Technology Watch 2018

Technology Watch 2018 | eBook Cover

Here’s my gift to you: a free copy of my new eBook, Technology Watch 2018.

The book is a compilation of all my articles that appeared in various newspapers in 2018.

Enjoy!

Continue reading “Technology Watch 2018”

Cellphones at schools – should they be banned?

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced a nationwide ban of cellphones at schools. Was this a wise move? Is this a well-thought-out strategy?

French parents and teachers’ unions are dubious. They say the decision lacks logic and pragmatism. What makes this situation particularly tricky is that children will actually be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to use them.

Naturally, teachers want to know how the ban will actually be enforced Will we force children to “check in” their phones every morning, or will we leave the phones with them, and simply trust them to “do the right thing”?

Perhaps an idea might be to put the phones into lockers. If so, do schools have enough lockers? And then, who’s checking to see that the phones are actually going into the lockers?

Maybe security guards carefully monitoring students via a network of security cameras? What about the bathrooms?

Then there’s the question of wearable devices. I’m not sure if the French authorities are aware that you can interact with your smart phone using a smart watch, even if it’s safely locked up inside a locker. Should smart watches then be included in the ban? Will there be a daily pat-down for smart watches? That sounds like fun.

Then there are more subtle nuances such as what actually constitutes usage of a cellphone.

If a child pulls out a phone to check the time, or to check a message from a parent, is this tantamount to a violation? Does she deserve detention for this?

It’s not clear how the French authorities will deal with these logistical challenges, but one thing is certainly very clear: the ban comes into effect in September this year, and they currently don’t have a clue.

Of course, schools have very compelling reasons for banning cellphones. They are dealing with really serious issues relating to cellphones that are not just detrimental to the learning and teaching process, but also pose a risk to children’s physical, emotional and mental health – risks that come from spending too much of time slouched in front of a tiny screen.

Let’s face it: this is not a French problem, but a problem of global proportions, affecting every country and every culture.

Teachers everywhere are struggling to get any teaching done because learners are constantly distracted by their ringing, buzzing, chiming pocket devices. Children rudely text each other while the teachers are talking.

Then there are serious issues like pornography and cyberbullying. According to global statistics, children as young as 10 years old are exposed to internet porn, and this is no doubt a cause for alarm.

Ultimately, the question shouldn’t be whether or not cellphones should be banned, but whether banning them will deal with these problems effectively.

Are children going to be more motivated to learn, and are porn and cyberbullying going to go away? Or are we just running away from the real problem?

Kids spending too much time with gadgets? Try Nature Walks

According to some studies, the average kid spends at least 42 hours a week in front of a screen, and only about 40 minutes outside.

Now I am all for technology and gadgets, but even I have to admit, we have a problem here. That’s just too much time with gadgets!

So, what’s the solution? Do we take the gadgets away? Or maybe impose restrictions?

Unfortunately, being a father of three gadget geeks, I can tell you that taking the gadgets away just doesn’t work (it’s a nice way to get your kids to resent you) while imposing restrictions has only limited effectiveness. We need something more.

Add, don’t Subtract

What’s a parent to do then? Here’s a tip that worked for me: add, don’t subtract. In other words, rather than take away gadgets, introduce an alternative.

Give them something else to do that is fun and exciting, while at the same time providing multiple benefits. Something that will preferably get the kids outside.

One activity that meets the above criteria is nature walks. Nature walks are for everyone: mums, dads, kids, grandparents. They are not only free, but also provide amazing benefits for everyone, particularly the kids.

Benefits of Nature Walks

It’s impossible to list all the benefits of nature walks, but here are a few:

  • It gets kids outside, away from gadgets: this is probably the most obvious benefit.  One exception to this is a digital camera, because nature photography is really good for kids.
  • Healthy bodies: nature walks are a great form of exercise, especially if they are a bit challenging with steep climbs.
  • Healthy minds: walking itself is great for the mind: it’s been proven to improve memory, increase creativity and boost your productivity. Combined with nature, the effect is multiplied.
  • Healthy souls: nature walks reduce stress, create a sense of calmness and makes you feel happy. There is something about being in nature that is just amazingly soothing. Which brings us to the next benefit…
  • Allows them to use their senses: nature provides countless stimuli for all the senses, whether they are looking at the countless shades of green, listening to the beautiful songs of birds, taking in the scent of a flower or feeling the roughness of a tree’s bark.
  • Strengthens family bonds: there is no substitute for spending quality time together as a family, and doing a nature walk encourages everyone to talk and basically enjoy each other’s company.
  • Creates an appreciation for nature, wildlife and the environment: unlike our forefathers, we live in artificial environments, completely detached from nature, making it hard to appreciate the natural wonders around us. Nature walks brings us all up close with nature, rekindling that awe and appreciation for the world.
  • Above all, it’s a deeply spiritual experience: there is no better way to reconnect with your creator than through observing His creation first hand.

Conclusion

Technology is great, but we need to get out as much as possible, spend sufficient time outdoors and get enough exercise.

Very few activities are as enjoyable and chock full of benefits as nature walks.

So the next chance you get, get your gang a pair of hiking shoes and try out the nature trails in your area.

Have you had any amazing experiences in nature? Please share in the comments below.