Plugging in Mindfully

One of the things that has surprised me the most over the last six weeks is how unplugged from technology the majority of my students are. And it would appear, based on conversations I have had with them, that their lack of engagement with technology is by their own choice. Most have said that they are either not on or rarely use Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and any other thing you can think of. A few like Pinterest. Some say they read blogs, but most say they don’t. One has his own IPAD (and also tweets) and uses it to google questions that come up in class. He once took a picture of something I had up on the screen in class because he wanted to review it later.

unpluggedWhile most of my students do know how to get on the internet to look up at least basic information, many say they choose not to spend too much time online. They don’t see the point. They also don’t watch a lot of tv – well, according to them they don’t. Over the last three weeks, as they have lived in a college dorm, they informed me they have zero access to a tv, and they don’t care. They are too busy, they say, with what the program is having them do.

Nearly all of them have smart phones, but a few don’t. The ones who have them like to listen to music, occasionally, google something, and use it for texting. The ones who don’t are not bothered by it. They don’t believe they are missing out on anything.

I was surprised that my students were so unplugged. I guess I assumed in this day and age they would be more into using their phones and want to be on the internet more often than not. But they say they prefer to hang out with their friends in person and go to the movies and pretty much do stuff like you would expect a kid would do before we had smart phones and IPADS and what not to engage with. A decent amount of them are into sports and talk about excising and some even express thought over their nutritional intake.

What is interesting to me is how the directors of the program are hell-bent on restricting technology with the students. Students are not to have any access to me online be it email, FB (I agree with that in general), twitter, and so on. Initially, I had thought it might be worthwhile to have a class FB page or a twitter account just for the course, but that got nipped in the bud real fast. The directors do not seem to trust the kids with technology, and they have plenty of punitive measures in place if they use their phones in a class. Of course they apparently don’t know that I’m not interested in playing their punitive game and I bet they didn’t count on the students actually putting their stuff away or asking to use it in a totally appropriate manner. Honestly,  I tell them I trust them with their phone usage, they basically show me they can be trusted, and we all get along fine. When I ask someone to put something away, nine out of ten times that person apologizes it and does it. We move on.

I think, overall, my students have a great attitude towards technology and how they use it. I certainly don’t know everything they do, but from what I see I am impressed. It’s more thoughtful than I thought it would be. And the directors, well, they behave in a pretty stereotypical fashion in regards to the issue. They shut it all down, I am guessing, out of fear over what might happen and over a lack of trust in their students and, perhaps, in us as instructors. And that’s too bad, because these kids are worth trusting.