I recognise that this this not a subject that I am entitled or qualified to give advice on. Over the last eight years I have been rather glued to my devices, checking e-mail each day and finding it difficult not to be in touch with school life, even throughout the holidays. This Easter I attempted to take a complete break and that included being gadget free! I set up the auto reply on the e-mail account and disconnected work for the ten days of the family holiday. The results were certainly beneficial for me and I began to notice the impact ICT was having in other families.
Two incidents stand out, the first in a solemn Eucharist in the Cathedral. I was irritated to see two children sitting in front of me wearing headphones and playing games, one of them particularly violent. While the service progressed, including some beautiful music, the two children didn’t look up at any point, and at no point did the parents suggest they disconnect! I resisted the temptation to make comment, perhaps I should have done.
While staying in a hotel I began to notice families sitting after or during dinner often in silence in silence each glued to a tablet or phone. No group discussions, games or human interaction of any form, just a family unit plugged in, in isolation, it can’t be healthy. We have a policy on devices within school, which I hope is sensible. We ask students not to use them during lesson time unless it is connected to their learning and I know that many parents are comforted by the fact that their children have a phone with them particularly relevant perhaps within a city centre site. I wonder if we need to consider supporting students and staff more, encouraging them to be less reliant on devices, and to take a break.