Tuned out and plugged in

Guilty. Makes me question what message I’m sending to my son?  Honestly, what is more important than face to face time?  Nothing.  How many times have you seen people in public tuned out and plugged in even though they are not alone?

Last semester I shared with my students how we never received personal phone calls at school when I first began teaching in the early 90’s.  The only messages we ever received were from parents asking us to call at our earliest convenience. Those days are over.  Now we have made ourselves available 24/7.  The messages we receive all day aren’t just messages we find in our mailbox at school either.  We  receive all sorts of updates/messages professional and personal throughout the day now.  Is this what our lives have become?

There is no reason why anyone should break eye contact to check a device.  Since I have been more aware of my own actions, I no longer immediately answer the beep or the vibration of my iPhone when I’m with face to face with anyone and I limit checking it when I’m home with my family.

We can’t become the generation that tuned out and plugged in or we’ll be the generation who missed out!



  • Comments from graduate students on the video included in this post:

    Jennifer: I can totally relate to this. I have actually had to excuse myself to the bathrooms because of the urge to check on email, text and voice mail. It is sad to think that this is how we are becoming. Sometimes I think we do need a reality check to determine what is really important in our lives. In the wake of this past storm and being cut off from the normal technology routine, it was a true eye opener and it brought me back to those family values. It has been what seems like a long time since I was able to spend quality time with my son. We read, played board games and had a blast together. Then we got power again and life returned to what was normal. Me working on all my projects for classes and him occupying himself for most of the evenings. Sad, but true. It breaks my heart. People need to take time away from technology every once in a while just to reboot themselves, to put life into perspective again. We cannot keep going at this fast pace and we will never catch all the aspects of how technology is changing. We can’t keep up. We are not programed that way. Eventually, we will shut down. Is this movie out yet? It looks like a great eye-opener. Thanks for sharing!

    Kate: I agree with Jennifer – losing power made life seemed to slow down and go back to the world before we were all connected. It was nice to not have to worry about responding to an email or a phone call for just a bit. I was actually saddened with the power came back on. I immediately felt obligated to answer. On the other hand, it is nice to get an instant response to an email or text sent. And be able to contact someone immediately: and yes I am one that gets upset when I get a voicemail at times. This movie looks interesting and I hope I can get the chance to go see it. Technology has changed so much since I was growing up, I can only imagine what
    my sons world will be when he is grown up. Thanks for sharing!

    Me: I have made a conscious decision to leave my iPhone off at night and not be so available to everyone during the day. Why carry it in your pocket? Why do we jump once it starts to ring? When I first started teaching in 1993, I never would receive a phone call from anyone I knew personally. I might have a message in my box at the end of the day to call a parent, but no one called you during your professional day. Even when I was a principal in 2003-2005 I never received a personal phone call at school. People would wait until you were not working to call you. Now we have constant texts and reminders throughout our work day. The scary part is that people will break eye contact to check their mobile device. What is more important than face to face interaction? Nothing. The text or call can and should wait!

    I’m concerned about young children. Have you seen families at a restaurant? Either the parents are on the device or the child (even the toddlers and babies) are on the device. Tuned out and not involved. Tell me how is this a good thing?

    I get that being on a device is engaging and certainly more engaging than sitting and watching T.V., but it can not replace spending quality time with loved ones. So, parents need to put the device away and model the importance of family time!

    Judy: I have turned off my cell phone while on campus. In fact, I have forgotten I even have one. In the last couple weeks, I have rarely used it. Wondering if I should stop paying for the service, or do I really want this device for the few times I need it: a phone call in an emergency, a quick photo of scene that would be too difficult to find again. Just think: society succeeded so well before the invention of cell phones. Do we really need them? Now, don’t get me talking about people talking on cell phones while driving. I see it every day, and I can see the drivers are distracted. I have gotten to driving so defensively, that driving has turned into a full-time preoccupation that can be exhausted: always looking out for the next person and what he or she might do while distracted. As for students using them during classes: I have walked the halls of McDonough and have seen students texting on their phones while the instructor is lecturing in front of the class. Are these people obsessed or what? Is the message really all that important? How is texting during class or at other inopportune different than having an addiction? The urge happens, and the person can’t control it. As soon as classes let out, you can see people walking about with their cell phones in hand. In a busy city, it just a matter of time until a cell phone user is hit by a car. Whose fault would it be?!

    Beth: This video really opened my eyes to how overly connected we are at all times. My students are not allowed to have their cell phones on them during the school days, but teachers are allowed to have theirs on in their desks. I sometimes think that texting is destroying true conversation because some people have lost the ability to talk face to face – they would much rather send out a short text written in short misspelled words ( i, u, rnt,2morro). I have found that I often resort to texting rather than having personal face to face converations which is really sad. In the next year my goal is to have some days in which I can unplug and get back to quality conversations and some time spent without the anxiety of trying to respond to a text message.


    Looking forward to hear how you model tuning in and unplugging!

  • Being connected is often nice. Through the likes of Twitter and blogging I have become ‘linked in’ with other professionals who share and exchange their ideas. But when being connected overtakes your life (excusing yourself to check messages/email; not being able to walk by the computer without getting on) it borders on addiction. I know that I can easily fall into that ‘addiction’ category and have to ‘work’ at NOT hopping on the computer or iPhone.

    When the power was out several months ago we were all going crazy in our house. After a bit – we fell into old, old routines of playing games, reading together and creating drawings and paintings. It made me realize that though the advances in technology are wonderful we are missing out on the basics of human interactions.

    Mostly, I worry about my children as they seem not to be able to live without their phones and devices. Imposing restrictions helps but only to a certain degree. Even through they use ‘Social Media’ they (like their friends) are not really ‘social’. What I mean is – they don’t like to answer REAL phone calls and will be sitting with a friend while texting another friend. They think texting IS talking.

    This post has reminded me that we need to go back to the basics. A few years ago there was a push to make one evening “Family Game Night”. I think it’s time to make some evenings ‘Family Night’ and UNPLUG!

    Thanks for sharing.

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