Cell phone ringers, alarms for zoom meetings, notifications on social media, video game updates, safeguarding websites for children’s screen time, navigating multiple tabs while livestreaming in a classroom, video calls for staff development, emails flooding your inbox, and the list goes on. Does this sound familiar?
Just this past week, I was teaching in this unusual setting, and the internet completely went down at 9:34 am. My zoom shut down, google classroom was gone, the emails were no longer dinging, and guess what? It was silent. . . The students all stared at me and they froze. “What do we do Mrs. Iler? The computers aren’t working.”
I paused for a second, and I said “Let’s get back to learning.”
It was liberating. I was freed of managing multiple screens, constant reminders and notifications, I could focus on the individuals who were right in front of me. This moment of bliss lasted for about 30 minutes and then the internet was up and running, and life went back to 21st century living.
But, I wonder if we all paused for a moment, and tried this exercise for an hour, for a day, for a weekend what would be the outcome? There are therapy groups specifically focused on technology addictions, “unplugging summer camps”, how to reconnect with your partner/spouse away from technology.
Look someone in the eyes and have a face to face conversation. . . versus an online chat, email, or video call. Don’t get me wrong, technology helped us function throughout this pandemic. It served as the method to instruct children, for business to carry on, and for families to connect as we were sequestered to our homes.
However, the gears are shifting. And we are slowly able to come out of our caves. We can free ourselves from all of these technology devices and start to have real interactions with humans.
I was recently speaking to a pediatrician and she said she repeats one statement daily to patients, “Go outside, play, start to interact again.”
It’s hard to learn a routine, it’s harder to break a routine. It takes on average 21 days/times to learn a new routine. It takes up to 90 days to break a negative habit.
When my students stared at me and had no idea what to do without the use of technology, I was stunned for a moment as well. Teaching like this for over 365 days, we have this new routine working pretty well. Then, it all came back to me.
The art of playing together, sharing a space with someone, or sitting in silence and just observing a surrounding - avoid of screen stimulation.
It’s hard for children these days, but guess what? It’s harder for us adults to break away from these modern amenities as well. I am just as guilty as my children checking updates on my phone, working into the night, because it is so easy to stay plugged in. I was recently taking a yoga class, of course via zoom, and I heard my phone vibrate. My first instinct was to get up and check my message. I had to restrain myself from that knee jerk response of automatically responding to someone’s request.
Think about how many times you might check a message, in the midst of your child trying to tell you about their favorite new game, your spouse telling you about their day, or even your dog trying to get your attention for a ball toss.
So, I made up my mind. I have already started to plan some bucket list ideas for this summer. Guess what, they are void of technology. I had my fill and I am ready to get out and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us, not the pictures that are posted on a screen.
Quieting the noise in my mind, I think will lead to some amazing moments that will be captured in my heart (which will be longer lasting- even if the internet goes down).