Unplugging. What does it mean to you?

We ended our semester with a final Great Ed Tech Debate and it was definitely a great debate. The focus was looking at whether or not we have become too dependent on technology and if what we really need is to unplug. I think this is an extremely important topic to discuss for everyone, not just those of us in our class.  Technology has become a part of our modern day lives, but do we rely on it too much? Do we really need to be on our phones as much as we are? 

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

The first group agreed that we do need to unplug because we are becoming too dependent as well as lonely. The connections that we make online may give us a false sense of our ‘real life’ relationships. Even though we are more connected now than ever before, many people are feel more lonely. As humans we crave intimacy and scientists have proven that to be intimate you need to be vulnerable which requires courage. Social media removes vulnerability and courage because we can pick and choose what we want to say, when we want to say it and how we want to say it. I’m sure we’ve all written a status or post to go back and re-write it 2 or 3 times until it’s exactly the way we want it to sound (or hope it to sound). It is interesting to think about that when we think about all of the statuses and updates we read in a day. How many are authentic? Or are they all authentic? Maybe even more authentic because we have the opportunity to think about what we want to say and put our thoughts together in a way that really gets our points out there?

Studies have also found that using technology can be just as addictive as drugs and that many millennials are becoming attached to their phones.  I think that there is a lot of pressure for students to keep up with everything on social media. Even for myself, I often find myself suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) even though my friends and family don’t even update things that much. I find myself going back and forth between different social media apps throughout the day checking in to make sure I didn’t miss some major announcement like an engagement, pregnancy or birth. The constant ‘need’ to check in seems to be something that just happens naturally throughout the day. It’s almost as if I do it without thinking…it’s an automatic action. I often wonder why I feel the need to check in so often. I’m really not missing out on anything but the moment that’s happening right in front of me in ‘real life’. I try to make a conscious effort to put my phone in a different room while I am with my kids so that it’s not a distraction. But then they start doing something cute and I immediately go to reach for my phone to capture them on camera. Not having my phone with me, I usually run to grab it and by the time I get back the moment has passed. If I had my phone I would have been able to capture the moment.

Photo Credit: Martino's doodles via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Martino’s doodles via Compfight cc

But does capturing the moment on my phone have the same affect as capturing it with my own eyes without my device? A study has shown that we enjoy some moments more when we capture it with our phones. I would totally agree with these findings. However I do think that there is a difference between experiencing something while capturing every moment of it with our phones and experiencing it without capturing every moment with our phones. I think that taking pictures/videos can be a great way to experience an event. It’s nice to have something to look back on. But just like everything else I think there needs to be a balance. At a Garth Brooks concert I was at a few weeks ago, a lady in front of me recorded the WHOLE THING on her phone! She was basically watching the whole concert through her phone screen. Half the time the image being recorded was blurry because she was zoomed in and she wasn’t able to follow him the whole time because he moved all over. We made the comment that she will wake up in the morning and realize that wasn’t the best decision. Now if she had a tripod or something set up to record it so she could watch the whole thing in person and then be able to watch a quality recording of the video the next day, that would be a different story. I took some videos and a few pictures, but I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time because I would miss out on the experience I wanted in going to see him. I can watch youtube videos of his performances any day, so I wanted to make sure that I took it all in while I was there in person. Did I take some pictures and videos? Of course I did…two pictures before of me and the people I was with, and three short Snapchat videos of a few of my favourite songs. Do I regret not taking more? Not one bit.

Moving to the disagree side I have to admit I completely agree that it almost seems impossible to fully unplug. Even when we are in our cars, going for a walk or run, camping, travelling we are connected in someway. We use our phones to capture images that we will most likely share when we get a chance. Even when we are offline we are thinking about the online world. In reality, our offline and online worlds are not two distinct parts of our lives, they are our whole lives existing as one augmented reality.  It’s pretty clear that our online lives can exist without a lot of our offline lives, but do our offline lives depend on our online lives in the same way? Our offline lives existed long before our online lives, but this isn’t the case for our children who have been born with a digital life right from the day they were born without having any say about it. The idea of unplugging is something that our children will have to learn to manage more than we have had to because technology is still fairly new for most of us (10-15 years). Unplugging may also mean something different to each person. To me, unplugging is stepping away from social media most of all, and putting away our devices. I personally don’t worry about unplugging from TV but maybe that’s because I don’t use it too often, or I feel like when I do use it it’s to watch the news or a movie with my kids which I would consider to be positive uses.

