BYOD, Digital Addiction, and Digital Detox

BYOD, Digital Addiction, and Digital Detox

The light from the alarm clock brightens the dark room.  The BEEP, BEEP, BEEP echoes in the silence, but wait… it’s NOT an alarm clock it’s an iPod!  Alarm clocks are a vintage “old school” thing of the past, at our house, at least.  If it’s not an iPod or iPad, it’s a smartphone going off binging or dinging or vibrating and flashing!

I purchased iPods for my 2 youngest last year for their birthdays so that they would leave my iPhone alone!  I also saw an educational value to them to reinforce sight words and math facts. I won’t lie.  I also have used them as digital babysitters a limited number of times when I have pressing issues to address and need them quietly occupied, in my presence of course.

Nearly every person I know has a smartphone, iPad, iPod, tablet or digital device.  People wake up with them in their hands, listen to Pandora in the morning getting ready for work, commuting to work, hopefully not while driving, but there are a few of those kind of people!  Of course, NO one uses them while at work!  Then there is lunchtime! People use them to jump on and check email, Facebook notifications, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.  Then there are always the ever intrusive text messages throughout the day that always get you with the bing bing, kind of like Pavlov’s reflex effect, getting you to pick up the phone to check who sent you the text message.

Well actually using them at work is a changing concept!  This acronym popping up BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), has many employers allowing employees to bring their own laptops, phones, and tablets to be used at work.  There are pros and cons to this emerging trend, but business is not the only place seeing it happening.  Schools are also.  Many schools have expectations for students to show their learning through the use of technology.   Power Point presentations, video book reports, and podcasts are only a few ideas of how schools ask students to showcase what they are learning.  In education, we are building digital learning environments in schools, districts are reversing policies limiting students’ personal digital devices like cellphones, laptops, and tablets with the new trend of bring-your-own-device, or BYOD to school for learning, but this new trend also raises questions about equity for all students, in addition to digital security.  Could schools benefit from moving in this direction or is it just creating a distraction for students?

Are we as a society becoming digitally addicted to technology? I know that the NOW generation kids are digital natives.  They don’t know life without it.  I see moms at the mall handing their toddlers, in the stroller, their smartphones to keep them entertained while they shop.   The scary things is… They know how to use them!  Will there be charging stations next to the diaper changing stations coming soon to a mall near you?

In preschool, we have students mastering web surfing, and by kindergarten, they are digital ninjas showing their teachers what to do!  School aged children are having BYOT play dates!  Bring Your Own Technology!  They don’t leave home without their DS, iPod, iPad, or cell phone! I hear kids saying, “Hey, when you come over on Wednesday, be sure to bring your DS and your Lego Ninjago game! Really?? What happened to Tag, bike riding, Twister, wiffle ball, going to the park? Are we as parents just letting this happen?

It’s not just the kids though!  Adults, the digital immigrants, are addicted as well! The apps, the games, social media like Facebook and Twitter all are alluring and pull us into the digital abyss.  Do you suffer from Facebook Fatigue or Twitter Twitch?  Are you Linked OUT? Do we need a “digital detox”?  Should someone start a 12-Step Program for DA (Digital Addiction)?  Can we be saved or are we doomed?

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