By Sarah Martin Hood
A few weeks ago I had a day off from work and decided to spend it laying low. Apparently. I spent the day running a few errands and getting some things done at home. And by mid-afternoon I was getting Facebook messages and emails wondering where I had been all day! Without realizing it, I had spent the entire day – without posting anything to Twitter or Facebook. And I survived!
But it made me pause. Do I really frequent my social networking world that often? Often enough that a whole day “off” makes people wonder what’s going on?
You may have seen this article about a Mom who “unplugged” her kids for six whole months – no cell phones, no TV, no computer or internet, no iPods. The article says she “decided to unplug the family because the kids — ages 14, 15 and 18 when she started The Experiment — didn’t just “use media,” as she put it. They “inhabited” media. “They don’t remember a time before e-mail, or instant messaging, or Google,” she wrote.
I stare at one screen or another for an astonishing portion of my day. I have two cell phones, at least four email addresses — all of which I can check from my phone any time of the day or night, and TVs outnumber PEOPLE in our house. I sometimes catch myself sitting at my desk at the office simultaneously reading the email on the monitor in front of me and checking a different email account on my cell phone — and I could be taking a call on the desk phone at the same time!
I am PLUGGED IN.
And most of the time I’m ok with it. I know how to put down the phone when I get home from work to have dinner with my family then read some books or play some Legos. I (sometimes!) know how to tune out the dinging of my phone while grabbing lunch with a friend.
But I do sometimes worry about the pace we move. I worry about how “multitasking” and the sense of being constantly “connected” is affecting us. For gosh sakes, at my house we’ve absolutely spoiled our 21st century child to the point of absolute intolerance of TV commercials. As soon as there is a break in the action, he points at the screen and demands “more!” as we fast forward from one stretch of programming to the next.
In the article, the Unplugged Mom claims her kids’ grades improved and their interests in music and reading deepened. They were able to refocus — or just plain FOCUS — on things that didn’t require batteries or Wi-Fi.
Sure, completely unplugging your family for six long months is extreme, but there’s something to be said for having some discipline when it comes to our gadgets and devices, right? There’s something to be said for teaching our kids how to have fun without logging on. And it’s certainly worth showing kids that the Internet is only ONE way to learn — the best way is to put down the phone, go outside and experience it for yourself.
Sarah would love to hear from you with questions or feedback regarding gadgets, technology, or blogging. You can also stop by Sarah’s personal blog, Musings of Mother Hood to say hello. To read previous installments of Techno Mama, click here!