Part of my job here at The Edge is to surf the web, looking for videos, articles, pictures, and fun stuff to share with all of you. So when my friends say, “how do you find the time to FIND all this goofy stuff?” That’s how. Mystery solved.
About half of the time, I can’t publicly share what I find. No, seriously – don’t ask – I can’t. Sorry. Sites are completely superfluous, out of context, or just inappropriate. It takes a long time (sometimes) to find good stuff, but it’s often in the journey looking for one thing that I find gems: StoryCorps stories, PostSecret postcards, out of the way blogs, and yes, even a site that sells bacon related items. Laughing babies and animal-human reunions are also high on the list.
When I am at home, I try NOT to get online (I have this adorable 6 month old to distract me, after all…), except to show my glutton-for-punishment husband all the funny stuff I found that day. I understand that there is an entire school of thought out there that says people are getting too much screen time and not enough face time. I get that. I would even go so far as to say that we might want to consider limiting screen time in general. But my issue isn’t so much with the screen time as it is with the level of distraction.
It’s unbelievable how quick and subtle it is when it happens. I’ll be looking for a video showing student writing conferences, and suddenly I’m watching some video of a goat falling down. I can’t specifically recall how I got from A to G (for goat), but I got there. That’s time neither the company or I can get back. It’s fighting a HUGE urge…one that I can’t even identify…to keep my searches on target. It counters what my eyes and brain want to do. I almost have to say it out loud: “NO GOATS. STUDENT WRITERS.”
Although some may question this, my brain is fully developed and can discern the differences between ways I should and shouldn’t spend my time – so what chance do the younger folks have? If it’s a challenge for this old gal to focus, imagine what digitally native children have to do to not look, watch, and take in everything they see on the Internet. My 6 month old is drawn to the TV and the computer because of the flashing pictures and noises – we have to completely shut down those devices when he is in the room, because redirection is hopeless. The Internet caters to those instant gratification impulses, and the desire to be entertained, and those impulses are powerful. You don’t have to explain that to ad agencies and web developers – they have been using those impulses for years to make lots of moola.
This doesn’t absolve me or the young’uns of responsibility, by the way. I just offer an opportunity to check perspective. It’s not just those meddling kids – it’s us too! When we teach media literacy, we must acknowledge that the media is a powerful beast driven by us, and we have to respect its pervasiveness. However, we have to decide the place it has in our lives, and to find ways to keep it at bay. Otherwise, we run into the danger of missing all of the wonderful ways that true (not virtual) reality can enhance us and our lives.
How do you address the media in your classrooms or with your children? Comment below if you can share any tricks and tips you have that can help cage the media dragon.
Off to find respectable videos!