Sound tech advice from the Principal’s Pen

I had to have my laptop fixed last week.   The tech team came and took it away one day at about 8:00 in the morning.  I watched them walk out the door with it.  I had to take a moment.

Everything.  I. Have. Been. Working. On. Was. On. That. Machine.

I am hopelessly numb about technology. I have tried.  Oh, I have tried. I’ve tried to understand blue tooth, syncing, the ”cloud”, wifi.  All of it.

My husband and I sit home at night and try to use our “smart tv”, Hulu, enable Alexa…it’s ridiculous how inept we are. So, obviously, we wait until our 20-something-year-olds come to visit and pounce on them with 300 technology needs we’ve been saving up.

Anyhow, my point is…last week, I didn’t have my computer, and I was pretty sure whatever they were going to do with it, to fix it, was going to result in losing years of work…unless I had saved it to “the cloud”…which obviously I hadn’t.  How would I survive this?

As it turns out…once I calmed myself down (“blue skies in, gray skies out…”), I discovered something.  I pushed myself away from my desk and what had become my lifeline….and headed out into the hallway….

I probably ended up having one of the best days of my school year.  I wasn’t thinking:   “I need to get back to my desk….I need to check my email….I have to go online to find…..”  None of that. I was free. I was looking up. I was more present.  I was more spontaneous.  It made me really think…

As we approach the holiday season, I am sure many of your children are wanting gifts of technology under their trees.  And why wouldn’t they? Tablets and video games are incredibly engaging and entertaining and there are some really super games and educational videos available at the touch of a screen…but proceed with caution.

Recently CNN Health published a compelling article last month claiming “MRI’s show screen time linked to slower brain development in preschoolers.”  The study scanned the brains of 3-5 year-olds who used screens more than the recommended one hour a day without parental involvement.  Those children had lower levels of development in the white matter of the brain… “the area key to the development of language, literacy and cognitive skills.”

Other studies have shown excessive screen time can result in:

  • Poor eating habits
  • Behavioral problems
  • Impaired executive functioning
  • Decrease in parent-child engagement
  • Language delays
  • The ability to pay attention

One of my dear friends always uses the age-old saying:  Everything in moderation. It’s a good saying.  Tried and true. I would never suggest banning technology, but I would suggest…technology in moderation.

As I discovered last week in my office, without the constant pull of my darned computer…I found myself more present for those who needed to talk to me. I found myself out and about and popping in and out of classrooms. I had conversations and moments with children that I would not have had if my computer had been on my desk. I’m not proud of that…but it is true.

So imagine your lives, not without technology, but with less technology. Would you spend more time outside?  Would you hike more? Would you play cards? Would you make more crafts? Would you talk more? Would you read more?  I know for me…the answer is “yes” to all of the above.

I am guilty as charged. Sometimes on the weekends, I have my grandchildren. Oh, they just love the iPad and all of the games we have loaded on it.   And when I am really tired….it’s sooooo tempting.   But, I can tell you….the times the children remember with me, have nothing to do with technology. They remember swimming and apple picking and sledding and making pancakes and cocoa and creating villages out of cardboard boxes…the activities that invite interaction and quiet conversations and chatting while doing. That’s the thing about technology….when children are “in the zone”, they aren’t talking to anyone…it’s child and machine.

When we discuss good teaching practices, the discussion is often:  “do more of this, do less of that”, and that’s how teachers fine-tune their craft. Spend less time on memorization, more time on decoding.  It’s the same thing with parenting.  We get better when we talk about: “I need to do more of x, and less of y.”  Food for thought.

Like I said, everything in moderation.  It’s a good rule to live by. Is screen time one thing your home needs less of?  If so…push away that technology and do more of all of the good stuff.  Maybe you will find what I found: Less screen time = more real time.  And that is the good stuff.

Happy holidays my Atwood friends.

Educationally Yours,


Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School


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