Again I find myself on the fence for the debate of whether technology is making our kids unhealthy. While I want to pick a side and take a strong stance, I find that the arguments are strong on both sides of this debate.
The agree team discussed the physical and mental health issues that technology can cause, such as neck and eye strain, tendonitis, decreased sperm count, the spread of germs, anxiety, loneliness, and lack of sleep. Perhaps one of the most interesting issues that technology can cause is psychological addiction. The use of technology, such as social media, causes the brain to change its connections so that the stimulus (the technology) is craved. This is similar to the effect that drugs have on the brain. This team also discussed how the plethora of additive technological devices is increasing screen time among children and a sedentary lifestyle, which is leading to higher levels of obesity.
When it came time for the disagree side of the argument to present the case, they countered the obesity argument with evidence that technology can be used as a way of motivating healthy living and exercise. They also argued that technology improves emotional health by enabling people to stay connected with others and gain support. Another strong point for this team was the role that technology plays in enabling activism. Online initiatives can raise awareness and foster positive, healthy changes. Examples of such initiatives are the positive instagram messages that a high school student posted about his classmates in an attempt to increase the amount of kindness found at his school and the Buddy Project movement that gives teens someone to talk to about suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.
The class discussion that followed the opening arguments included how technology has created a new form of bullying called cyberbullying, which is increasing the severity of bullying, as well as, a new non-medical disorder called nature deficit disorder. These were both strong points in support of the agree team. However, the agree team pulled ahead near the end of the debate with a final point about how privilege affects the access that people have to technology that can improve health, such as the fit bit.
In addition to the arguments presented during the debate, I identified a lot with Nicole’s blog in which she spoke about how she strives to find a healthy balance between technology and enjoying family and the outdoors. My spouse and I have also chosen to try and limit our time spent on technology because we know how addictive it can be for us, especially when it’s dark and -60C outside and we are looking for any excuse to hermit ourselves away from the long arctic winter. I found an interesting article about how to stay mentally healthy during the winter and not so surprisingly, it did not involve the use of technology! As an aside, this article had me wondering whether there is an increase in seasonal affective disorder year round among frequent technology users. Has anyone come across anything about this?
Getting back to the debate at hand, watching the video Andres posted about teens’ reactions to 90s internet reminded me how much has changed in terms of how common place technology has become. I remember how much I used to avoid using the computer when we first got it because it seemed so foreign to me, but now I don’t think twice about using one. What we worry about now in terms of how technology is being used probably won’t enter peoples’ minds 20 years from now. All we can hope for and work towards within our families, our classrooms, and our education departments is a balance between screen time, face time, and nature time because technology is here to stay.
I will leave you with a glimpse into the future of classroom technology through the eyes of one teacher who describes how she imagines the future classroom to be.