Smarter Schools – Dumber Kids?

There has never been a time of abundance quite like today in America, but people are still over consumed with the desire for more. I would credit this phenomenon to our wonderful social media brainwashing applications, accompanied by a massive avalanche of advertisements specifically catered to our individual preferences.  Even those of us alert enough to see that our wants and needs are being systematically shaped by a digital world, made up with the friendly faces of our own family, friends, acquaintances and random strangers we have somehow added, are not immune to the consequences. Now instead of waiting 5 to 10 years for a reunion, we constantly compare ourselves to old classmates we would not have bothered to keep in touch with for decades, and even get frequent updates on how they eat, dress, vacation, exercise and countless other symbols of what we now consider to be an important part of a normal lifestyle.

If you catch the irony of me sharing my ideals on these applications, while simultaneously blasting them, I hear you. But I’m not blaming your Aunt Becky for oversharing her yoga poses, or your sister for sharing pictures of her newly remodeled home. I am blaming the entire system that was set up to make you fail. The programmers that sit there and find new ways to get you to keep scrolling with the perfect ratio of reward to crap, that keeps gamblers from stopping their losses, only instead of money, you’re gambling with time and mental space. And I blame the people who thought of monitoring your clicks so they could monetize that information, by carefully selling the right advertisements to the correct audience. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to notice the dramatic increase in travel advertisements after you have researched flights.

So many of us were only brought into this world of materialism after adolescence and still may not be faring well, so why would we let our kids be thrown to the sharks so early without strict limits and parental guidance? Why are so many teenagers walking around with unfettered access to the internet. Why are so many children babysat with screens? I’ll give you a hint. Parenting is hard and even worse, the same geniuses sitting around trying to get you addicted, do not see your kids as off limits. Au contraire, with recent findings that screen time negatively affect the brain, considering that a child’s brain is not fully developed, the earlier they hook you, the easier. So not only are parents overworked and over-stressed, our children are becoming increasingly smitten with their devices and putting up a better fight.

To make matters even worse, while most parents struggle to find a balance for their children, schools are promoting non stop screen use by going completely online with homework. No 12 year old should need a smart phone to hand in homework. As a parent, I find it increasingly frustrating to watch the school send home letters on internet safely, internet bullying, announcements inviting you to attend seminars on the dangers of social media and how to limit screen time, all the while assigning the majority of homework on google classroom, sometimes even after hours.

I’m sorry teachers, but the internet did not make it okay for you to forget to assign homework in class, only to later post it on the internet. My child is not yours after hours and if you can not do your job during class hours, you’ll have to wait until the next class. My child is not your employee and this is not her career. I will not allow the stress of being constantly connected to ruin my child’s childhood just because the internet has made it easier for school to follow her home. I also will not trust that an adolescent will give her undivided attention to your assignment while having access to various social media in her hands. Do you think parents should assume their kids have the self control many adults do not have, as we all know plenty of the adult workforce succumbs to the desire to check their feed. Maybe you expect me to sit over my child’s shoulder the entire time but I admit, that will not be penciled in my planner.

Unfortunately, I feel like I am the solitary parent fighting this battle in my child’s school. I hope I am just not connecting with the other like minded people out there that hold the same principals. I feel at a loss to find these like minded souls who will stop at nothing to give their kids the childhood they deserve, even if that means telling their teachers they are not a slave to their phones so they need to assign homework in class. Even if that means my child is printing and handwriting homework instead of doing every assignment with phone in hand. Even if that means my child is the only child walking around her junior high-school sans phone and GASP! traveling home on public transportation with out it as well. I will assure my child gets an education that enhances her mind rather than literally shrinking her brain, even if I am that one single parent that feel like a sore thumb because she will not fall in line simply because the school mandates it.

Now that parents who want to limit their child’s screen time are fighting on two fronts, the odds of helping our children find a healthy balance with smart technology seem smaller. I believe technology is important, but many of us grew up with little more than dial up internet and have transitioned well. We are not raising a generation of only computer programmers and social media influencers. We still need artists, surgeons, poets and children with basic social skills. I say the fact that people are actually socializing while ignoring those in front of them for their phones, walking into things and causing harm from texting and walking and the fact that increased smart phone use is correlated with increasing levels of depression, regardless of the type of activity, that there is a definite cause for concern and need for more studies accessing the risks verse benefits of smart devices, especially in schools.

How do you feel about children needing smartphones to hand in middle school assignments? Do you think that schools should look more into the risks to brain and body development as even posture is at risk from too much phone exposure. I for one, do not want to risk having a career bound daughter postponing her career to fix her carpel tunnel syndrome. Am I over-reacting or are these real reservations that we should investigate?

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