We have devoted countless words in this magazine to the value of devel- oping a professional learning network through powerful tools such as
Twitter, Ning, and Facebook. We
at ISTE proudly promote the use of
technology to stay connected with
each other and to reach out to
a global community. But truth
be told, even some of us here at
L&L magazine get a bad case of
online overload at times.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social networking and have discovered
so many new sites, new approaches, and
new ideas from my PLN. But there are times
when the sound of my children’s voices shames
me into switching off the home laptop at night.
In “Finding Balance,” Beth Still’s guest post for Wesley Fryer’s blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity (www.
she writes about balancing time spent online with time
spent among family and friends:
I have developed an amazing PLN that I love interacting with, but each minute I spend with them is a
minute that I could (and should) be spending with my
family. My family does not quite fully comprehend
that I learn so much on Twitter. The other thing that
they do not understand is that some of the friendships
I have made on Twitter are very meaningful.
Last week I walked away for a few hours. I actually
powered down my laptop and cell phone and I snuggled up with my husband in our favorite oversized
chair to watch a movie. When I had trouble remembering the last time we did that, I realized that I have
been plugged in for way too long! It finally occurred
to me that I need to find some balance. While I love
working and I am not in danger of burning out, I am
missing out on some very important things in my life.
I am just not sure how an online teacher can spend less
time online, but I will figure it out.
The post touched a nerve. Here are a few of the comments:
I’ve found myself “twittering” away my summer off as
a teacher. Although I’ve dreamed of Twitter and URLs
(a clear sign I spent too much
time on it that day), I have had
such valuable insights and refer-
ences to great information that I
can’t give it up! My chiroprac-
tor is making lots of money off
my tech addiction.
I started to read this post today at
lunch and then had to stop since it
seemed inappropriate, with F2F
family time right in front of me.
Mobile access on our vacation
has been nice but boundaries
are oh, so important. Thoughts
along these lines continue to in-
spire me to write a book titled
“Digital Discipline!” It is something we all need to
work at, and our kids do too!
For the record, I took a screen-free week this summer at a family reunion, and they were all pleasantly
surprised that I didn’t bring the laptop or hang on the
smartphone. That was telling, given that none of them
live with me, yet they know how much time I spend
connected. I saw in that moment how dishonored they
feel when I interact more with the gadgets than with
the people I love.
Mary Beth Shertz, who writes the blog Philly Teacher,
also talked about balance in her post “The Importance
of Silence” ( http://philly-teacher.blogspot.com/2009/08/
She writes about getting lost on the way to her yoga class
five blocks from home because her mind was filled with so
For the next hour, I breathed in and out, stretched out
my limbs, calmed my mind and listened to the lone
cricket at the window chirping along with the peaceful song of an oboe soloist being played on the CD
player. Should we be teaching kids, who are constantly
connected and whose brains may not get the rest they
need for proper development and learning, how to find
Diana Fingal is the senior editor for L&L. She has been writing for and editing periodicals for more than 20 years.
38 Learning & Leading with Technology | November 2009