Monday, April 21, 2014

A tech balance

Today, I read an NPR article about "When Parents are Too Distracted by Devices." The premise of which, is that children vie for the attention of their parents away from technology. Children have to fight to gain their parent's attention away from the latest Facebook post, email, Tweet, or whatever is on their Smart Phone.  As I read it, I was reminded of a co-worker of mine who initiated Tech-free Tuesdays at her house. This particular teacher is one of the best on staying ahead of the curve, seeking out learning opportunities, and pushing her students to new levels all while effectively integrating technology. Yet, she deliberately has days in her family to stop technology.

As I thought about it, I questioned, "what does technology mean?" Is it the technology that distracts parents or that my co-worker bans or is it the behavior associated with the technology? Is it that we just have not learned a balance?

I'm also reminded of a current project our district is working on to innovate classrooms. Sadly, though, as teachers come to me, they come out of a desire to get more technology in their classrooms - to replace the laptops with the newest device. So, I ask again - what do they consider technology?

When I look at the news or read articles, there is inevitably a technology section that features the latest trends and devices. This only encourages the mindset that technology is about the latest trend or some type of fashion that goes out of style. This encourages the parents mentioned in the NPR article to become obsessed, to become confined to their device.

If we look back to other great "technologies" throughout the past century, have any yielded the same outcome as the most recent devices (assuming technology means devices)? I'd argue to say "no" but for different reasons. When the car was invented and first made its way into American homes, it did not overtake households. It certainly changed households, but it did not overtake them - because it was still a luxury. There is a system of checks and balances in place. It was not accessible to all.

However, despite costs and usage plans, the Smart Phone seems to make its way into most American homes. And, there is no limit to where you can take them. You couldn't squeeze a car into a classroom, but you can squeeze a Smart Phone. Is it that the technology has changed so much to now bypass previous limitations?

How do we achieve that balance? How do we move past viewing technology as devices, but as a behavior?

It is the behavior of the parents in the article and it is the behavior of her children that my co-worker wants to change or limit - not necessarily the device. So, what links these behaviors with the new and emerging media? Is it accessibility or a lack of limitations?

Food for thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment