Are We Undermining Our Children’s Education?

A mindful use of digital media in the home and classroom


Published:

How difficult is it nowadays to engage the whole family in a talk? Or if you’re a teacher, how difficult is it to engage a class of students?

One cause cited by parents and teachers for this increased difficulty with face-to-face group discussions at home and in school is the almost ubiquitous presence of cell phones and other digital media in our lives today. A teacher and former colleague recently told me that students even use their phones to order food to be delivered in the middle of a class. When I asked why she put up with it, she said she couldn’t do anything about it. It was too engrained in the school (and national) culture.

I find this frightening. How can anyone learn well, or engage with others in meaningful discussions, when their attention is tuned to the expectation of a text?

Self-Reflective Questions For Parents And Teachers About Media Use

Teachers and other adults can be as addicted to their devices as children. We can all benefit by increasing our self-awareness.  

How much time do you spend on your phone, computer, and social media?

How do you feel when you see your children on their phones when you are trying to talk with them? How do you think they feel when you are on the phone when they are trying to talk with you? Who do you prioritize: the person standing before you, or the one on the phone?

Did you want to stop reading this post as soon as you realized what it was about?

Meetings are essential to facilitate family or staff cooperation. When I first started teaching, I looked forward to staff meetings. It was often the only time I could talk with other teachers to share strategies and feelings.

Are your staff or family meetings a comfortable place to be, where people listen patiently, empathically, and diligently to each other?

What percentage of the staff or family spends meetings with their minds locked on some device instead of on the people in the room?

Many teachers have developed creative ways to incorporate student’s media and cell phone habit in classroom exercises, for example by having students use their devices to research material or respond to each other digitally instead of face-to-face. This can be useful, but we always have to ask what children learn from such techniques.

Are such practices helping you teach or model how to have empathic, caring relationships, both online and in person?

Or are they contributing to the unease with face-to-face conversations that many young people feel?

Digital media give us a gift of ready information. But we need to be aware of the price we pay for the habitual use of this technology. We can grow to expect instant answers and thus lose patience with any desire for depth. We can come to expect 24/7 access to our children and friends or mistake the goal of relationships for possessing great numbers of “friends” we can count and use for our personal aims. We can mistake the goal of education for merely gaining more bits of information to show off or use in the future. We need to remember that people are not bits of information.

Questions And Activities For Children

There are many children now who don’t feel comfortable arranging face-time together with their peers. Everything is arranged for them, not by them. This, combined with problematic cell phone use, can lead to isolation, anxiety and possibly narcissism.

Instead of just imposing rules, be an ally of your students and children. Ask what they like and don’t like in general about cell phones.

Talk with students about media holidays, days or segments of a class where all devices must be put away. Make agreements that you, too, will follow.

To effectively examine with students the role of digital devices in the classroom, start by asking sincere questions about how to learn together. You can ask these questions as part of a discussion, or have them write and share their answers either with the whole class or in small groups.

What does community or family mean to you? How do you want to be treated here?

For teenagers especially, you might ask: Do you ever find yourself yearning for a deeper life, or wanting something but you don’t know what it is?

Practicing Mindfulness

Ask students if they are interested in learning how to think more clearly and feel more powerful. If they say yes, ask if they have practiced mindfulness. Assign and discuss research on its uses. Then students will ask you to let them practice.  

Can you feel power over your own your own life if you don’t understand your own mind?

Mindfulness practice is one of the best ways to develop clarity of thinking as well as self-understanding. It is not only a practice you could do daily but a state of mind characterized by moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations and relationships. It allows us to notice the early stages of anxiety or habitual behavior, so we can interrupt either.

Do you only want to read about it, or do you want to experience it?

Would you prefer a few minutes of practice to start each day, or once or twice a week?

Model and practice with your children:

When you feel an impulse to turn to any social media platform, take 2 calming breaths and then ask yourself: Why do I want to do this now? Is it simply habit?

This way you create a gap between impulse and response. You decrease automatic behavior and increase insight.

A Little Compassion Goes A Long Way

If you’re on a social media platform and you notice yourself getting angry or feeling hurt:

Close your eyes, take a few breaths, and imagine the person who triggered your feelings. What exactly was said that set you off?

Then go back and check if what was said matches what you imagined. Ask yourself:

What might he or she have been feeling when she said it? What might she have been thinking? Why might she have said this? If she was angry, imagine the pain she might have been feeling.

Then shift your focus.

If you know this person outside of social media, or even if you don’t, is what you imagine this person meant by her text or tweet or whatever consistent with what you experienced in the past?

In your imagination, wish for him a sense of calm or peace, an easing of his pain.

Then shift to your breath. Notice the sensations or feelings that arise as you breathe in and out. Feel how your body expands as you inhale—and let’s go, relaxes, settles down as you exhale. Maybe feel your shoulders expand as you inhale. And as you exhale, notice how your shoulders drop, let go, and relax. Just sit for a second with that sense of relaxation and letting go.

Conclusion

In our world today, not only are we bombarded with messages to keep up with the latest technology, we feel that doing so makes us appear more important. The ping of the cell phone is an affirmation that we are valued.

