Wrangling technology for the youth of today

Over the summer, I had the chance to watch a baseball game every day through DirecTV’s Major League Season Pass. When the NFL football season started, though, baseball fell to the3 wayside to make room for time spent analyzing players and teams for my fantasy football leagues and Sundays in my blue chair watching every game at the same time. Except, it isn’t happening. My fantasy teams are in the toilet and every Sunday, I have alternate plans that leave me without access to the programming. Ah! DirecTV has a plan that allows you access to the NFL games on the iPhone and iPad, but not surprisingly, they charge extra for. Really?!!?!? A season long subscription that could include internet access to the games decides they want to charge extra for it. I have enjoyed every chance I have gotten to watch sports on TV because I know it monopolizes the big screen away from a wife who really doesn’t like watching them on television.

                While I spend my leisure time with the family, I always found sports was a “safe” TV event that everyone could watch without worrying about inappropriate content…until I saw an advertisement for an R-rated movie that scared even me. I wrote the networks last year, but to no avail, they have appeared again. My wife and I spend considerable amount of time discussing the impact that TV has had on our family and even the American family. While we monitor our children’s viewing habits, they probably watch too much. It’s just too easy to grab an extra 30 minutes while they watch another episode of “Arthur”.

More importantly, though, when they are engaged in watching, they are disengaging with the family. TV is hardly a family event anymore. With televisions in every room, children and spouses can visit the next room over to find a show that they prefer. Just the other day, I lamented the fact that the playroom did not have any episodes of “Caillou”. I guess if I want my children to watch less TV, I should be the first one to turn my programs off. Setting boundaries for the kids cannot be predicated on the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Kids mirror their parents’ behaviors.

Also, I see the growing impact that TV has had on the generations who enter school every year. As I struggle to get students to invest in the learning process, I find they all too often want their content delivered to them rather than seek it for themselves. When one channel bores them, they simply tune to another broadcast and never look back. A 250 page novel takes more effort than an episode of “The Jersey Shore”. I had one student ask me this year if he could just watch the movie instead of reading the book. Again I must say, really?!!??!

I think this exemplifies our society’s current struggle with technology. We love our gadgets and the tasks that we can use them for, whether checking business emails or playing a quick game; we simply need to integrate them into our lives in a way that enhances our daily existence. Yesterday, a student had his headphones on and his iPod turned so loud I could actually hear the music from across the room. After three attempts to call his name, his neighbor tapped him on the shoulder so that I could remind him that those are not permitted in my classroom. He actually said that he was listening to me. Whether TV, music, or games engage our children, they must know that there is an appropriate time and place for each of them. The next person that tries to hold a conversation with my while one earbud is in his left ear while the right one dangles across his chest will find me, for once, mute. I mean, really?!??!

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