Note: This post was the initial post on a blog I had from 2009-2011 entitled “Tech Life Balance.”
One of the most frequent questions that parents ask me is how to tell if their girls are spending too much time online or how to curtail the amount of time they spend online with Facebook, IM and similar applications. I have a series of tools and tips for these parents to use in collaboration with their daughters to keep the virtual from getting in the way of family time or academic work. This post doesn’t include those tips, but I will endeavor to post them in the future. Additionally, I know that the division between virtual and real, and between home/school/work is getting narrower if it even exists at all. I know that students can use IM to collaborate on assignments. None of that is the point.
I am very connected and all of my devices are multi-purpose. My husband has six computers: Work tablet, work desktop for photo/video editing, home laptop, netbook (for controlling his flash systems), audio processing rack-mount “desktop” and a cute shuttle for his extensive music collection. Oh, and his iPhone. I (the head of technology department) have my Lenovo X61 tablet and an iPhone. Clean and simple, yes, but it also means that I am connected at all times. I check my email after my second sip of coffee and don’t turn it off until I go to bed. Unobsessed with Facebook, I check it only twice a day and can usually spend a maximum of ten minutes logged in. In the morning I read local news online, BBC, and Slate. I actually have to make a point to check Twitter, which I should do more often. It doesn’t sound like I’m lacking for tech life balance does it?
But I am. Technology is my job. Technology is my leisure. I carry my iPhone at all times because I am on call. Most of my email requires a response and many messages each day are requests for assistance. So, my students have Facebook and I have email.
So, one aspect of tech life balance is about unplugging. While recovering from a recent surgery, I was off-line for nearly seven days. I hadn’t been unplugged for that long in ten years and may not be again for another ten, but it helped me realize that I could unplug to rest and restore. If I can do that, I can unplug to go to a movie, to the gym, to cook dinner, or to paint.
Another aspect is about the role of technology in our lives. My life, yes, but also my students lives. In my classroom and in other classrooms. Is it just as good to watch a Chemistry experiment online as it is to do it in real life? Can I help my students learn with virtual tools as effectively as when I am there beside them in a tutoring session? What will make a girl decide to take programming instead of other elective? How can I use technology to implement systems that make things more efficient and easier?
Thus, tech life balance is the name of this blog. In one sense, it is tech/life balance and in another it is techlife balance. Enjoy.