I Love My Phone

So as much as I try to deny it, and for as much as I try to justify it, there’s just no getting around it anymore…I’m addicted to my iPhone. I guess I really started to think deeply about it a couple of weeks ago when I was planning a parent workshop on the dangers of screen time and children. That, coupled with a great book that I just finished reading titled, The Big Disconnect, got me thinking about my own relationship with screens, particularly my phone, and the changes that I need to make to get to a healthier place in my life. It took a while but I guess it finally hit me…I need to do a better job of modeling a healthy screen time relationship not just for my own sake, but for my kids and my colleagues as well. The other thing is this…I’m not alone, and I bet if you think about it you’ll see that we’re all in this same boat together.

As educators we often discuss and debate the place that screens have in schools, and obviously these are really important conversations in this day and age. Actually, with all the research now out about how our brains are changing due to the excessive use of technology, these might just be the most important discussions that we can be having in schools…but you know what, it’s hard and really, really tricky to get it right and to find that healthy balance. One of my favorite quotes from the aforementioned book states that technology has been “designed to serve us, please us, inform us, entertain us, and connect us, and now our digital devices have come to define us”, and it’s true…we don’t just love our devices, we’re addicted to them. I’m worried about our society honestly, and how chained we are to technology and social media, and I’m wondering where it’s going to take us…will it get worse before it finally gets so bad that it wakes us all up and then gets better, or will it simply just get worse.

The thing that I’ve realized in my own life is this…it’s on me. With all the concern that I have about my own children and how much time they are spending on their devices both in school and out, the best way forward is to change my own habits and to lead by example. You see, my son loves the word “hypocrite”, and enjoys using it whenever I ask him to get off his iPad, and you know what, he’s right when he says it. Just last week he texted me from the same room and told me to get off my phone so I could come over and watch a video that he wanted to show me…unbelievable…but that was the final straw. So we finally came together as a family and created a family tech plan, which holds us all accountable for our daily use, and sets parameters for when and how we can engage with our devices. Like all habits though it takes time, energy, commitment and a whole lot of discipline to change them, but it’s been so freeing. With all the new found time we can bike ride, play outside, play games, be creative and imaginative, cook together, read (not on our devices), and we can talk more to each other…nice!

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I suspect that many of you (all of you) can also afford to take a critical look at your own relationship with screens, and find ways to build a healthier relationship. We have a responsibility as educators to model the behavior that we want to see in our kids, and if we want to decrease the amount of time that they spend on their devices then we need to show them the way…right now we aren’t doing a very good job of that…I know I’m not. The most important thing that we can do as adults is to model better screen time behavior for our kids…think about your screen habits after you read this and make a change or two…take it from me, it’s freeing and life changing for the better! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

Smart phones are so convenient that they’re an inconvenience

– Haruki Murakami


Related Articles –

The Perils of Screen Addiction (and How to Beat It)

Funny (sad) Comics

Your Brain and Smartphones

What is Screen Addiction?

Parents are Patient Zero


Book Recommendations –

The Big Disconnect

How to Break Up With Your Phone


Related Videos –

Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy

9 Signs of Screen Addiction

Ruining Lives– Simon Sinek

How is Your Phone Changing You?

Changing Your Brain

There Are No Good Guys, and Other Teachable Moments from the Kavanaugh Hearing

Follow Me on Twitter @msmeadowstweets

Brett Kavanaugh, now United States Supreme Court justice, is the latest in a string of men publicly demonstrating that there are no good guys.

Hang onto your #notallmen comebacks. There are no good guys – and there are no bad guys.

This type of binary thinking (good vs. bad) is problematic. Whether considering the sexual abuse epidemic in the Catholic church, or the extraordinary number of stories from the #metoo movement, a common theme is that people accused of assault are rarely pure villains. Someone out there is usually willing to vouch for their character, even to summon a respectable letter from the community attesting to their wholesomeness and good deeds. To take this as evidence that they have never once behaved inappropriately, however, is a logical fallacy with potentially serious consequences.

If a child understands that the adults in their life believe a religious leader/neighbour/doctor/family member/teacher is a ‘good guy’, and we’ve taught children to internalize people as being on one side or another of a good/bad binary, how might that impact their interpretation of a sexual assault? How might that influence their likelihood of reporting the ‘good guy’, or seeking help?

As educators, we can support children to see people as nuanced, and work to dismantle this simplistic good vs. bad misconception. Doing so may also encourage a healthier self-concept by giving little ones the chance to recover from mistakes that inevitably accompany learning. Otherwise, when a child uses binary thinking to judge themself, a simple misstep may create unnecessary internal conflict. Educators who cultivate a growth mindset with students will recognize this approach.

I do not mean to equivocate minor childhood gaffes with actual crimes, and this is not to say that someone who commits sexual assault in high school (allegedly) should be excused their behaviour and rewarded with a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court of the United States. Certainly we must face consequences for our choices. But, is Brett Kavanaugh entirely evil? Plenty of supporters would say no, and I agree: nobody is completely good or completely bad.

Other teachable moments from the Kavanaugh hearings:

  1. Sexual assault is not normal teen behaviour – it is violent behaviour. Let’s keep saying this loud and clear, and teaching children about consent early and often.
  2. Binge drinking is not normal teen behaviour; less than 1 in 3 American teens report drinking at all, and only 13% report binge drinking (defined as 4-5 beers in a row)[1]. Let us not normalize underage drinking.
  3. If a yearbook quote can follow you to a job interview in your 50’s, so can a social media post. Take care with online footprints.

If the recent U.S. Supreme Court nomination process came up with your students, how were you able to use it as a teachable moment?


[1] 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/results.htm