This Thursday, in addition to being our oldest turkey’s 25th birthday, is set aside for giving thanks. Many of my friends are keeping a gratitude journal through the month of November, listing one thing each day for which they are thankful on social media, and may even take time before the feast on Thursday to name something they are thankful for from the past year. I do not feel the need to blog on gratitude and the next generation even though I have plenty I could say on that topic.
Instead, I would like to encourage your family to spend the day reclaiming the slowly dying art of uninterrupted conversation. A couple of years ago this would be a concept that would need to be explained to teens: however, as of today many adults also need to be reintroduced to the idea. Technology is a great tool that almost all of us use on a daily basis and maybe even an hourly basis. And while I love that technology has provided limitless possibilities for education (contrary to popular opinion in my day job – copying and pasting from Wikipedia is not a benefit), increased personal safety, and made the world smaller and more connected, it has come with the cost of dependency and the inability to remain focused on personal conversation.
I will refrain from quoting statistics or giving anecdotes because I am quite sure that everyone recognizes this as a problem. And while parents may be all about less phone time for their students, children sadly admit that they also feel neglected at times by their parents due to technology. We have forgotten that we control our technology, but in reality most times our technology controls us.
So here’s the challenge: go cold turkey and make this Thanksgiving a phone-free day and enjoy and embrace uninterrupted quality conversations. If you can’t go all day, block off an hour or two around feasting time for no technology. For our family, this will mean that Kid 1 will not be texting, Kid 2 will have to go a couple of hours without listening to music by TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known as Prince), and Kid 3 will take a break from planning her Black Friday shopping (we’re still wondering if she was switched at birth). The biggest challenge will be keeping Scott from reading about the Iron Bowl on his device.
Here are a couple of practical ideas for those who may lack the discipline to carry this out. 1. Have a designated place to drop phones for the day. “Out of sight, out of mind” can be rewritten to apply to technology as “out of hand, out of Twitterverse.” 2. If you choose to be on the trust system but find someone is using his or her phone during the tech free time, put the device in Cell Jail or Phone Prison until the designated time is over. Some of my colleagues do this at work, but I prefer to not say “jail” and “prison” in my classroom if at all possible. The point is to be proactive in the removal of technology thus reducing the temptation to use it.
I am not a legalist. If you want to take a picture of your family, double check a recipe on Pinterest, or play some background music on Spotify, I do not consider this to be active use of technology. After all, I will count the banana pudding I eat on Thursday as a vegetable (isn’t living in the South great?), so I will technically only have three desserts on Thursday (apple, sweet potato, and pecan pie). Who am I to judge
So this Thanksgiving be intentional, be unplugged, and be present then post on social media how it goes.
*image courtesy of IDTech