Technology certainly plays a large role in our lives. It allows us to connect with people near and far. We can network, build friendships, meet new people and find communities that we feel welcome in. It allows us to video chat or FaceTime with no added cost. It helps us manage our personal lives including our mental and physical health. I think we can all see value in technology and appreciate social media but we have to be aware of the amount of time we spend on the devices we have. When it starts to take precedence over quality time spent face to face with our family, friends, spouses and kids I think we need to take a step back and think about how we can unplug and reconnect with the people around us.

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Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc

In the blink of an eye

This semester seemed to go by in the blink of an eye! I forgot about just how quickly spring classes fly by. For my summary of learning I decided to try something different and make a movie using iMovie. I haven’t used iMovie since I was an undergrad 10 years ago and I am definitely rusty. My editing skills peaked at the 10 second mark and went downhill from there (ha ha) but I did my best to make it work.

With this being my third class with Alec & Katia you would think that doing the summary of learning would get easier but IT DOESN’T! At least not for me. I find that each semester everyone sets the bar higher and higher which is fantastic for my viewing and learning pleasure, but not so fantastic for me when it comes to creating my own summary. From what I have seen so far everyone has done an AMAZING job of not only summarizing your learning, but doing it in a creative way! You’ll see from my video that my artistic abilities are nothing to write home about especially after seeing what Dre can do (talk about talented)! I always find it so difficult to sum up my learning into a short video and to match the video/pictures up with my voiceover. I tried to focus on the points that stood out to me in the class rather than trying to talk about EVERYTHING (because that seems impossible). I do find the whole thing challenging in so many ways, but I am happy with my final product.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge throughout the semester and presenting such awesome arguments during the debate. Personally I thought the debates were a great way to encourage us to view an issue from both sides and to critically discuss both sides of the issue. I like that it forced everyone to get involved and allowed us to have some pretty powerful discussions. I’m looking forward to the fall semester and hope to see some of you in the Zoom room again! Have a  great summer everyone!

 

Have we sold our soul?

This week was by far the toughest debate topic for me to wrap my head around. Maybe it’s because my head was in the sand with regards to this topic prior to the debate. Before the debate I hadn’t really given that much thought to the role that corporations play in our schools. Obviously I know they are involved as we use their textbooks and resources on a daily basis. But I hadn’t really thought about what they are gaining from having their materials in our schools. I know how businesses work and I know that they are getting richer anytime we buy resources from them but I have never given it much thought beyond this.

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

I found myself reading a lot of blogs this week because I wasn’t quite sure which side I agreed with. Just like Erin, I feel that if schools want to have resources and funding that sometimes we might have to go beyond what the government is giving us. Let’s be honest, in recent years education hasn’t exactly received any huge payouts by the government so it would be helpful if we could look to the private sectors to help out. However, that being said we need to be mindful of the reasons why corporations want to be involved because most of the time it is to benefit themselves in some way. Kelsie did a great job of discussing this in her last post. We need to consider the reasons corporations want to be involved with education and ask ourselves the why questions.

In our chat on Tuesday we brought up the idea of companies funding schools or providing bursary’s where students receiving funding would have to agree to give back to the company by working for them for an agreed term. My friend was given a scholarship from Shoppers Drug Mart in while she was in pharmacy at the U of S and part of her getting the scholarship meant she had to agree to work with Shoppers at a location in a smaller city in Saskatchewan for two years after completing school. I think this is a fair way for them to help out. She was given help in paying for her school and in return she provided them with work for two years. After the two years were up she was able to leave and work wherever she wanted. Not a bad deal, but I know that’s not always the way things work.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

One thing that really struck me while reading and thinking back to the debate and chat was the idea that education is thought of as a business. Typically most businesses make money, in terms of education, that just isn’t the case. Schools don’t make money. We spend money. We spend money on resources and teachers to provide an education to students who we hope will become contributing members of society. The money is spent on investing in the future through these students. It seems as though the government is always looking at ways to cut spending and save money in education. I agree that there are probably areas that we can save money like transportation, printing and supervision but in my mind, if we cut back in those areas in order to save, that money should be put towards other areas. I feel like if we do cut back that they will just continue us to cutback in all areas rather than taking the money and using it for educational assistants or more support staff.

