’t know if we can blame technology completely, but I do believe that it is definitely contributing to it.  It is pretty obvious to see that sitting in front of a screen requires little physical activity. This limited activity isn’t only contributing to the obesity levels, but a variety of other physical health issues. Sure there are devices, systems, and apps that might encourage users to be physically active but we have to ask if these provide us with the same benefits of not using them? The devices and apps probably do a better job of encouraging us to workout or eat healthier, but the game systems like the Wii Fit don’t do the trick. Come to think of it, I don’t think the Wii is that popular anymore. I think it came in hot and then died out because if someone wants to play a video game, they want to sit smart-watch-889639_1280and play. They don’t want to have to move or work to play the game. I also think that running on the spot or bowling using a remote doesn’t provide you with the same experience. You are missing out on the environment that we experience those activities in. Holding the weight of the ball, or running outside stimulates different muscles and I would argue requires much more work. Apps like Map My Run and My Fitness Pal  are great for monitoring progress, tracking and setting goals as are devices like FitBit or Apple Watch. However we have to wonder if the devices are making us healthier, or is it our choice to use them that is making us healthier? One study found that exercise levels typically increase for the first few months before returning to the former level when the novelty wears off.

medical-781422_1920On the plus side, I do think that technology has definitely helped us when it comes to improving modern medicine. It is incredible to think about the different ways that technology works to help diagnose, monitor and prevent different medical issues. Technology has come a long way and is continuing to make a difference by transforming health care.  Fellow classmate Bob knows first hand how wearable devices can help record and track important information to monitor a health condition. It is important to remember the role that technology has in our health care system and keep that in mind when we question whether or not technology is making us unhealthy or not.

My final thoughts stem from reading Erin’s latest blog. I definitely think that our health is highly dependent on the choices we make. This relates to more than just technology and our health. If we make poor choices when it comes to eating and exercising, chances are we will be unhealthy. When we use fitness devices or apps to track our activity, it’s not the device that is making us healthy, it is our choice to be healthy. The device certainly helps keep us motivated and accountable but we still need to make the choice to get up and go, or eat healthy in order for the device to do it’s work. We cannot simply download an app and expect it to make us healthy. We need to make that choice. We need to help our kids make healthy choices and I think the best way we can do that is to model healthy habits. If our kids see us on our phone or computer all the time, what do you think they will think is healthy? If we put our devices down and encourage our kids to do the same, we are modelling that positive behaviour that should result in healthy habits. Taking our kids to the park and sitting on our phones is not setting a good example. Take a few pictures sure, but we don’t need to constantly be snapping or recording everything that they do. Play with your kids. Eat healthy. Exercise. Limit your own screen time especially in the evening. Set a positive example for your kids and it’s more likely that they will follow in your footsteps. Just like so many other things in life, it’s all about balance and moderation.

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What do you think about technology and our health? How does it help us? Is it making us more healthy or unhealthy? Have you ever used an app or device to help you with your fitness goals? Did it work? I had one, and I was one of those people who didn’t last more than six months with mine? But I realized I didn’t need an expensive device to help me stay active. It was all up to me. I had to make the choice to eat healthier and exercise, the device wasn’t doing it for me.


The Greatest Wealth is Health

When I first considered the question of whether the use of technology is making our youth unhealthy, I had pretty much made up my mind on the issue.  I grew up in Mali, West Africa and as such was in a continuous technology lag zone.  Living in a developing country meant that even land line phone connections were spotty at best, there was no internet until 1998 or so and cell phones were non-existent in rural areas until about 10 years ago.  I grew up climbing trees to pick mangoes, hunting lizards and birds with a slingshot, or riding my bike on the goat paths that stretched for miles around our village.  I loved growing up in Africa and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I have a bit of a different worldview when it comes to technology and that is that simpler is sometimes better.  But wait…isn’t technology supposed to simplify my life thereby making my life easier and stress free?  The issue of whether technology is making us unhealthy is one in which there are many factors to consider.  Not the least of which are the inherent problems with some of the studies and reports that have been released in recent years on both sides of this argument.

