Are We Digital Dummies

Over the past few months I have realized that I have very little use for television in my life. Instead of sitting down in front of a tv and watching a television show at a specific time once a week, I find myself too busy and most often just watch the shows at a more convenient time online. One evening last week was an exception to this habit… I was browsing through channels for some background noise while I was doing homework when I saw a commercial on CBC for a Doc Zone episode titled “Are We Digital Dummies?” The description of the episode intrigued me and I made sure to set an alarm on my phone so that I would remember to tune in at the specified time.

There were a number of points in the film that interested me, and I even began to take notes… this is the first time in my life that I took notes on something that was not a school assignment. After a whole lot of information packed into a 45-minute video, I decided I should blog about this.

The video discusses how addicted society is to technology, especially handheld devices such as blackberrys and iphones. President Obama won the battle to keep his personal blackberry after wining the election, a teenage girl fell into  a manhole while she was texting and walking, and numerous stories about accidents and deaths related to motor vehicle drivers, airplane pilots, and train conductors who were using their phones or laptops at the time of the accidents.

I also enjoyed the part of the video where it is discussed that technology such as online gaming and blackberry phones are an addiction. People spend hours on these items, and when they are not using it they are craving it and feel the need to hide it when they are using these devices… this fits the criteria of an addiction. I enjoyed this part of the video because I have just recently made the jump from a basic cell phone to a blackberry and I can definitely relate and understand the “addiction” of it, but I am also aware of this and make sure to not let it become an addiction in my life.

My favorite part of the video is when education was involved. There were a number of stats such as: students are experiencing music attention deficit disorder (technology has shortened their attention spans), teachers are having difficulties keeping students off their phones, 50% of high school students spend less than 1 hour a week reading and studying for class yet they spend 9 hours social networking, technology use may be rewiring our brains, and that wired kids problems usually begin at home where families are more connected to technology then to each other.

As a pre-service teacher this brings out some questions that I have been thinking of. One of the professors in the video allowed her class a 5 minute text break during class, she found that students were less likely to text during class-time if they were given a break to text instead. I have began to question if this is something I should allow in my classroom? Most high schools have a “no cell phone in class” rule so I think that it would be counter-productive to allow a text break but what about the schools that do not have this rule? How do we keep our students engaged when we are competing with all of this technology around them? Is it possible to change our education system to work with this technology instead of against it? Or are we in fact “digital dummies” and need to step back from technology?

I highly recommend this video, it is a bit long but very worth it!


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4 responses to “Are We Digital Dummies

  1. Great questions, Amy. In my gr. 7/8 class, my students don’t text. Why? Because they are immersed in technology. They usually have a netbook on their desks, so they’re engaged and working. While our school also has a “no cell phone” policy, students, as expected, still bring theirs to school. Sometimes this is to our advantage. If a project partner is away, I’ll ask them to text them if needed. I’ll often send tweets out in my class on my iphone as they’re doing something really creative that I think deserves sharing. Modelling the proper use of a phone in class helps gain their respect. As a result, they don’t text when you ask them not to.
    I think that if students are engaged in their learning, they’ll be too busy to text.

  2. Thanks for this post and the Tweet about it. I had wanted to see this episode but forgot about it due to being preoccupied with my technology.

    I think we are going to be in for some interesting times ahead as our thinking becomes more and more shallow and fragmented. I believe we are in the process of creating a generation of haves and have nots simply based on their ability to think and be productive without the a digital crutch.

  3. I am so glad that it hasn’t got to the point where I would even consider giving my students a five minute text break.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone, they were very insightful!

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