Written By: Robyn Shulman
It goes without saying; we are a virtually connected generation. Baby boomers, Generation X and the Millennial Generation are busy on their I-phones, sending text messages, chatting and emailing a good portion of their day away. However, how much is too much?
This weekend, I went out with my family for lunch. Looking around the room, I noticed a great deal of people sitting next to each other, across from each other, with their heads down, fingers moving, and quiet individual giggles and laughs. Although they found their private virtual worlds funny, I found it disheartening. I especially noticed a young adult daughter and her mother who were sitting across from us. From the minute they sat down, to the minute they finished eating, they did not say a word to each other. Literally, they did not talk through the entire meal, but rather chose to isolate themselves from each other, while ignoring the experience of the food and the visuals of the surrounding atmosphere. They looked up when the food came, ate with their hands on their phones (assure to keep napkins close to continue texting), paid the bill and walked out.
Have we become so socially inept that we don’t have conversations at lunch or dinner?
Also, how does this behavior carry into the classroom? Technology in the classroom is not going away and seems to be isolating and bringing us together at the same time. However, we must have standards, rules of engagement, and as teachers, we must use social media judgment and epitomize right from wrong in this new virtual world.
As parents, we are setting examples with every motion, ease of unannounced neglect, and type of behavior we choose to display. I tend to wonder if our society has become so disconnected in person that we have simply lost the visual and kinesthetic bonds that hold us together. I thought about that young girl from lunch a good portion of the day. Did she have questions for her mom, a story to share, or the need for advice and guidance? Did she choose to put her questions on hold as to not disturb her mom? I also wonder if her mom was concerned about her daughter’s needs during lunch, but chose to text with her friends on the phone instead? Was the chosen behavior mutual?
We are missing out on moments that can never be replaced. I think we all need to put down our phones, look around, feel the sunshine, and breathe in all of nature’s gifts. Look at our kids, appreciate our students, and make real bonds, both online and off. What does this mean? We need to talk with each other, look at each other, and reconnect in ways that matter.
I thought about that young girl for most of the day, and made it a point to listen and talk with my own daughter (yes, it was a bit exhausting, but it was worth it) all day.
As a teacher, how do you handle the use of personal technology in your classroom? Is it an issue?