On the one hand, I feel like one day I’m going to wake up and realize that North American society has gone the way of the humans in Wall-E.  Studies have conclusively shown that obesity rates in North America are on a steady incline and that this is due in large part to diet and a sedentary lifestyle.  Some students are spending more time in front of screens at home than hours in the school day.  I usually ask my Grade 7 students during our digital citizenship and health unit how many hours they spend in front of screens on average per day.  When I first started teaching, it was usually around 2-3 on a school day.  Now the average is around 6-8 hours.  Aside form the risk of obesity due to lack of exercise, there is also the risk of sleep loss.  For students who are still developing and in need of at least 9-10 hours of sleep a night, the devices and screens in their bedrooms mean that many of them do not get to sleep on a weeknight until around midnight or later.  We then expect these students to arrive at school and begin functioning at full capacity on their school work.  In addition, the physical activity that students are engaged in at school is nowhere near the 1 hour a day minimum necessary.  Not to mention, the social and emotional toll of the barrage of bullying, slandering and trolling that students endure on their online profiles.

On the other hand, is it prudent to simply pull all technology out of the hands of our youth? After all, there exist numerous benefits to the use of technology in the lives of students. Apps like snapchat, instagram, and skype allow students to stay connected and socialize. Fitness and sleep tracking apps like fitbit allow students to get exercise and track their progress.  Not only can technology provide entertainment, it also allows for amazing creativity.  Youth are doing things with technology that at one time used to be reserved for computer science engineers.  There are numerous safety benefits, to tech use as well as  from GPS tracking and mapping systems, to home security.  There is certainly also the question of technology playing a key role in all our students’ futures.  If we simply try to cut out technology, we may be sabotaging the futures of our students.  It is simply a part of life in the 21st century and students need to have these skills in order to succeed in this world.  As described in this NPR Podcast, screens are simply another step in the long line of tools that have affected and changed our lives over the years.  But at what cost?  In a 2014 study described below, students displayed difficulty when asked to identify facial emotions and non-verbal cues after usual amounts of media use.  Those that were removed from devices scored much higher.  This is ironic because the thing that most youth spend their time on using devices is socializing.  Could it be that our youth are losing the ability to have face-to-face interactions and if so, what does this mean for the future?  

 I believe the key with this issue as in many issues of technology is an approach of moderation.  Kids need to experience skinned knees, scrapes and inventing a new version of hide and seek.  They need to observe conflict, use problem solving skills, and learn to cooperate.  They need to recognize when someone is hurt, feel the pang of empathy in their chest and ask what they can do to help.  They need to get a sunburn, get soaked from running through the rain, plant a garden.  Many teachers and parents will immediately identify the difficulty in motivating teens and younger children to unplug and engage in other activities.  This can be daunting but it has to be all about balance.  Recently a school in Stockholm, Sk created an outdoor classroom to promote learning outdoors.  Students and teachers attest to the growth in natural and authentic learning experiences.  Schools can play a significant role in promoting healthy learning and lifestyles.  How can individual teachers and parents play a similar role?

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Here are 10 tips for a balanced approach to tech use so everyone stays healthy.

  1. Discuss tech use openly with students (children).
  2. Model appropriate balance of tech use (give children your full attention).
  3. Get outdoors (exercise together as a class or as a family).
  4. Support your child’s social life online and offline.
  5. Support the child’s interests whether these are online or offline.
  6. Teach meta-cognition and emotional self-awareness.
  7. Prioritize offline connections.
  8. Make quality time together without devices.
  9. Watch for trouble such as online bullying and intervene if necessary.
  10. Set limits on screen time if necessary and follow them as well.

