Perhaps, the most frequent excuse I  have used for my own limited use of all things internet is my own desire to be more personable in real life.  Too many times have I seen people face-deep into Facebook across the table from a nearly mirrored reflection face-deep in Twitter or vice versa.  People have become so reliant on social media that they have ceased being sociable.  I experience the same type of captivation in my own classroom, my students are in awe of my teaching, okay, they are in awe of google.  Having one to one electronic devices is sometimes a curse.

Students constantly have multiple tabs open while doing projects, writing papers or taking notes.  Nine times out of ten, however, the tabs are completely off topic and do nothing but distract my students.  Don’t get me wrong, my students may not be angels but they are far from awful.  The problem lies in multitasking.  Most of my students tend to think of multitasking as a positive trait.  Despite my best efforts to show them the benefits of doing one task at a time, and how much is missed by trying to take on multiple tasks they persist in trying to multitask.

Multitasking leads to another problem: attentiveness, or lack there of.  I am aware that a teenager’s ability to focus is not that of an adult, but they still boggle my mind.  I am reminded of a video that I showed them when we discussed multitasking and attentiveness.

Seeing With Your Brain

A now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t experiment demonstrates how the brain plays tricks. . . .

I showed my students this National Geographic video about how the brain sees in order to explain to them that trying to focus on one of many things leads to attentive problems in relation to other things.  Multitasking distracts from focus to the point of completely missing information that is plainly presented, as in this National Geographic video.

Leo Babauta suggests a means for overcomming inattentive multitasking: simplification.  He reminds us all that often the best way to keep from being overwhelmed is by simplifying one’s intake.  We do not need social media, we can live without it.

Paul Miller was a techy that quit the internet cold turkey for a year.  While he abstained from using the internet he discovered his own family.  He realized all that he missed growing up with his face in a digital media device.  He discovered the intense personal connections he could make with others.

After returning to the internet he made another discovery.  Though he connected with others in a more personal way he could not completely negate using the internet because it is a tool in which he could better connect to the world around him.  Miller learned that he could control the internet, and not allow it to control him, as the face-deep Facebookers allow.

Moderation, self-control, and simplification are the ways I feel that I can best help teach my students to be mindful of the world in which they live, both online and on Earth.


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