Does Everybody Have a Plug? Addicted to Technology

Does Everybody Have a Plug? Addicted to Technology

At the start of the summer, some friends and I took our kids to Lincoln Park Zoo for the day. We went to my friend’s condo to rest and regroup before heading out for pizza.

Within minutes of entering her home, and without much discussion- nearly everyone in the group sought out an electrical outlet for some sort of electronic device- phone, Itouch…whatever.

In a matter of minutes, everyone was plugged in except the three year old.

The teens and tweens were texting or playing games. The parents were recharging phones and checking emails. Even the nine and seven year olds were asking to use their parents’ phones to play games, prompting the hostess to say "does everybody have a plug?" It was funny but strange at the same time to hear.

I felt like we were the people in the HP folio commercial…sitting anywhere, even on the floor, tethered to an electrical plug and our electronic devices.

Even Silicon Valley Suggests Turning Off & Tuning Out from Tech

When I stumbled across the NY Times article today, “Silicon Valley Says Step Away from the Device” I felt vindicated and armed with new arguments to combat my children’s protests when the tech timer goes off at home! When Facebook, Twitter, and Cisco execs tell their people to take a break, log off, and put down your computers and smartphones- you know there is something up!

I was startled to read “Google has started a “mindfulness” movement at the company to teach employees self-awareness and to improve their ability to focus. Richard Fernandez, an executive coach at Google and one of the leaders of the mindfulness movement, said the risks of being overly engaged with devices were immense.”

I loved this quote about people finding time to disconnect, “we can have more intimate and authentic relationships with ourselves and those we love in our communities.”

I didn’t need the article to convince me that technology is addictive….I just needed to look around my own home this summer. Despite my efforts (ok maybe not my very best efforts…they could be stepped up a bit), it seems the kids are spending a lot of time on their electronic devices and computers.

Maybe it is their age (9-12) …maybe it is the excessive heat…but whatever it is, it feels like a bit too much.

As I write this, I hear that thump-thump beat of Animal Jam coming from the downstairs computer where my daughter is playing. I will have to get off my laptop and set a timer to limit her. Back to what I was saying…

I have been observing and talking with people and many of us are noticing the same thing. Kids are
• spending inordinate amounts of time on computers
• spending less time on outdoor or active/imaginative play
• not sure what to do with themselves when disconnected

No doubt kids have much busier scheduled activities these days than in the past, but sometimes I hear myself teaching/listing/suggesting what to do with “free” time.

As adults, we are equally guilty- myself included. Out with friends one night, we were all fiddling with phones a good fifteen to twenty minutes before we made a conscious effort to put them away!

Like other parents, I am torn between the benefits of technology and placing limits on its use. They are growing up in a radically different environment with constant and rapid access to information. Changes are necessary in the way we teach this generation. Increased use of technology in the schools and classrooms is necessary as well.

I am just searching for a way to balance its use and impart a sense of “mindfulness” in them too. Time to unplug!

What limits do you place on your children’s technology and computer use? Are you addicted to your phone or computer? How do you balance "tech time" with family time? Please comment, Tweet, share, or contact me at lisa.schoolzone@gmail.com

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  • This is definitely becoming a serious issue. Research has shown video games activate & stimulate children's brains in ways much more intense than the natural environment. All of this "virtual" interaction is breeding a generation of kids who will, no doubt, have difficulties interacting in the real world. Even though computers and technology are an integral part of our work, (as you well know) we institute the "30 minute rule" in our house. The microwave timer turns on and when it beeps 30 minutes later, video games/computers/iPhones turn off. I've had to physically wrestle the technology away from my little man's hands at times (which in itself is an obvious sign that these games are addictive), but it's the right thing to do for us as a family in the long run.

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