Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are we changing our children with technology?

Anyone who knows me knows I love technology and I am always looking for ways to use it in my everyday life and in teaching.

I have an app (Anylist) on my phone for my shopping list or I would walk out of the store without the one thing I came for. I take care of my banking (I only write checks to my babysitter and the hospital) and budgeting online. I take all my pictures on a digital camera or with my phone or tablet and do most of my scrapping on sites like Snapfish, Picaboo, Smilebox, and apps like PicCollage of InstaMessage. I can carry my music collection in my pocket on my iPod or connect to my radio in my car with a cord and not worry about changing the CD. TV and movies can be watched anytime or anywhere on tablets or laptops. And since I am no longer in a library everyday most of my reading is borrowed via wireless without stepping foot in a library. I can constantly connect and respond instantly (which I often do before I forget what you asked b/c I am on to my next task)  with old or new friends via Facebook, Google+, FaceTime, email, or text. I even keep virtual post it notes via reminders on my iPhone or iPad so I don't forget to do something. I very rarely write things on paper anymore because it is faster to put a quick note on Evernote so I can access it wherever I have an Internet connection. I even keep my calendar and lesson plans online so I can put in notes and know where I need to be when I need to be there. I have been trying to convince my husband to keep track of his calves and dairy herd online so he doesn't have to scrape manure off his notebook. I can find my news instantly and interact with it via social media and Web 2.0. I am even an author as I write this blog and another about education and follow many more to get ideas and advice. I can spend hours scouring Pinterest for ideas on crafts and recipes. I can sell my creations on Etsy and have a virtual yard sale anytime on eBay. I am sure there is something I haven't thought of or will learn about tomorrow I want to try. Technology is everywhere and if we don't embrace it we may be left behind. 

But I have seen some posts on Facebook and other blogs about how children today are different because of all these changes and it made me think. My two year old is already learning, playing games, and finding music or pictures on our tablets. I feel lucky they will get to have better experiences due to changes in technology, but I have to agree they are changing and missing out on some things because of all this technology. 

The biggest thing is patience. Everything is instant. They will never have to wait all night for the DJ to play their favorite song on the radio only to have him talk over the beginning when they push record so they can play back in their tape player when they want to hear it again. They will never learn to be kind and rewind when they return a video to the store. They no longer have to cruise up and down Main Street all night to find their friends. They will not wait for their sister or even a neighbor to get off the phone so they can place a call. They will never flip through the card catalog to find the title, author, or subject card to send them in the direction of a book they need. They won't wait six weeks for a toy to come in the mail they sent in for via an offer on a cereal box. They won't spend time searching the couch cushions for change to go to the neighborhood Ma and Pop store to get a glass bottle of Pepsi to enjoy on a hot day. Pictures are even instant. No more taking them to the store to develop and waiting a week only to find out you head was cut off or the best one was blurry. Even shaking a Polaroid to see the picture appear takes too long. 

Imagination is also dwindling. Boxes don't become houses, cars, and the sheriff's jail. Two cans don't get strung together or a blinking flashlight code is not made to get messages to their neighbor. They can't leave the house on their bike after breakfast and explore in the woods until the street lights come on and it's time for dinner. They won't sit around a 9" black and white TV in your grandma's kitchen with your cousins and guess the color of the dresses of the ladies in the Miss America pageant. The week will probably not be spent on their grandparents family farm learning to plant gardens or flowers and create things in the wood shop. Even in my own van and on my last field trip all I can see in the early morning light is the blue/green glow of electronics to occupy out times instead of seeing what is going on around us. 

Kids are too busy and forget about being kids. Sitting around the table all together for supper after the farm chores are done is almost a thing of the past. In order to be competitive and win you must play school and club sports. And if you don't win you can be so hard on yourself because of what others must think of you. A friendly neighborhood game of kickball in the empty lot on a dead end street where the only prize is a slap on the back and some skinned knees to brag about does not happen anymore. What happened to learning fundamentals and having fun as you are playing? And to be well rounded you must also find time for drama, speech, musical, volunteer and academic activities as well. I am not saying these activities are not a good thing as I have said before I learned just as much from my extracurricular activities then some of my classes at school, but it did ultimately take away from time for me and with my family. With all of the technology we have it sometimes seems we are too separated by our devices as we spend more time on them then in a conversation. I personally find it sad that my girls will probably never receive a hand written love (or rejection) letter as they grow up. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not ready to become unwired or give up all my technology. As I started this entry with some of those things really make my life better and easier and in some cases technology advances are really saving lives. I just wish that attitudes and behaviors did not change with the technology as well. I do wish there was a way to have a better balance of both. 

It was sort of fitting that I started my day with this video by Miranda Lambert from her new song Automatic. My husband was telling me about it the other day as it sounded just like what I was talking about when I was sad to hear that due to budget cuts the librarian at my daughters school will only be available one day a week, because (in not these exact words) technology will be replacing the need for a librarian in the minds of the decisions makers in the district. 

The 'tail' end - what do you wish was still around from your past and how did it teach you to be a better person? 

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