Slow Technology

A year ago I read a story about a university professor who offered extra credit to his students who abstained from social media for the length of a school term. His criticism of our obsession with connection struck a chord that I haven’t been able to shake. It hasn’t taken long for us to become a society that cannot bear the thought of being disconnected or unavailable.

I recently suffered an involuntary digital detox. My laptop needed repairs so I have been computer-free for over a week. Since I do not own a cell phone and we don’t have cable, it has been a truly digital-free week.

We are the first generation of parents who are creating rules around information technology – when can children go on the computer, when can they have their own, who pays the cell phone bill, do you interfere when you don’t approve of their FaceBook or MySpace pages, should you be concerned by how much time your child spends tweeting or texting? These are not questions that we can answer by reflecting on our own experience since these technologies didn’t exist when we were growing up. We are flying solo.

Just like the slow food or slow sex movements, there is also a movement around the idea of slow technology. This is a movement about putting people first rather than opting for speed or efficiency. It’s not the abandonment of information technologies, but an effort to use them sincerely and thoughtfully. This doesn’t mean pouring over your FaceBook profile for another hour in a thoughtful way. It also doesn’t mean that you should cancel you high-speed connection in favour of dial-up. Slow technology is about disconnecting on a regular basis in order to experience the non-digital world in a sincere way.

When it comes to parenting, this might mean shutting your cell phone off so that your 12-year-old can’t call you and therefore learns to fend for himself at home while you’re out. It means limiting screen-time for the kids. It means not allowing cell phones during family time.

I’ll leave you with this video. It gives you an idea of the growth in technology. What guidelines are creating in your home that can be used today and in the future for technology that is not yet available?

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Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

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