The article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Just too wired: Why teens don’t get enough sleep,” suggests that technological distractions are at the root of a lack of sleep for teenagers.
The reasons for this actually go back a lot further in time before MySpace and instant messaging, to the widespread use of electric light bulbs. That is something I remember reading in Dr. Richard Swenson’s excellent book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” a few years ago. Television and phones are also big factors. I am not denying the findings of the study discussed in the article: technology certainly plays a role. The irony of me blogging about this at 11 pm is not lost on me. I, too, find that technology provides reasons to stay up late. But I am not just reading when I am in the blogosphere. I am actively commenting, quoting, and writing. These are more sophisticated literacy tasks than just reading, and certainly more-so than watching TV or playing a video game. Kids today are multi-tasking, however. They are simultaneously online using IM, playing a video game, and talking on the phone. That was a clear finding in research done by Peter Grunwald, who presented 2 weeks ago at FETC.
I do agree with the idea that we need more sleep. I think today’s youth in many areas are generally over-programmed. This is a theme of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv, which my wife has read and told me about, but I still haven’t picked up. The premise is sound. Rather than remain “plugged in” to our info and technology saturated society as many hours of the day as possible, it is both healthy and necessary to unplug regularly. Our family does this best when we go camping. No cell phones, no computers, no TV, and no electricity besides flashlights. We go to bed when it gets dark (after a campfire and marshmallows, of course) and get up with the sun rises. That is much more in sync with the natural pace of life. Sadly, camping trips for us are too few and far between.
This line of thinking goes with the post “Let’s Fight for Recess” from earlier in the month. Those ideas seemed to resonate strongly with several other folks. As humans, we need down time. And this includes down time from technology. Another post that relates to this is “Snow Days are the best days,” from February 2005. We haven’t had a good “snow day” here in Lubbock, Texas, for many a moon.
This article suggests that students should go to bed earlier so they won’t fall asleep in school. But it does not explore the possible explanation: It seems likely that teens are more engaged and intrinsically motivated to be awake when they are at home in the evening and at night with ready access to technology tools, than when they are at school usually forced to “sit and get” in an educational system still largely stuck in the 1800s. This article can be read as a call for engaged teaching and learning, and environments where the interactive potential of web 2.0 tools is leveraged to encourage the authentic development of student literacy skills.
Thanks to Ian Jukes for posting on this article.
So… I will write no more tonight. Good night!
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On this day..
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- Why Are Thousands of Oklahoma Teachers Protesting Today at the Capitol? - 2014
- Podcast401: Why Club Penguin Is Awesome - 2013
- We all can learn a great deal from a great kindergarten teacher - 2010
- Fear not: The digital age is a great season for reading - 2010
- Podcast310: All a Twitter about Twitter: Micro-Blogging as a Professional Networking Tool by Beth Knittle (MASSCUE 2008) - 2009
- Join the live conversation today: Opportunities and Challenges for Web 2.0 in Schools - 2009
- Visualizing evidence for dark matter - 2008
- iPhone Web App explorations begin - 2008