Always on

We are all guilty of it.  Head down buried in a phone while another life moment passes us by or distracted by the buzz of our phone in our pockets or on a table during a conversation.  This post is not about judgment because that mirror looks straight back at me as well.  It is more about observation.  Every Sunday morning I take my daughter to swimming and sit on the side and watch like many parents out there.  After having a moment a few weeks back, where I caught myself bringing a book and iPad to a half an hour swim lesson, I made the call to change the habit.  I try not to check my phone but to sit back on the side of the pool and watch as daughter gives her all trying to learn to swim.  While she is not swimming, I people watch.  This week, I noticed that there were only two groups of parents, parents in the water and parents engrossed in their phones.  In fact, the kids who were sitting on the side of the pool were also engrossed in a digital device.  As I stated before, this isn’t judgment but a series of human observations.  I am drawn to the reason why.

Is it boredom?  Any parent who says that there aren’t boring elements of parenting is straight up lying or is really well medicated.  With that being said, the practice of boredom can spur our greatest thinking.

Is it pressure with work?  Does work own you?  I wrestle with this one regularly.  Is it their expectation or are we setting the expectations on this one?

Is it finally getting a moment to yourself?  Being a parent is an “always on” job so we take any moment we get but are we consciously taking the right moments.

Behind every instance, there is a story.  We are the “always on” generation.  Social media, globalization, the information age, the digital age, keeping up with the Jones’s contributes and ensures that.  The growth in mindfulness globally screams of a society struggling to be “in the moment”.  We struggle with managing distractions, with giving our undivided attention and it is a challenge we all face.  So if we frame it as a Design Challenge ala Human Centred Design, then…

How Might We educate people to have digital downtime? 

How Might We establish a work to home transition routine that enables us to close the door on work and be present at home? 

These are design challenges that everyone needs to throw their thinking hats at, but as #enoobs we play a special role.  We need to work with our communities to facilitate this conversation.  We need to help young people to set up for success, to build good digital and social habits.  Parents play the most important role and need to be a part of this three-way conversation.  Techniques such as Kanban, Pomodoro and Scrum are being used in classrooms to assist students to focus their thinking and energy on one task at a time.  Apps such as Moment and Quality time have been developed to prompt us to be aware of our digital usage and be in the moment. What other solutions can be develop to assist?

This post is a conversation starter.  Please disagree, agree but please contribute.


Image courtesy of Sean DuBois


2 thoughts on “Always on

  1. To me there are deep personal issues to me and I struggle with some of this myself in bringing up my own children. Yet, I am continually drawn to issues of Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacies as to approaching these concerns in our school based education of young people. I am concerned at how we approach the vast array of issues around digital technology in our schools and the related online home use that crosses over into school. There is so much to do in this area and quite frankly, many schools are simply burying their heads in the sand in terms of being proactive with kids and their parents alike. A rethink is needed with much of this.

    • I so agree Nick. Technology use for my kids is minimal at the moment which is largely in part due to their own choice. The establishment of values is key. We won’t let our kids bring technology to restaurants because we want them to learn the art of conversation. We want to develop open dialogue with our kids and have them be interested in the lives of others. I don’t always lead from the front here but like yourself I am constantly working on it. I now put my phone away when I get home and don’t check it until they are in bed. Breaking digital habits is hard to do but something we need to do. As a school, we need to set the standard for this and unfortunately we are not always very good at leading from the front on this one. How many meetings are distracted by staff being on their laptops or responding to the buzzing of their device! Through the process of disconnecting, we can establish better practices of choice. Choosing when to connect, when to be offline and choosing time to be free, bored and have headspace. There is so much work to do in this space and the call for action needs to happen now.

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