By: Laurie Wolke
Like so many of you, I find it challenging to strike a balance between the attention commanded by my iPhone and my logical understanding that it is important to put it away. This powerful device allows me to work on the go, read the "newspaper" in between meetings, peruse the Instagram feeds of my friends and family to keep up with their daily lives, make a dinner reservation in under a minute, or look up a fact that is eluding me in seconds.
Yet the attention this miraculous device draws drains our brains and our children's brains.
At Back to School Night, I talked about studies showing the negative impacts on children's school performance, sleep, and social lives resulting from tech devices in their bedrooms. Even more concerning are the many recent studies indicating that mere proximity to our smartphones negatively impacts our intellect.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece called, "How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds," which summarized some of this new research. Here's the gist -- we are so overly attached to our smartphones that their presence (even when not in use) can impede our ability to reason, problem-solve, feel empathy, and connect with others. For students at the college and secondary school levels, two studies demonstrated that simply having a smartphone in the classroom negatively impacted performance by an entire grade.
But at Laurence, we're all about "solving and evolving." Last week, Internet security, safety, and ethics expert, Lori Getz, spoke to our parents about managing technology in their family's lives. She had many kernels of useful knowledge, but I want to share one that is relevant here. And you can use it today!
Lori told us that she bought a charging station for her house and put it near the front door. The rule in her home is that parents and kids put their devices in the station as soon as they walk in. This impacted her family in several important ways.
- First, it allowed her to give her kids technology when requested, instead of constantly taking it away.
- Second, it kept the grownups from looking at their phones while talking to their children – allowing them to both model desirable behavior and better connect with their kids.
- Third, it kept devices out of the bedroom, which improved sleep.
And, yes, the last piece required the purchase of a good, old-fashioned alarm clock!
During our Back to School events, you were provided with a sleeping bag for your cell phone. Please use it! Laurence is all about connection and communication. With study after study imploring us to put our devices away, it is exciting to have a concrete step to take as we solve, evolve, and overcome challenges caused by our beloved and infinitely useful smartphones.
References: "How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds," Nicholas Carr, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 6, 2017; "The mere presence of your smartphone reduces brain power, study shows," ScienceDaily.com, June 23, 2017.
Parents who missed Lori Getz's Parent Education Series talk this week can view it online on the Videos page under the Parents section of our website.