Is Tech Taking Away from Family Time?

We took a Districtwide test this week that had a writing prompt which asked the children to write about an activity they enjoyed with their family.  One student shocked me with his response:

“My family doesn’t do anything together.  My mom plays Candy Crush on her phone, my dad plays with his x-box, my brother plays with his toys, and I play with my tablet.  So there’s nothing we actually do together.”

From the mouths of babes.  I was … well, a little disturbed.  This is a nice kid, I should tell you.  His mother is active, emails me,  checks his folder, he comes in with hair combed neatly and spotless clothes, and he’s in no way a discipline problem.  I was thinking of showing the paper to his mother … and then decided against it.  What would she think?  I know this kid is perhaps a little dramatic … and sometimes he does’t completely listen to directions (gifted, right?) but somehow it seemed that he had spoken to ills of an entire society in his short paragraph

I was just overtired at work this week anyway, felt I could barely handle my class.  At recess, I told a colleague this.  “You should be grateful you’re not my friend over in (neighboring suburban district)” she replied.   “She had such a bad kindergarten class, they split it in half and got a new teacher for the other half of them, and she says even the half is still too much, and she still has three left that throw chairs.”

“Chair throwers” are a thing in primary these days.  They’re everywhere, and most teachers are sure this is an increasing problem.  But no one is sure why.  Now, I propose the answer:  Mom is on Candy Crush, Dad is on x-box, and junior is on his own.  The result is that junior is not learning from mom and dad appropriate behavior.  When Junior comes to school, he’s not a *bad* kid, necessarily, but he lacks self control and adequate respect.

It’s not just them, either, it’s us, my own family!  My husband watches Netflix, I work on online grad school, my daughter’s on the phone … we’ve talked about a “shut down” of all electrics for family time, but haven’t actually done it.  Now it’s winter break, and I’m going to try it.  Six to eight every night.  I’ll report back and tell you how it goes.

2 thoughts on “Is Tech Taking Away from Family Time?”

  1. Please do report back on your powering off experiment. I am sure each family member will have an adjustment period, but in the end it will likely prove refreshing. I use NO TECH in my 8th grade classroom. I know the other teachers view me as a dinosaur, but I am committed to giving my students a learning experience that is tangible rather than virtual and that is communal rather than isolating. Your student’s response is indeed disturbing, and I fear we are raising (or not raising) more disturbed kids than ever. Thank you for sharing this, Sonja!

    1. Thanks Robert, it took some emotional fortitude to publish this and especially to admit the fact that my family are right in there with everyone else. I’m now writing the followup blog: Seven days on the Digital Diet. Of course I’m hoping this will last more than a week … Stay tuned!

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