Games, technology and student learning and well-being

Self-proclaimed gamer and technology-user

I frequently play games through a variety of technological mediums. Physical skill, board, console, computer, mobile, you name it. I was raised in the gamer generation and have learned a lot from it to apply to the real world. Conversely I also spend a lot of time aware of how much activity I get per day and the food I consume. Combining these, I am a big believer in the gamification of learning and living. What I learned from play has translated to success in the workplace and health. I think that play engages students greatly and the modern means of that engagement dominantly occur through technology. Games connect us with others and challenge us to complete goals. But games, like sports, have a dark side to them… and it may be that only with proper education and leadership do we see responsible use of technology and games. And with these dark sides, come risks, and through the management of these risks students continue to learn and develop. Some of these risks may impact health, but with the right education, we can learn from it.

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Photo Credit: lolesports via Compfight cc

Concerns of tech on health

If a student or individual posts up on the Xbox or PC for a “gaming sesh (session)”, snacks will follow. Typically this is associated with the negative stigma of ‘unhealthy’ as “chips and pop” may be the choices selected at times. Some studies correlate gaming to obesity, however, to the right, we see two professional gamers who would not reflect “obesity” on the BMI. Even the frequency of snacking can be called into question on the health of students who game. There is a lot of confusion and different types of data on whether or not snacking negatively or positively affects our health. A common belief was that snacking with smaller meals throughout the day may be healthier, but these tests weren’t necessarily reputable. But, as always, it comes back to moderation and understanding balance. And when these discussions occur at home, through social media and technology (shown below) and at school, students can learn to find that balance with gaming, physical activity, and snacking… within reason.

Personal experience of health and gaming.

I would consider myself a strong believer in the lack of validity associated with personal opinion or “a study showed _______ may…” however I will speak to my personal experience about moderation and technology. Maintaining balance is an ongoing process, I’ve had days of too much screen time playing online games like Diablo II, Starcraft and Ragnarok Online and days of so much physical activity that I couldn’t walk the next day or was so concerned with eating properly I would not eat some food at family gatherings because it wasn’t “healthy enough”. Balance is pivotal. This extends even to the numerous ways that technology could be messing with your brain. Whether it be panicking without your phone and this example subsequently being misused as an excuse to call it a technology addiction. If you lost your car, cat, or kids you would panic too, does this correlate to addiction? The underlying problem is not technology, it is educating ourselves and students on this learning and growing process. Technology can be the vehicle in which problems occur, but correlation does not imply causation, and the potential effects cannot be instantly taken as fact, but carefully analyzed.

 

What do you think? Are games and technology making our kids unhealthy? Let me know!

-Logan Petlak


Connecting with my community

Over the past few weeks I have managed to find support for my health goals online.  I found the website Spark People awesome in terms of setting health goals.  There are also plenty of articles and support to guide you on your journey.  I also enjoyed participating in the online community, where you can post within different forums.  I defiantly suggest looking into his online tool for some education and support!!

I also focused on connecting with other healthy eating bloggers.  I explored 2 different website.  My first pick is called Thestonesoup.  I enjoyed that all of the author’s recipes were simple,  as she works hard to post delicious recipes that encourage us to become healthy home cooks. I also enjoyed the organized recipe index.

stonesoup-screenshot-best-healht-blogs-by-healthista.comScreenshot from The Stone Soup

The other healthy recipe blog that I was able to check out was Hungry Healthy Happy.  The tag line is ” a blog that will motivate you to change your lifestyle”.  I like the blog as it is very supportive and motivating.

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Screen shot from hungryhealthyhappy.com

I also follow a few different Facebook gals for motivation: curvy girl on the lose, Bree gets fit.  I enjoy when recipes or little victories come up on my news feed. I also want to mention that I attend a fitness center called Fearless Fitness.  If anyone is looking for a great workout, I suggest checking out one of there classes.  I attempted to attach the schedule, but it was a blur, just check out the link above or look at their Facebook . Comment on my blog if you are interested in attending, as it is invite only.  I tend to do Waist trimmer on Mondays, and Cardio-kickboxing on Thursday, come on and join me, you won’t regret it!