In terms Pearson and everything I learned about that corporation this week, I don’t know what to think. First off, I didn’t realize they were a British company (I had assumed Canadian). I also didn’t realize that they create so many of the standardized tests for the United States. I thought that we had a pretty large number of standardized tests here in Canada but I was amazed to hear how many some states have. My problem with these tests is that they are all the same. There is no adaptations for anyone and I believe them to be biased in many ways. At my school we find that they can be culturally biased so students who have come from other countries struggle to answer the questions properly. We have to question what the goals of the standardized tests are. Are they really helping students? Is the data helping teachers see student weaknesses? Are students taking the tests seriously (insert student groans and eye rolls here)? We mentioned in class that teachers have a good idea of where their students stand academically without the tests, so does it make sense to have them? I know the standardized part of it plays a big role in government decisions and statistics because all students are scored using the same evaluation and test. I don’t teach any classes that involve standardized tests so I can’t comment much more on them but John Oliver always does a great job of shedding light on a controversial topic in a humorous way and he does just that in this video about standardized tests.

The last thing I wanted to comment on is the idea of evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores. There are so many ways this could go wrong. You could have the teacher that teaches ONLY what is on the test and leaves out anything else in the curriculum missing valuable material. You could have a dishonest teacher hint towards answers or give answers to students to increase scores. What about when students find out that teachers are being paid and evaluated based on the test scores? If they don’t like you, will they purposely answer incorrectly? These are all things that we have to take into consideration and I don’t believe that we should pay teachers based on these scores. There are far too many things that could go wrong if this happens. Teachers should be evaluated by superintendents or school administration who are able to observe the teacher teach on a number of occasions.

I think I just rambled on and on and I’m not sure I made much sense, but I’m not sure I fully understand all the details in order to provide a strong response. It’s a different look at education involving politics and business which I’m not well versed in. I hope I was at least able to give you something to think about.

Does social media need a time out?

This week we looked at whether or not social media is ruining childhood. The debate was really well done by both sides and although I agreed with the statement that it is ruining childhood, after reading some of the blogs this week I don’t know if I truly feel that way. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being really indecisive and sitting on the fence ha ha. Thanks to Jeremy and Amy for making it hard for me to stick to my original stance on the agree side.

Let me start with discussing the agree side which was the side that I was originally leaning towards. There were a few reasons I was leaning more towards this side than the other. The first is the issue with different mental health issues that can be brought on by technology.  Stress, sleep deprivation, cyberbullying and depression are all issues that children deal with when using technology and social media. I know what you’re thinking – “these issues existed before technology and social media were around.”  And you would be right in saying that. Stress, bullying, sleep deprivation and depression have been around since the beginning of time I’m sure. However, I do believe that technology and social media have played a big role in the intensity of these issues in adolescents. Technology adds to stress because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others through social media.

Stress might come from maintaining a large network of Facebook friends, feeling jealous of their well-documented and well-appointed lives, the demands of replying to text messages, the addictive allure of photos of fantastic crafts on Pinterest, having to keep up with status updates on Twitter, and the “fear of missing out” on activities in the lives of friends and family – Pew Research Center

Bullying has always existed, but recent bullying statistics show that there are more ways to bully someone using technology compared to times when technology didn’t exist. Technology makes bullying a lot harder to escape because it can follow the victim long after they have left. Sleep deprivation caused by increased use of technology and having devices in our rooms can lead to decreased attention span, drowsiness, depression and decreased grades. Social Media Depression may be something that we need to have more open conversations with our children (and even ourselves) about.

