Mindfulness seems to be a hot topic right now both in education and in terms of how we use technology. I recently read about some primary schools that are implementing breaks for the students to use meditation and different techniques to increase mindfulness and help calm some of the “wiggles’ in the students. With this strategy becoming more widely used in schools, it begs the question, “What about mindfulness in adults or adolescents”?
Paul Miller’s TED Talk on quitting the internet can help to put a new perspective on the pros and cons of being dependent on digital technology and social media. On one hand, sites like Facebook and Twitter and even tools like e-mail can bring a sense of community and help us feel connected to the world around us as well as aid us in being better organized. It can help us document and share our most precious and valuable moments or accomplishments with those we care about. Unfortunately, the corroded flip-side of that coin is that we can become almost zombie-like when we open up those apps and begin scrolling out of what we believe is boredom. In an article on MindShift Katrina Schwartz discusses a class of high school students who were challenged to give up their cell phones along with any kind of digital technology for a period of 3 days and surprisingly, most of the students recognized the benefits of taking a break from technology. The most helpful information I have read on this topic was in an article about how to cut back on your time spent online and how to make the most of the time that you do spend online. In this article, Leo Babauta lists several specific techniques to help go on a digital “diet” such as quitting your most frequently visited social media site, choosing carefully when and what you post, and deleting unwanted e-mails as well as unsubscribing to their senders. Although I do not typically spend a lot of time on social media outside of what is required for this digital literacy class, I have already begun to take some of the steps listed in the article. I have also downloaded the app called Moment in order to track how much time I spend on my phone every day.
There have been studies done on the effects of social media, video games, and time spent on other online sites have shown that there can be both pros and cons depending on the length of time spent. For instance, students can use certain digital apps in school to aid in learning and if the time spent on these is carefully regulated by the teaching staff, there is usually no harm done. Conversely, when we spend hours on end playing video games or scrolling through social media sites, we become disconnected and even begin to form a dependency much like that of a drug addict. There is a wealth of information and knowledge to be gained as well as the ability to connect with people around the globe that comes with these digital tools but we must be cautious in how we use them and how often.