And I pursued activities that could replace my phone habit.
On the recommendation of my colleague Farhad Manjoo, I signed up for pottery classes. As it turned out, pottery makes a perfect phone substitute. It gets your hands dirty, too, which is a good deterrent to fiddling with expensive electronics. After a pottery class, I updated my wife on my progress.
I told her that while it felt great to disconnect, I still worried that I was missing something important. I spent more time listening to her, and less time distractedly nodding and mumbling while checking my inbox or tapping out tweets. Studies have shown that excessive phubbing decreases relationship satisfaction and contributes to feelings of depression and alienation. I had dreaded this idea at the outset, but when the weekend actually arrived, I got giddy with excitement.
A phone-free weekend involved some complications. Without Google Maps, I got lost and had to pull over for directions.
Without Yelp, I had trouble finding open restaurants. But mostly, it was great. For two solid days, I basked in 19th-century leisure, feeling my nerves softening and my attention span stretching back out. I read books. I did the crossword puzzle. I lit a fire and looked at the stars.
I also felt twinges of anger — at myself, for missing out on this feeling of restorative boredom for so many years; at the engineers in Silicon Valley who spend their days profitably exploiting our cognitive weaknesses; at the entire phone-industrial complex that has convinced us that a six-inch glass-and-steel rectangle is the ideal conduit for worldly experiences.
Sadly, there is no way to talk about the benefits of digital disconnection without sounding like a Goop subscriber or a neo-Luddite. Performative wellness is obnoxious, as is reflexive technophobia. But I cannot stress enough that under the right conditions, spending an entire weekend without a phone in your immediate vicinity is incredible. You have to try it. Subscribe to the With Interest newsletter.
I now pick up my phone only about 20 times a day, down from more than In one of our conversations, I asked Catherine if she worried that I would relapse. But it should be a conscious choice. I keep thinking: Right here, in my pocket, is a device that can summon food, cars and millions of other consumer goods to my door.
But there is a way out. A few weeks ago, the world on my phone seemed more compelling than the offline world — more colorful, faster-moving and with a bigger scope of rewards. I still love that world, and probably always will. But now, the physical world excites me, too — the one that has room for boredom, idle hands and space for thinking. I no longer feel phantom buzzes in my pocket or have dreams about checking my Twitter replies. I look people in the eye and listen when they talk. I ride the elevator empty-handed. I quietly went in and took a seat towards the back of the classroom.
The teacher was reading a book to the children and it was towards the end of the day. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.
This was not a special needs classroom, but a typical classroom at a popular art-integrated charter school. My first thought was that the children might have been fidgeting because it was the end of the day and they were simply tired. Even though this may have been part of the problem, there was certainly another underlying reason. We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance.
In fact, we tested a few other classrooms and found that when compared to children from the early s, only one out of twelve children had normal strength and balance. Only one! Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. These children need to move! Ironically, many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular balance system today--due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time.
Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system. Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before.
With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Fidgeting is a real problem.
My Ag and Og Book (I'm Learning to Read 7). by Carla Elmore. Kindle Edition My Am and Un Book (I'm Learning to Read 6). by Carla Elmore. Kindle Edition. May 17, 6 min read I love when a book takes me to the furthest nook of my brain and expands my knowledge. I live in a state of constant evolution of mind, body and soul, where learning acts as one of the key pillars. information and providing insight about different topics I am passionate about.
It is a strong indicator that children are not getting enough movement throughout the day. We need to fix the underlying issue. Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school. Twenty minutes of movement a day is not enough! They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom. In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention.
In order to pay attention, we need to let them move. As a parent I have made the choice to have my children play more, move more. They get one hour of screen time a day and if we miss the 4 to 5 time then we miss it. I homeschool so they can bounce on exercise balls while doing math, hange from trees while I read to them and then they can reenact what I've read to them. They can run from noun to noun and they can imagine whatever it is in their minds. As they get older they sit more, they read more, they learn more.
Great post indeed, I will be sharing this with the parents in September to help them understand why we allow their children to roll down hills, climb up slopes etc. We can create change by being THE example and through education. We all can and should be a part of this. We just need to get creative, figure out the barriers and find a way around these barriers.
Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. Some simple ways to make change for parents is for you to also be the example and to educate.
By letting our children play outdoors when they get home; by educating others about new research and publications advocating children to move; and by not letting others perceptions of us get in the way of doing what is right for our children. Anyone else have some great ideas to share?
So what you say is that in the past kids were not fidgeting because they moved more?? I don't believe that. Also in our parents time most of the kids could not sit still.. Schools that recognize this have been replacing chairs with exercise balls, allowing for movement and strengthening of the core muscles because they are constantly balancing. Regular chairs are available for children that want to opt out or for those that are unable to use their ball appropriately.
I wish more schools would do this. Both Bronson Alcott Louisa May's father and my grandmother would agree whole-heartedly with your conclusions. Healthy, strong bodies need movement Congratulations on explaining it so eloquently. And we wonder why so many children are over weight. It is the same reason we are obese. Thank you for posting. What is the action that must be taken?
Allowing young children to sit on the big exercise balls instead of hard chairs allows them to wiggle to keep their balance without disrupting their learning or their classmates. Stop making them sit still in school for 8 hours, could you do it? Children learn by interacting with their world, let them do it. And teaching all things in moderation, some video games are helpful for children's brain development, all depends on how they learn. Could this be anymore true.
And kids are barely strong enough to hold themselves up in a chair for so long. As a pediatric OT for many years this is a problem I endure daily. So happy to find this article. My son was in a similar circumstance where his teacher had very little tolerance for his fidgeting. I bought him a circular hair pad that swivels. He sits and swivels from side to side during class and its had a positive impact on both his attention span and his core muscles.
I highly recommend it for other fidgeting kids during classes. I could not agree more that the fidgeting and the increase in early ADHD diagnoses is a lack of movement experiences. Great comments everyone! Marie - I'm sure there was fidgeting in the past too. To say kids in the past never fidgeted wouldn't make sense. I'm just sharing some important knowledge so that people can understand why kids fidget and why there appears to be an increase in problems with attention from a therapist's point of view.
There is a wonderful website out there that teachers can use in the classroom.