I also agree that social media is hurting the development of face to face communication skills in our youth and even adults. It is also difficult to communicate through text because we can easily misinterpret the tone of the message being sent. Take a look at this short video and see if it looks familiar. I’m sure most of us have been in a situation where we have misinterpreted a text or email and have had to clarify what we meant over the phone or face to face. When it comes to communicating face to face 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. Body language and tone of voice play a huge role in this and when we communicate using technology those aspects are removed. It can be difficult to communicate face to face if we don’t develop the right skills to do it. In order to better communicate face to face we need time to practice.

The last thing that I have to say about it affecting childhood in a bad way is the false sense of ‘friendship’ they are receiving. Although this study has shown that 52% of students feel social media has helped make their friendships stronger I have to question that. I have to question whether having over 1000+ friends on social media makes students feel like they have a truly strong group of friends or gives them a sense of belongingness and popularity. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have on social media, studies have shown that out of all the friends you only have 4 close friends from that list.  Now when I think about that and think back to my days in high school, I would say that I had a friends list of 30-40 people that I would have considered ‘friends’ but out of those people there were only 3 other girls that I would have considered my best friends. So has social media changed the fact that although we know a lot of people and may call them friends, we really only have a handful of people we can go to to talk about real life or look to for support? I don’t think it has which might be interesting to think about.

I do agree that social media and technology can connect us. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends (especially the ones who don’t live near us). We can reach out to family and friends and share information with them. I have to admit that although it connects us, I have found that I personally will pick up the phone less and less to call people to catch up. Instead I sift through Facebook waiting for them to update something about their life. Which is completely silly. If I want to know what’s up with them, I should call. But most of the time I don’t. So although it can provide great opportunities to connect us, if you are like me, it has potential to create some distance that doesn’t need to be there.

I really like this article that gives 5 reasons social media might actually be helping your kids.  I think discovering new interests and helping with creativity are definitely big pluses. I also agree with this article stating that it gives a sense of belonging and helps them express themselves. It is great that it provides a channel for them to express themselves, but we must teach them to do it in an appropriate way. Just because you can post something publicly and reach a large number of people doesn’t mean you have to throw out common sense or proper manners. We need to be teaching students that social media is a great tool for promoting issues and shedding light on them.

I think there are a lot of things that we can be worrying about when it comes to social media and technology. We do need to be mindful for their mental and physical health. We need to also be aware of the sexualization of young girls through the media as Shannon talked about. But we can’t blame technology for everything. I don’t think that technology is the problem even though my blog leans more towards the agree side. I do believe all the points I discussed but I know that we can use technology in positive ways to prevent those negative issues from becoming big problems. We as parents and teachers need to work with our children to harness the positive aspect of technology. We need to teach our children common sense, morals and manners. I feel like we blame technology because it’s easier to blame technology than to blame ourselves for not speaking up or having discussions with our children. As times change, our parenting needs to change. It’s not technology that needs a time out, we are the ones we need a time out. We need a time out to think about how we can create balance and healthy technology habits for our children so that social media and technology have a positive impact on our lives rather than negative one.

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Life’s not fair

Have you ever been told that life’s just not fair? I remember complaining about things as a kid to have my mom tell me that sometimes life isn’t fair. I would love to believe that we could someday live in a world that is fair, but what does fair mean? Does fair mean equal? I don’t believe that fair means equal. As many of my classmates have pointed out, equal means that things are the same. Danielle compares equity and equality by providing some webster’s definitions and this would further my point that for something to be fair it doesn’t mean that things should be or are equal. Equity on the other hand can provide fairness by levelling the playing field for each individual by giving them the support they need to meet their goals. Kyle shared a great picture that depicts the difference between equality and equity. So now that we have taken a minute to discuss the difference between equity and equality, we must think about the role technology plays in this. Is technology a force for equity in society?

