Our View: Putting technology on the back burner

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Editorial Board, January through May 8, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Traci Day, community representative
  • Dean Vogelaar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— In a technology-driven world, it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the gadgets and gizmos that keep us connected. But a local couple is reminding Steamboat Springs parents that it’s worthwhile to take a step back, and we think the community should tune in to that message.

Kenny Reisman and Kristen Race are planning an initiative called Hang Up and Hang Out, asking parents to set aside their cell phones when their children are present for the coming week. Their project is an excellent way for parents to become more attentive to their children as well as set a positive example of appropriate cell phone use.

The seeds of the project came from a message Reisman and Race received from their daughter. Reisman, a Steamboat Springs City Council member who is involved in several businesses, often found himself on the phone in the presence of his child. Frustrated, Reisman’s daughter made him promise to stay off the phone around her for a week. Every time he slipped up, he owed her a buck.

Eight dollars and several months later, Reisman and Race are asking parents of Steamboat elementary school children to take up the same challenge. The two operate a business called Mindful Life, focusing on what they call brain-based solutions for families. The Hang Up and Hang Out initiative encourages parents to sign a pledge to stay off their cell phones in the presence of their children for a week starting Monday. The two are quick to note that they aren’t asking parents to give up cell phones entirely. They understand the usefulness of the devices, which also can help parents work outside the office and spend more time at home. They’re asking only for parents to make small changes, like putting their phones in another room during meals.

Smart phones continue to have a significant impact on how we communicate. They allow us to be connected 24 hours a day to e-mail, the Internet, text messages and phone calls. They also have the potential to cut down on face-to-face communication. Race, an expert in child, family and school psychology, pointed out in a conversation with the Steamboat Pilot & Today Editorial Board that 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. Children learn those communication skills from those around them, particularly family members.

Race and Reisman are working with local groups such as First Impressions of Routt County as well as Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools on Hang Up and Hang Out. They will send pledge cards home to parents, asking them to commit to the weeklong effort. We encourage all parents to consider participating. What the program will help teach is responsible, mindful use of technology.

Children notice when their parents are inaccessible, and they likely will pick up those habits as they grow older. When parents put down their gadgets and give their undivided attention to a child, it sends a strong message about what — and who — is important.

Hang Up and Hang Out could have broader impacts. Parents of older children and teens could participate to show that face-to-face communication is crucial in all relationships and that there are more important things than the chime of an incoming text message. Reisman and Race’s project also has implications for social media and other ever-developing communication trends.

It’s a reminder, and an important one, that technology should not replace live interaction. The couple hopes to make Hang Up and Hang Out a national initiative in coming years. We support them in those efforts and urge the community to take notice next week — let’s see what a difference it can make.

Comments

greenwash 3 years, 2 months ago

It already is a national initiative..( do a littlle research)....We should be more concerned with the internet and satelite TV and how it corrupts our childrens minds..I think its funny how many parents buy cell phones for there 10 year olds.

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James Earley, MCSE 3 years, 2 months ago

"90 percent of communication is nonverbal" - I don't believe that.

How about a week where we turn off the spell checker and use a dictionary? That way people might learn the difference between "there", "they're", and "their".

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Brent Boyer 3 years, 2 months ago

boatbug: I'm sorry, but I can't seem to find the incorrect use of there, they're and their. Where am I missing it?

Thanks, Brent

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 2 months ago

Where you are missing it is such a big topic that I am going to assume that you are not looking for an answer to that, but to the limited question of the usage of a word.

Greenwash said "cell phones for there 10 year olds."

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jerry carlton 3 years, 2 months ago

Brent, It is in Greenwash's post. "there 10 year olds" should be their 10 year olds. Greenwash, My children are in their 40's but if I had any today, the would have a cell when they bought it and paid the monthly charges.

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Carrie Requist 3 years, 2 months ago

There have always been ways to ignore your children and ways to overindulge your children. Reminding parents to tune in and do things like give your child your full attention is a fine thing. As I see it, it is really only slightly related to technology. I can as easily ignore my child with a book/magazine/newspaper as with my cell phone. And I can pretend to pay attention to my child while my mind is thinking of other things.

Being engaged with your children, family, friends is an attitude and a decision. Technology is just another way to be disengaged, but not the root of the problem.

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