Going back to school is one of those transitions that happen every year. Parents start rolling back bedtimes, practicing getting kids to bed earlier and up in the morning earlier. Shopping for new shoes, uniforms, backpacks, notebooks, binders, and pencils becomes part of the new school year ritual as well. In the past several years it has come to the attention of school personnel, parents and other professionals that while technology is a wonderful thing, it can also be a huge distraction for students.
When I looked up the definition of “Multitasking” this is what I found: The concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes.
The definition came about in the 1960’s to describe computer or CPU capabilities. Computers don’t have feelings, emotions or concentration, so MT can be a very smooth process. There are no obstacles except a possible poorly written algorithm. People, on the other hand, do have feelings, emotions and require concentration to get most jobs done.
Within the last five or so years, technology has seen an even bigger boom than most of us could ever have imagined. Just as we were amazed at an astronaut landing on the moon in 1968…we baby boomers are blown away by computers, cell phones and twitter.
The impact of technology on children, tweens and teens is astounding. Kids now-a-days seem to breathe text messaging. No longer are kids giving out their home telephone number; in fact, many families don’t even have a land line.
Some of this is good…we can contact our kids at will. But some of this is also troubling.
[naviga:li]Looking at their phones hundreds of times a day-interrupted thought processes[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Conversations being interrupted to respond to a text message-not finishing sentences [/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Sleeping with phones equals interrupted sleep[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Phones at school breed interruptions while in class[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Phones during homework results in interrupted concentration[/naviga:li]
An article in USA Today in August 2009, referred to a phenomenon called “Cultural Autism” with the use of cell phones and computer communication, resulting in our youth:
[naviga:li]Unable to express feelings or emotions face to face[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Fearful of using telephones to set up their own appointments[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Inability to have face to face conversations.[/naviga:li]
Some solutions for you to consider for this school year:
[naviga:li]Before you purchase your child’s first cell phone…ask yourself…why am I doing this? If it is because your child is begging you that s/he cannot live without it and everyone else has one, yada yada yada….think good and hard. [/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Decide if your child/tween/teen really requires his or her cell phone while at school and if not do not allow them to bring it.[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Cell phones are handed over to parents after school and returned when homework is completed.[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Cell phones are handed over to parents during the child’s sleeping hours.[/naviga:li]
[naviga:li]Cell phones will become a power struggle. There is no way around it. Having a system for controlling their use will ensure that your child grows up socially adept and with a mind that can focus on one thing at a time.[/naviga:li]
Cell phones are only one distraction and there are many more. Before your child/tween/teen starts school, look closely at the computer, DS, WII and TV. What do you need to do to help limit these distractions? And while you are at it….look at all of this for you as well.
Susan Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach
Member Southeastern Connecticut Women’s NETWORK