 If equality means giving everyone the same resourcesequity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and thrive. – Shane Safir 

I want to focus on technology in the classroom before looking at the greater society. Simply throwing laptops or iPads at students and expecting it to have some sort of huge impact on their learning isn’t realistic. As Kelsey states, technology is a tool.  Students still need to know how to find information and use the computers properly. If they need to write an essay or a paper, the computer won’t do it for them. They still need to know how to form proper sentences and create a paragraph that makes sense. In order for them to do this, they need to be given other resources such as reading and writing support. Students cannot be given a calculator and expect that they will suddenly understand math. Sure they might be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide using a calculator just like everyone else can, but take away that tool and suddenly we are back to a unequal playing field. Tyler discusses assistive technology and how it can help students with disabilities by creating a more equal playing field. I totally agree with this, but just like he said, we have to remember that not everyone has access to these tools. We must also consider the time and money that has to go into implementing this tools and putting them to use. Not everyone has the money to be able to make use of the tools.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that students who used computers more than others actually had poorer scores. They also found that using computers increases the socio-economic divide that already exists in society.

The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.

I would have to agree that we need to focus on reading and math skills as a way of closing the gap as opposed to assuming that more access to technology will give us results. Sure technology can help. But we cannot think that technology is the only answer. There are amazing apps and websites that can help students learn, but we need to make sure that we are focusing on the fundamentals and making sure that technology is used as a way to enhance learning as opposed to technology being used to be the teacher. If we are looking for ways to crete equity in our classroom without using technology, Shane Safir has some great ideas on edutopia.

In terms of the digital divide in society and the socio-economic gaps, I don’t think that technology will solve all of our problems and create equality. There are far too many issues that technology can’t solve such as poverty, abuse, and mental illness. Can technology help? Absolutely. But it isn’t the driving force that will create equality in our society. We have seen some great ways that technology is helping communities that don’t have access to doctor’s 24/7.  I think it’s great that we are trying to bridge the gap and make use of technology when we can. There are certain situations in which we can close the gap, but we will have to look beyond technology for the most part when looking to create equality in society.

I feel as though I sounded like I am totally against technology and don’t think it has any value but that really isn’t the case. I do think there are situations that technology can be used to bridge the gap. I don’t think it is the solution to all of our problems though. I also don’t think that throwing computers to students will bridge academic gaps for all. The academic gaps in our classroom stem from issues with basic skills like reading, writing, thinking and problem solving. Technology can assist us in providing support to students who are struggling, but we must work with them. Technology is just a tool. We must work with our students to meet their needs by providing them with resources that will help them thrive. Technology isn’t the only resource.

Sharing Online: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This week we focused on sharing online and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just like almost everything else in life there is a good side a bad side and even an ugly side. When we talk about sharing online we have to consider so many different ways that we share. We can share personal information, work related information, information about out kids and information about our students. Just like Roxanne mentions, no matter what we are sharing, we always need to think about who is seeing the information and what will the effects of that share be? I will attempt to look at all sides and share my thoughts on all of this.

The Good

Screen Shot of my Facebook Account

Screen Shot of my Facebook Account

There are many ways that sharing online can be positive. I’ll start with sharing our personal lives online. For me personally I have decided to share most of my personal information on Facebook because I have my privacy set highest on that account. I also have a limited number of friends and family on the account having only 204 people on my friends list (many of which are family). Although I have always been cautious of who I add online this number used to be closer to 500. I would say that at least once a year I go back over my friends list and delete people I don’t feel as connected to anymore. I don’t want to share information about my life or my kids life with people who I consider to only be acquaintances. In order to decide who I keep online I ask myself if I saw that person in the mall from a distance would I make the effort to go and talk to them. If the answer is no I delete them, if it’s yes I keep them. This is my way of keeping myself comfortable with the information I am sharing with my Facebook community.

Amy discusses sharing information about her kids and mentions that she is mindful of what she is posting and I am the same way. Even though I feel like it’s my close family and friends on my friend list I am always wondering if my kids will want to see this in the future. I also ask myself is this something my family and friends would appreciate or find nice to see? If it’s a rant, or me complaining about something I refrain from posting because I’m sure people don’t want to see that. I like the ability to share milestones, celebrations and pictures with family and friends who aren’t able to see my kids on a regular basis as well. In my life this is a big positive for social media. While I like to share, I tried to avoid being a “sharent“.

