I am intrigued by the photos and posts about disconnecting with technology on our class site this week. These articles take me back to reading Nathan Jurgenson’s article, IRL Fetish, and digital dualism. I reflected back on my interactions with others and how I have seen others interact with one another while out for suppers. In our family, we have a “device free” supper, or we did until my oldest son moved away to college, now we try to maintain a family meal by connecting via FaceTime while eating…. Which brings me back to the title of this post, Is there a right and a wrong way to enjoy a moment? Am I going back on our family rule and now allowing us to connect during mealtimes? I am a little bit torn on this as on one hand I am trying to maintain a family meal, and am very thankful for the advancements in technology to allow for this to happen, but on the other hand, am I breaking my “no cell phones at the table” rule? Really, I had not given it too much thought until this week, now I find that I am struggling with this.
A few weeks ago, I was enjoying a lunch with a friend. During lunch, neither of us pulled out our smart phones out of our bags and used them, we were enjoying the conversation that we were having with each other, living in the moment you could say.. Our phones were not on the table, not in sight. Next to us, however, was a couple that did not speak to each other except to ask what the other was ordering, they were not connecting with one another during that moment, rather they completely enthralled in their smartphones. Once their lunch was brought to their table, I was enamored at their capability to eat one handed while still remaining connected to their devices. Have we lost empathy? Were the couple next to us less connected to each other simply because they were not having a physical conversation? Sherry Turkle spoke of this in the video below:
Who am I to judge? The couple could have been having a conversation with someone via text that meant just as much to them as our son does to us. Instead of FaceTime, they could have been having a silent conversation. Or, they could have been crushing candies for all that I know!
I reflected on this as I read Ashely’s post. How by putting our phones down we can capture the moment with our five senses. But, sometimes a picture that I have taken on my phone recalls those feelings and senses of that experience. For example, I remember exactly what I was feeling, how all my senses were engaged at the very moment this picture was taken (especially my sense of smell).
Without having the use of my phone (simply because I do not carry a camera around anymore), this moment – although remembered through experiencing the moment, will always remain and allow me to experience my feelings again whenever I look at it.
In her article, It’s Time to Put the Phone Down, Vanessa Lynch states that we need to start putting our phones away and begin actively participating in life. But do our phones really hinder the active participation, or can they enhance it? In class, I have a rule for my students. I call it “rest and recharge”.
Students walk into my room and must put their phones on the lab benches to “rest and recharge”, I do this for a few reasons. The first being that my students drive, and I teach in a rural area. I want to make sure that my students phones are fully charged before they leave the school just in case there is a problem on the way home, and they need to get a hold of their parents. But, I also want the students to take a rest from social media while in the room and open themselves up to the experiences of what I am teaching in class. I want them to live in the moment and be an active participant in class. But this is not always true. I AM that teacher whom would rather my students use their own devices in my classroom than get the laptops for them just to Google something. We are not a school in which Bring Your Own Device is in play, yet. But it is so much quicker to have the students use their devices to search up a concept than to go down the hall, book out the laptops, bring them back to the class, log on (which takes a long time), search, etc… Just for something that can be quickly done within 30 seconds on their smartphones. At this point in time, I am asking them to engage in social media – sometimes even asking them to look up a post on Facebook. I believe that there is a time and a place for cell phones in the classroom, and that students must be taught how to use this tool within the school in an appropriate manner. By allowing cell phones, I do not believe that I am taking away, rather enhancing, the point of my lessons and that they are aligned with the curriculum. Sometimes, the simple act of looking a concept up is a brain break for some students. I feel that this is another way to enjoy and build upon a learning moment within the classroom, making an exception to the school rule that cell phones are not to be used within class time, giving my students permission to learn new things using social media and the use of digital citizenship.