How Electronic Devices Mess with Your Teaching Life (And How You Can Fight It)

A recent research study on technology use revealed that on average, adults checks their phone 85 times a day. 85!

The saddest part is a lot of that phone time is spent in the company of others, especially our family. How does this addictive phone checking impact a teacher’s family life at home?

Imagine a student with their phone in class…

  • responding to texts every time it vibrates while you’re teaching
  • sending silly selfies through Snapchat during group work
  • playing Candy Crush during the test

That distracted kid might pick up on some of the content being covered in class, but there would be a lot of gaps in their learning. The impact for teachers at home is no different.

For students, too much technology distracts them from learning. For teachers at home, it distracts us from loving and connecting.

How You Can Fight It

  1. Take all email off your phone.

Scrolling through your inbox on the couch may not seem like a big deal, but what if you read a spiteful message from a parent that gets you fired up? Or what if your principal asks you to turn in something by the end of the week? Then what happens?

That email can drop your mood, increasing your anxiety for several hours while you’re with your family, when you really shouldn’t be worried about it until you are back at work the next day.

Check your email 1st thing in the morning when you get to school and before you leave each day. You don’t check for mail from the post office 20 times a day and you don’t have to check your email more than once or twice either.

  1. Have designated storage spots in high-traffic rooms of your home.

If you keep your phone in your pocket or sit it beside you, you are going to be more likely to pick it up. Out of sight, out of mind, so have a place picked out in each room to place it while you’re cooking or helping your kids’ with homework.

If you are in the kitchen, put it on the counter by your keys. You can still keep it in the same room in case you need it, but make accessing it just a little more inconvenient than normal.

  1. Make Screen Swaps.

I learned from a movie called Screenagers that the reason we check Facebook every few minutes is because we are craving a boost in serotonin via new notifications-comments from friends and personal messages.

So cutting down on phone checks is just half the battle. We also have to replace them with a separate activity that provides the same serotonin boost.

img_0459In Reset Your Child’s Brain, Victoria Dunckley suggests a tip that can benefit adults as much as kid-stocking up on kinesthetic, tangible things-board games, comic books, magazines-and having these on hand throughout the house. Pick these items up instead of your phone and you still get that jump in happy juice.

  1. Use wallpapers, backgrounds, and screensavers as redirections back to your family.

My wife recently gave me an Apple Watch for my birthday. I love it of course, but I was checking ESPN a lot, receiving text messages, and scrolling through emails, even at the dinner table.

I realized it was getting out of hand and decided to delete all the apps from my watch, except for one-the Photo app.

I made an album with 100 photos on my phone of my all-time favorite family pics (at the beach, graduations, basketball games, and on our wedding day) and linked the album to my watch-making it the Watch Face.img_0458

That’s the only purpose now for the device. Every time I bring my wrist up, a picture from the family album pops up. It makes me smile and redirects my attention back to the people around me, the most important part of my life.

No messages. No emails. No distractions. Just fam.

Sometimes I also check the time, but that’s it.

img_0457I read a book by Richard Freed, called Wired Child, where he shared a prophetic quote from John F. Kennedy about technology. He said technology has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man.” (and woman)

By strategizing and limiting your phone use, you are using it to your advantage rather than giving it power over your personal life.

For more tips on tech use and work/life balance, my 1st book, The Balanced Teacher Path, is available for pre-order now! Support me by ordering it from the publisher, Free Spirit. Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target.