Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Metaphorically Speaking: Head in the Clouds--Nature Versus "Network"

I'm searching for the right metaphor....

Am I a magnet that is constantly pulled toward (or pushing against) the dichotomy of nature, technology (or innovation), and unplugging...  or a pendulum swinging between them?

Am I hosting the perpetual internal tug-of-war between them all?

Or is my head stuck in a cloud--a simultaneous dual cloud that has meaning both in nature and the network?

[As an aside...In doing my metaphorical search, I ran across both the above image and the Star-Wars-themed podcast Metaphors Be With You, where episode #5 is indeed Nature Vs Technology (the latter of which makes the image even more humorous). With technology, you can find anything... except perhaps my perfect metaphor!]

Back to the question at hand and where my boomerang keeps bringing me back to: digital distraction. Or maybe the better term is "digital well-being." It's feeling a little like when you are looking to buy a new car--you see 100 car commercials. They're everywhere. The same is happening to me. All roads lead to this wrestle-fest between inside, outside, and upside down (technologically speaking). To unplug or not to unplug.... or rather WHEN to unplug.

However, why am I surprised? Especially when a majority of the items I follow online are heavy in all of the categories above. It actually is JUST like my car commercial scenario above!

This school year I have found myself on a quest... as a teacher, a parent, and as a consumer of tech information. My pursuit in finding the balance between being tech-i-fied & unplugged has led me to numerous books, articles, events (including a Social Media evening hosted by a local school, presented by their School Resource Officer), and more. Immersion--including the good, the bad, and the ugly!

In doing all of this research, here's the short list of what I've found.
(Perhaps a longer one will follow in a future post.)

1.  My numbers on my iPhone & iPad Screentime iOS feature are improving. (Awareness does wonders)! Android has their own version called "Digital Wellbeing."

2.  Nature is the key to solving the problems (which has been the topic of conversation a lot lately here at GTG).

3.  Tech is tied to our relationships, our self-esteem, our mental health, our overall health, and more. 

4.  There certainly is a difference between consumption versus creation when it comes to tech. The latter is certainly the better. A mindful approach is best--constantly ask yourself "How am I using my tech?" And, if you are using it in a brain-numbing, junk-food sort of way, maybe it's time to step away!

5.  "Joint media engagement" and being a "media mediator (or mentor)" were two concepts I really liked in relation to family. It brings you all together as a team, versus the "monitor & surveillance" concept that feels more "us versus them" (meaning parents versus kids) within the family.

6.  There are some really scary social media apps out there--some I hadn't even heard of, and the list is always changing. Have open conversations with your kids & with their phones about what apps they are using and what they get out of these apps. Analyze together if they fit with your family values and talk about the pros and cons.

7.  I like the concept of "Enjoy screens; not too much; mostly together" from Anya Kamenetz's The Art of Screen Time.

8.  We all need to be reading this research and adopting more time outside, more time unplugging! 

To follow my path (aka, to read my bibliography), check out my list below. May they offer you some insight and self-awareness as well.



Final Thoughts:

I will say, despite all my findings, I'm still conflicted. Implementation is hard. In part, because it goes back to my "love-hate" relationship with technology. Also because it's really led me to take a deep look at how much tech has infiltrated both my own and my family's life. Additionally, I know all my people aren't at the same place of buy-in (largely because they haven't read the same tall stack of books I have.)  I think my hardest part is finding the right approach. I certainly don't want to cut off the kids cold turkey like a dictator and cause the rebellion. Yet, it is difficult to find the right tone for the conversation without it coming across like a lecture. (We all know how much kids love those!) For instance, I like Andy Crouch's idea in The Tech-Wise Family of unplugging one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year.... but again, putting it into practice without it feeling like a punishment is a slippery slope. 

And of course, I suppose I would need to follow my own directives. 😊 

Our goal as parents is to ready our kids for the real world. We need to help them learn to be self-sufficient and to self-manage these devices. But no one said it was going to be easy, that's for sure! Perhaps, as I continue to wrestle with this, Sherry Turkle's books might next on my list to help continue my navigation! (Sherry has been referenced in almost every one of the books above!)
Speaking of conversation...I'm sure this is a conversation I will continue!

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