In our classrooms sharing can be an awesome way to keep parents in the know, communicate with students and share our classroom activities and student progress. Kathy Cassidy from Moose Jaw, Sk shares how student blogging has helped her students in the classroom. When students share online it can make them more accountable and they may produce better work. Teachers are able to share resources with other teachers and collaborate to make better resources. We talked a lot about not reinventing the wheel and this is a great way for teachers to work together. There are a lot of different benefits of sharing student work online. I think it’s a great way for students to share work beyond the four walls of their classroom. I also like that when students share with a larger audience they feel their work has a bigger impact. When they receive valuable comment from others it gives even more meaning to their work.

The Bad

While there are definite positives to sharing online, there are also negatives. As parents we can choose what we want to share about our kids, but we need to think about the long term digital footprints we are creating for our children. Sharenting can be a bad thing when we are sharing information that our children may be embarrassed by when they see it later. By sharing information about our kids we are creating their digital footprint. Do we have the right to create their online identity for them before they have any control over it? It is easy for us to post about our frustrations as parents thinking that we are only exposing information about our own lives when in fact we are exposing our children as well. We need to remember that digital footprints are like tattoos.  When posting online about your students keep this video in mind.

The Peel School District provides some social media guidelines that I think are important in preventing the bad from taking over. One guideline that stood out for me was the professional boundaries. I know teachers who are friends with students on Facebook and I have never been too sure about that. I think that it could be very easy for conversations or posts to become unprofessional or though of as so. Social media does allow us to connect with one another but we need to make sure that our connections with students are professional. In these guidelines it also suggests when to share student work. The bad side of sharing student work could be that students aren’t happy with the product once it is shared and that will be on the internet forever.

The Ugly

Sometimes information we share can go from bad to ugly. This was the case with Amanda Todd, a young girl who took her own life after a shared photo of her lead to extreme bullying. There are many similar cases in which information shared on social media results in such negative things. Sharing publicly could also leave you more susceptible to identity fraud as is the case with Alec who has been dealing with the issue for a few years now.

What Do We Do?

So, what do we do? How do we ensure that our sharing online is a positive thing? We all need to be aware of our digital footprint and the digital footprint we are creating for others when we share. We need to teach students that anytime something is shared online it’s there forever. We need to take care of our digital footprint and be proactive about it because if we aren’t, then someone else will.  We need to be mindful of what we are sharing and consider the lasting effects it will have. We also need to encourage people to share and have an online presence that is positive. I think a lot of people are afraid to share because we are worried about putting ourselves out there and worried about who will see it. The more we put ourselves out there and establish an online identity, the easier it will be to control it and prevent bad things from happening. The most important thing is to start teaching this from a very young age. Our students and children are growing up in a world where devices are used daily. They need to know what is appropriate and what is not and how to create a positive online identity.

Technology and Health: It’s a balancing act.

This past week our second debate focused on how technology affects our health. Does technology have a negative impact on our health? Are there ways that technology is helping us in our quest to be healthier? How does technology affect our mental and emotional health? There were a lot of questions that were asked and a lot of information that was shared. Both groups did a great job presenting their arguments and I’d like to offer my perspective on the issue. You’ll notice that some of my ideas echo others in our class.

I’ll start with some of the arguments that I believe more strongly about. I completely agree that we all spend too much time behind screens or with a device in our hand. This isn’t a problem that is only affecting our youth. Many adults are now spending more time on their phones/devices than they are sleeping.  If you compare the effects of sleepiness to the effects of a good nights sleep it is easy to see the importance of getting a good night sleep. Youth are also being affected by the lack of sleep caused by using technology, gaming, social media and text messaging.  Sleep deprivation can lead to a significant number of health concerns for children and it can also impact their grades in school. Here is a great video that explains how our screen time impacts the amount of sleep we are getting.