So, especially for young people who grow up with digital media, being disconnected means being less valuable. They fear what they might miss (FOMO), even to the extent of keeping their phones with them at night, which can interfere with sleep and contribute to anxiety and depression. This serves the interest of big corporations whose primary interest is in turning children into malleable consumers, not clear-thinking adults.

It is our responsibility as parents and teachers to model for our children how to feel more in control and less controlled by their cell phones and other media.

When students feel the class is a safe community, concerned with the issues that stir them, they will more readily engage in the class. They will engage even in discussions that require questioning of their own habits and beliefs, even in questioning and becoming more aware of their habitual use of their phones and other media.

Ira Rabois has many years of experience as a secondary school teacher, instructor in the traditional Japanese martial arts, and meditation practitioner. While teaching for 27 years at the Lehman Alternative School in Ithaca, N. Y., he developed an innovative curriculum in English, Philosophy, History, Drama, Martial Arts, and Psychology, and refined a method of mindful questioning. He writes a blog on education and mindfulness. Mr. Rabois is the author of Compassionate Critical Thinking: How Mindfulness, Creativity, Empathy, and Socratic Questioning Can Transform Teaching. www.IraRabois.com.

This post is adapted from one originally published by Mindfulteachers.org.

See also:
How Big Wireless War-Gamed The Science On Risks, While Making Customers Addicted To Their Phones
The Downside of Multitasking: The Benefits of Being Present

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

November 12, 2019

The excitement of the Full “Beaver” Moon in Taurus dominates the busy morning. These early hours are highly energized and with multiple planets in supportive roles, chock full with important happenings. There are opportunities to renegotiate and renew…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

November 2019

No matter how broken or damaged you may feel, there is a deep well of stillness inside of you that is always there! Connected. Whole. Unchanging and Ever present. Yoga Nidra or Conscious Sleep...

Cost: $20 each session

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
View map »


Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In gratitude for your service, please join us at Dragonfly Wellness Center at 176 Jackson Road, Devens for refreshments and complimentary 15 minute sessions of: Chair massage Shamanic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA  01432
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga Anita
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us at our free Boot Camp created specifically for post-divorce issues! About this event: Make new connections while learning essential strategies for building your post-divorce life with...

Cost: Free

Where:
RMS Residential Mortgage Services
465 South Washington Street
2nd Floor
North Attleboro, MA  02760
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Come join us for a guided drumming circle to celebrate the November “Beaver” Moon. Arlene Dorischild will lead fellow drummers in a celebration to honor this special lunar event....

Cost: Donation

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Peaceful Creations LLC
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
Website »

More information

Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Wellness Roundtable Holistic Practitioners Network creates an environment for wellness practitioners to inspire, educate and support one another, while building community and encouraging...

Cost: $20 (Drop-ins are welcome)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
View map »


Sponsor: 01581
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

How would it feel to have direct education on changing your feelings so you do start to ask for what you truly want? Each month, come and practice hands-on skills to get into the habit of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem , NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Retire the Curse, Enhance the Blessing with Sally Sugatt, LICSW, C-IAYT Do you feel locked into your family’s karma (reactions, cycles or patterns)? Come explore how you have been...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Award winning artist, musician and channeler, David Young shares his amazing revelations. Orchestrated synchronicities over the course of four years uncover the truth of what happened 2,000...

Cost: $35

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Peaceful Creations
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
Website »

More information

Facilitator: Peyton Pugmire Fridays, 9/20, 10/18, 11/15, 12/20, 9:30am–10:30am Everyone leaves with a powerful message to inspire their weekend!  Join Peyton Pugmire,...

Cost: Pay What You Wish

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
Website »

More information

Four week series for girls ages 11 and up with Leigh Sloss This series of classes will focus on some of the most effective yoga and mindfulness skills for reducing stress and anxiety.  In a...

Cost: Series: $75; Drop in rate $20

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn the facts about Lyme Disease and how to protect yourself and your family! The Central Mass Lyme Foundation will host its 4th Lyme Disease Conference....

Cost: In advance: $30, at the door: $40

Where:
Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center
366 Main St.
Exit 9 off Mass Pike
Sturbridge, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Central Mass Lyme Foundation
Contact Name: Michele Miller
Website »

More information

With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist. In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Telephone: (617) 527-3583
Contact Name: Ross J. Miller
Website »

More information

Instructor: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+/Adult Like meditating with a paintbrush!  Come re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul, and your divine intuition—one brushstroke...

Cost: $120 (includes all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
Website »

More information

Practice what you have learned in Yoga for Plantar Fasciitis Part 1 (Nov. 2). Relieve pain on the bottom of the foot. It's not the usual stretching. It's a gentle way to...

Cost: $35 preregister; $40 at the door

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Medittaion Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108b (next to hair salon)
Westborough, MA, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: Pat Lebau Yoga
Telephone: 508-393-5581
Contact Name: Pat Lebau
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free of charge as a community service, contributions welcome.

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center and Gallery
1110 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Brahma Kumaris
Telephone: 617–547–1110
Website »

More information

Reiki Master Teacher Libby Barnett, M.S.W., integrates her healing skills with past experience as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital. 38 years experience. Reiki...

Where:
Weston, MA


Telephone: 603-654-2787
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-230-3680
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags