The need to promote a balanced lifestyle

Unfortunately my first post for this academic year comes as a bit of a grumble. I’ve just returned back from dinner at a lovely nearby restaurant. Eating alone tonight, I inevitably ended up people watching. Sitting at a nearby table was a typical middle to upper socio-economic family from Singapore, comprising of Mum, Dad, Grandma, two young children and a helper (the affectionate term for live-in domestic maids here in Singapore). The two children in this particular family were both boys and aged around 5 and 7 years old. Now comes the grumble.

As I sat waiting for my dinner, the older of the two boys was very happily (and loudly!) playing a game on his? his parents’? iPhone. Now let me just remind you that my job now is to promote the use of technology… more on that later. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see these parents letting their child kick a soccer ball around, play a board game, play with play-dough, etc. whilst waiting for dinner to arrive. Why is it OK for him to be playing a digital game? Dinner is a time for families to promote the importance of discussion and open conversations. ‘So, I guess they’ll make him put it away when the food comes out’, I thought. Well, you can imagine what went through my head as I looked up a little while longer to see the boy still playing his game and his father is now holding a fork out, with a piece of food on it, waiting for his boy to reach an appropriate stage in the game for him to lean forward, take the bite and continue on with the game! And this proceeded on throughout the whole meal.

I could go on about what I wanted to do and say to the parents at this point, but that would be futile. What I guess I can draw from this, and the many other similar situations we encounter every day, is the importance that we as teachers play in promoting (and modelling!) a healthy balance of technology use for work and play with ‘power-down times’ when we simply turn off the technology. There’s no doubting technology is ever-present in the lives of kids today. There’s also no doubting that it plays an essential role in helping all of us at work to learn, be more efficient, communicate more effectively quickly, as well as to unwind and be entertained. But, there has to be a balance, surely.

If nothing more, this observation tonight has reminded and inspired me that as someone promoting the use of technology in my school I also have a responsibility to promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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