We’ve written a lot about children’s screen time; how much is ‘OK’ and at what age etc. Just in case you missed past articles, Calgary Reads follows the recommendations of The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) that released new guidelines in June 2017.
The CPS says parents and caregivers should not only minimize their child’s screen time at home but use it mindfully themselves. This is on my mind today. I encourage adults to pay more attention to their own use of screens. Not only what they are modeling to their children – but, the impact of technology use on the ability to be still, dig deep, reflect and learn. Not to mention the impact of technology on the authenticity of relationships!
A few years ago, Calgary Reads invited Nicholas Carr to Calgary to speak at our Big Book Club event. In a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he had posed the question: Is Google making us stupid? And, he also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?
He spoke to us about his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. He described how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer. And he challenged us with the fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience.
Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. The outcome can include our inability to be quiet, be still and focus. We now have a hectic (seemingly insatiable) need for small, every changing bits of information to the detriment of us diving deeply to spend time with complex information and critical thinking.
In The Big Disconnect: The Story of Technology and Loneliness Giles Slade speaks to the loss of face-to-face exchanges and the decline of real human interactions due to our use of technology. We thought that our gadgets, screens and ever growing online communities would bring us numerous links and abundant connections, but the opposite seems true. He says sixty million Americans report that isolation and loneliness are major sources of their unhappiness.
I know personally the struggle to ‘allow’ myself to unplug and disconnect. But, as a reader, thinker and someone who values personal relationships, my hope today is that we all reduce our screen time. Instead, slow down, make time for deep reading and critical thinking, rediscover genuine face to face community and human empathy . . . and, always put down your devices to focus on your family and friends.
Steacy Collyer, CEO Calgary Reads