Can you hear me now? Finding balance in this techno world of the future

Balance is the key to life. Albert Einstein said that” Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” What’s the next “big thing”? I love learning from and playing with technology. I love learning about new tools,  I love watching my students and my own children learn new skills or play with technology. As we embark on this new frontier of learning that has been knocking on the school’s door since the dawn of the Internet, how will we teach the next generation of humans to find balance between technology and their everyday life?

I am intrigued by this topic as I spend a beautiful day typing from my sunroom. Now, don’t go all Zen on me. Yes, we all need to find balance and we all need that friendly reminder, but my concern is teaching these little techno- born people how to become productive techno-balanced adults.

I see my own children excited about using technology to learn or play. I see my students easily navigate the Internet for the answers to questions they have.  I know my tendency with the iPhone is to feel like I have the world in my hand from my bank balance and email to search engines and GPS systems. Do you see how technology is changing you? Do you see, ever wonder, how they view technology?

How are we balancing it in school? Anyone can learn how to use a computer, but who teaches them when to put it down and go out and play or TALK to a friend? I may be treading on parenting issues here, but as a teacher and parent I am concerned with how this Net Generation views technology and how the few its use in their education and ultimately their lives.

Check out the replies in the CNN Student News blog, A School Goes Old School.

Betty Bayer makes many valid points, like her phrase “Keeping up and keeping sane” in

Balance in the Unbalance World.

The blog Pruning the iBrain leaves you with some thought-provoking ideas, images, and videos worth pondering.

Read about balancing technology and human touch in Technology in Education: Finding the Balance.

That said check out the all-too-possible future of communicating in Walle:

We need to teach them balance as much as we teach the technology.


5 thoughts on “Can you hear me now? Finding balance in this techno world of the future

  1. I think part of the answer lies in setting limitations. I’ve seen children allowed to play video games for hours on end and others forced outside for an entire day, there has to be a happy medium. Parents need to set reasonable boundaries and encourage children to develop many hobbies some including the use of technology and some including the great outdoors or other pursuits of happiness.

    Parents need to be good role models. Instead of telling children to go outside and play, parents need to go outside and teach them how to draw a hopscotch grid or shoot a game of “school” with the basketball. The more options kids have, the more likely they are to keep themselves occupied.

    Parents need to sit down and see what their kids are doing on the computer, they need to limit the amount of time children are allowed to play video games or watch tv from the get-go, then there can be a balance. Too late, I see parents try to enforce rules after problems arise, the solution is to be pro-active, we need to think things through for our children- that is part of our job as parents and educators.

  2. I love balance. I thrive on the balance of taking my kids bike riding and swimming, while I also love the way they fight over math games and who gets me to read them a book. I agree, we must teach a healthy balance. Even more, as we introduce this new technology, along with it comes the human need to overindulge and get as much of it as possible. I see this with students. I taught a lesson a couple of weeks ago that included a chat platform. Students were so excited about the platform, they inundated it with mindless messages, disabling our only means of posting relevant and essential discussion information. I was quite disappointed, but I knew it would have its quirks.

    Even more, how many times have we seen the teenager who is so involved with facebook, they feel these people are their true friends? They check their wall, read the news feed, and post their status at least 25 times or more a day. There should be a balance in which they also make time for 25 or more minutes of face-to-face time with a friend or colleague.

    I see technology changing my life in a number of ways. My relationships have changed in my social circles. I don’t have to make an effort to keep in touch with friends, as they can go online and see what I am doing. Professionally, I have colleagues and professors who I have never seen, but can access in minutes. Personally, I have seen the infiltration of social networking into my relationship and how it has changed the way I deal with the issues which arise. Having said all that, I can’t say I like it. More than once we have said, let’s just get a phone attached to the wall and get rid of everything else. But, really, can we?

    How responsible would it be with two young children in our home to get rid of our cell phones? Or how irresponsible would it be to get rid of our computer? Instead of eradicating the home of technology, why not get on board with teaching ourselves and loved ones how to navigate our way through the integration of social interaction and technology?

    Because of the influx of technology in the schools, my daughter’s school has developed a network of social skills programs. She takes time out once per week to eat with her guidance counselor and a group of girls who, be it a product of their generation or their lack of quality social time, are unable to relate to each other socially. Although there are students in the group who have individual education plans and other health impairments, the group for the most part is a group of girls who model their social interactions after what they see on television.

    And by no means am I leaving out the parental fault in all of this. My daughter sees me stressing out about online grades, graduate classes online, and she also sees me incessantly checking email, texts, facebook, and blogs. My news outlet is online and I watch tv online sometimes as well. Our children are modeling their social behavior after us, and we are ONLINE.’

    As far as my own children are involved, I limit the amount of time spent online, and I also make it a point to provide them with social opportunities in which they are productive, engaged, respectful, and learn to be good friends. It is my responsibility as a parent.

  3. I have seen first hand how technology has changed how kids are active. When I was growing up, if someone drove around the neighborhood, they had to be careful because a ball or kid would invariably end up in the road. We were always outside. Now, kids aren’t encouraged to go outside for various reasons but ultimately, parents are fine with their kids staying indoors and interacting with technology. It could be the computer, video game, phone, or even television; the desire to be outside is less than in the past. I see in my class that students who don’t own a lot of technology tend to be healthier because they are more physically active. Has technology made our lives too sedentary?

    Brad J

  4. Ha ha, Jen! Awesome topic, and I love the links and Wall-E embed! Doesn’t blogging feel like being a reporter? Gather the resources, weave a story, convey a message…your topic touches on an aspect of our culture that strikes a cord in many adults.

    It is a balancing act – we “tech geeks” (if I may presume to call us all that?) understand all too well how much time can go by when focusing on a single technology task! I have to make myself break away from the computer so I have a life outside of work. Honestly, I could spend entire evenings looking for resources and building lessons, creating screen cast tutorials, checking student blogs, etc. I MAKE myself go to the Y, take the dog for a walk, dig in my garden, and just plain visit with my children.

    Technology is a tool. Just like a hammer, a pen, a soup bowl, or a wash cloth. Select the tool that suits the purpose – hopefully, the balancing act becomes second nature if we keep that perspective?

    Great topic to address!


  5. I think that we do need to embrace technology and use it as a vehicle to teach. Students today have some form of technology in their hands all day, every day. We should try to capitalize on that and use it to teach them about the subject matter. I must admit that I try to limit my own use of all these advanced technologies to just when I am at school. I try to limit my daughter in using them as well by setting time limits for her. She is only 7, but she can grab an iPad, iPod, or work on a laptop and figure out how to do something quickly because she has used those devices before. That exploratory learning is great. I think we can use technology as a tool to enhance learning. I don’t think that the technology should be the driving force in education, but I think it can create a pretty cool atmosphere for learning. Especially with students today; they are so used to using the technology that they welcome it. I do feel that kids need to get off the couch and put down the phones, devices, and video games and go outside and do something. Great conversation starter!!!

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