I strongly believe that we should be doing our best to prevent our kids (and ourselves) from using devices or watching tv before bed. I know that it seems way easier said than done especially if you are like me and have excuse after excuse for why you need to have your phone in your room…”What if there’s an emergency and someone needs to get ahold of me??”…probably my silliest excuse because my phone is always on silent in the evening anyways. “How will I know what time it is?” Here’s an idea…buy an alarm clock. “I like to watch Netflix before bed”, I don’t have a solution for this other than to get your Netflix fix at some other point in time. Craig Canapari suggests ways that we can help prevent sleep problems caused by using technology.  There are a lot of great suggestions but I think the important thing is to lead by example and start young. We need to set the expectations when our children are younger so that it creates a foundation for when they are in their teen years. I like to think that I’ll be able to prevent my kids from having their phones in their rooms at night, but I don’t know how that will go over when the time comes. I hope we can have an agreement in place so that they can get a good night sleep.

horizontal-162952_1280Childhood obesity is on the rise and I don’t know if we can blame technology completely, but I do believe that it is definitely contributing to it.  It is pretty obvious to see that sitting in front of a screen requires little physical activity. This limited activity isn’t only contributing to the obesity levels, but a variety of other physical health issues. Sure there are devices, systems, and apps that might encourage users to be physically active but we have to ask if these provide us with the same benefits of not using them? The devices and apps probably do a better job of encouraging us to workout or eat healthier, but the game systems like the Wii Fit don’t do the trick. Come to think of it, I don’t think the Wii is that popular anymore. I think it came in hot and then died out because if someone wants to play a video game, they want to sit smart-watch-889639_1280and play. They don’t want to have to move or work to play the game. I also think that running on the spot or bowling using a remote doesn’t provide you with the same experience. You are missing out on the environment that we experience those activities in. Holding the weight of the ball, or running outside stimulates different muscles and I would argue requires much more work. Apps like Map My Run and My Fitness Pal  are great for monitoring progress, tracking and setting goals as are devices like FitBit or Apple Watch. However we have to wonder if the devices are making us healthier, or is it our choice to use them that is making us healthier? One study found that exercise levels typically increase for the first few months before returning to the former level when the novelty wears off.

medical-781422_1920On the plus side, I do think that technology has definitely helped us when it comes to improving modern medicine. It is incredible to think about the different ways that technology works to help diagnose, monitor and prevent different medical issues. Technology has come a long way and is continuing to make a difference by transforming health care.  Fellow classmate Bob knows first hand how wearable devices can help record and track important information to monitor a health condition. It is important to remember the role that technology has in our health care system and keep that in mind when we question whether or not technology is making us unhealthy or not.

My final thoughts stem from reading Erin’s latest blog. I definitely think that our health is highly dependent on the choices we make. This relates to more than just technology and our health. If we make poor choices when it comes to eating and exercising, chances are we will be unhealthy. When we use fitness devices or apps to track our activity, it’s not the device that is making us healthy, it is our choice to be healthy. The device certainly helps keep us motivated and accountable but we still need to make the choice to get up and go, or eat healthy in order for the device to do it’s work. We cannot simply download an app and expect it to make us healthy. We need to make that choice. We need to help our kids make healthy choices and I think the best way we can do that is to model healthy habits. If our kids see us on our phone or computer all the time, what do you think they will think is healthy? If we put our devices down and encourage our kids to do the same, we are modelling that positive behaviour that should result in healthy habits. Taking our kids to the park and sitting on our phones is not setting a good example. Take a few pictures sure, but we don’t need to constantly be snapping or recording everything that they do. Play with your kids. Eat healthy. Exercise. Limit your own screen time especially in the evening. Set a positive example for your kids and it’s more likely that they will follow in your footsteps. Just like so many other things in life, it’s all about balance and moderation.

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What do you think about technology and our health? How does it help us? Is it making us more healthy or unhealthy? Have you ever used an app or device to help you with your fitness goals? Did it work? I had one, and I was one of those people who didn’t last more than six months with mine😦 But I realized I didn’t need an expensive device to help me stay active. It was all up to me. I had to make the choice to eat healthier and exercise, the device wasn’t doing it for me.