Technology has replaced Play and is ruining our Health

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There is no denying that technology has become an integral part of our lives and will continue in this fashion for the foreseeable future.  In terms of the classroom, this development is excellent, as technology has become vital to teaching students across the world with a wide range of learning skills.  In fact, the advantages were explained eloquently in a number of blog posts by teachers such as Justine Stephenson-Kyle, Aubrey Swift, and Ian Temple, just to name a few.  However, today’s post will focus on what happens with technology when the school bell rings and the students head home.

My contention is that the students have become too reliant on technology as their only source of entertainment, and this is leading to a decrease in play and outdoor activity.  Obviously, this lack of play and exercise combines with the health hazards already associated with technology to create a society of children more unhealthy than ever before.

The fear of technology and machines taken over our lives has been around for many years.  Twenty-Five years ago, a cinema classic, Terminator 2, predicted what could happen if the machines took over.  While the machines may not have taken over in such a drastic way, there has definitely been a phenomenon present where students are addicted to their phones.  In my personal experience as a teacher, the moment students are given any free time they instantly take out their phones to check their various social media platforms.  In fact, there was a study performed on American college students which concluded that they were in fact, addicted to social media.

As I mentioned earlier, this problem extends beyond the classroom to social lives and free time of our students and ourselves as teachers as well.  Lindsey Holmes, an editor for the Huffington Post referenced a number of studies that can result from an overuse of technology.  Of particular note to young people, is the fact that our phones are causing skin blemishes, due to the unseemly amount of germs and bacteria  on our phones.  Another key point illustrates that “adverse impact on our sleep cycle thanks to the glowing light that’s emitted from screens.”  Furthermore, Holmes points out that this can be especially problematic for young people who need the proper amount of sleep.

Further examples can be found in this LiveStrong article, which highlights the fact that “an increase in exposure to technology goes hand in hand with a decrease in physical activity.”  The article continues on to prove that technology also increases snacking (usually of an unhealthy variety).

My final example comes from the study Determining the Effects of Technology on Children, by Kristina Hatch.  Within her study, she references a newsletter by the British Columbia Society of Occupational Therapists which states “Children now rely on technology for the majority of their play, grossly limiting necessary challenges to their bodies in order to achieve optimal sensory and motor development… with subsequent impact on achieving basic foundation skills necessary for literacy.”

Now the question you may have is what can we as teachers do change the behaviours outside of school hours.  Is this the job of the parents?  Or are we still responsible for our students actions on the evenings and weekends?  My belief is that while we are not “responsible” per se for the actions of our students on their own team, it would be best for them and for society as a whole if we could do our part to make them aware of the dangers of spending too much time on their devices.  After all, it has stated in the Saskatchewan Goals of Education since 1985 that we should help students “Recognize the importance of productive activity” and “Maintain a safe and healthy community.”  As well, it definitely couldn’t hurt to show them the hilarious and enlightening video about the benefits of nature.

My hope is that this post can spur some spirited discussion about other ways we can motivate students of all ages to put their phones down and get back to a lifestyle full of healthy exercise.

Until next time, as Hal Johnson and Joanne Mcleod would say “Keep fit and have fun.”

Body Break!
Body Break!

http://www.postcity.com/Post-City-Magazines/August-2013/Hal-johnson-and-joanne-mcleod-aint-messing-around/

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15 thoughts on “Technology has replaced Play and is ruining our Health

  1. Love the Terminator analogy Kyle. I agree that students rely on technology to entertain them and I feel like some parents find it easier to just have their kids out of the way watching tv or on a computer. It makes the job of a parent so much easier when kids are entertained by technology. However, kids can be “out of the way” and be doing something active as opposed to sitting on the couch. I don’t think that what students do outside of school is solely our responsibility but I do agree that we need to encourage them to be off of their devices. I liked that Jayme-Lee discussed this last night in the debate. I think it’s a great idea as a Phys Ed teacher to assign ‘homework’ that involves less screen time and more active time. I do think that the biggest changes need to come from the home though. Parents need to do a better job of encouraging active play. I am happy to say that in the last couple of years I have noticed a substantial increase in kids playing at the parks in my neighbourhood. Maybe that’s because there are just more kids?? But I like to think it’s because parents and teachers are encouraging kids to play outside. Whatever the reason, I sure like the change I am seeing. I hope it keeps progressing in the right direction.

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  2. I’d agree with you that creating awareness in our youth is the first step to steering children back into a physically active lifestyle. Minimizing screen time is huge. Hopefully this is something that teachers can have an impact on in the future more than they currently do today.

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  3. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking are just a few that are seriously worried about AI and a machine takeover…

    I agree with your comment about them being too reliant on technology for entertainment. I love me some video games, but after playing for an hour I’m ready to go sit outside and just soak in the feeling of being alive on a nice day, or reading a book, or whatever else! Far too many kids find little to no entertaining value in anything other than technology it seems.

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    1. You and I sound quite similar in that I enjoy playing some video games to unwind after a long day. I also agree that it needs to be combined with other, more phsyical types of activities. If we as teachers/parents can model that type of behaviour then our students should as well.

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  4. I agree with you completely. We have to encourage healthy habits for our students and families. By modeling play… whether it be open-ended play, using imaginations, going to parks, riding bikes, or making up games. Encouraging and modeling this for students is important in school so that it can continue at home. Sometimes I make suggestions on my monthly calendar for activities for families to try usually related to play, numeracy, patterning, etc. I think that I will try to add an “active” type activity in the future each month as well! – (For example: Go for a walk to the park as a family. Can your child find something at the park that is a circle, square, rectangle and triangle? Run an obstacle course with your child on the playground. Come home and draw your favourite part of your trip to the park together.)

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  5. Great post Kyle, and I am impressed you managed to fit a Body Break reference in at the end! Looks like I know where you stand in regards to our debate topic for later in the semester. Personally, I feel fortunate to work in a location where many students are still quite actively involved in physical activity. On most days the bike rack at our school is full, and most kids are involved in multiple community sports. Last Friday afternoon the grade 7 and 8 students at our school hosted “Record Breaking Day”. For two hours students and teachers attempted to set personal records in over 30 different physical activities. It was a huge success, with very few (if any) passive spectators.

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    1. Haha thanks Dean, I try to fit at least one fun reference in every article. That’s awesome to see how active the students and teachers are in your school. I feel like as they move to the high school level, those types activities seem to fade away. And I am definitely looking forward to collaborating for our debate.

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  6. Great post, Kyle! You are obviously very passionate about this topic, and as Dean mentioned, I can already see on which side of my debate you will find yourself later on in the semester. It is absolutely true that kids still need to play and be physically active, and it is sad that this has decreased recently. We need to create more awareness about the impact of over-use of technology, as well as the benefits of physical activity for children. You are right that although it may not be our technical responsibility as teachers, it is important for us to spread the information about this. If we won’t, who will?

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I agree that kids need to spend more time outside and less time attached to their devices. However I know that I am not perfect and need to emphasize this with my own children as well. Also I agree with your point about teachers spreading the information, just because we are not responsible for their actions, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t point them in the right direction

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