Am I checking my phone too often?

Checky-ReviewA couple of weeks ago I installed an app called Checky on both my Android tablet and my Android phone.   The reason for installing the app was to try to get a handle on how often I checked my devices during the day.   I had a sense that I was possibly checking my devices too often and that as a result I was less focused than I could be, however I was also conscious of the fact that this might be simply an incorrect perception without grounding in reality.   The only way to determine whether my sense of over checking my devices was true was to gather some quantitative data and this is where Checky comes in.    The app is simple – It just logs the number of times you access your device, reporting this daily.

The results;  Well over the last couple of weeks the combined totals from the apps across both the mobile devices I use, a phone and a tablet, suggest I access my mobile devices on average 34 times a day.    This represents checking my devices almost every 28 minutes if we assume 8 hours of sleep per day and therefore only 16 possible hours each day when I could access my device.

Taken in the context of the piece in the Independent (Barr, S. 2017) in relation to the average Brit who  accesses their devices 28 times per day, my personal access over the last couple of weeks of 34 times seems a little high.    It is certainly nothing compared to some teens who apparently check social media 100 times per day (Wallace, K, CNN, 2015).   That said, I cannot see why I should need to be accessing my devices every 28 minutes.

On reflection I must acknowledge that I have slightly different apps sets across both devices.   This may lead me to check both devices at the same time which could be doubling up my statistics.    This is something I may need to look at, either having the same apps on both devices, or having clears sets of apps on each devices, thereby avoiding the need to check each device separately throughout the day.  This may reduce the time taken when I have the urge to check my various apps, as I would only need to check a single device.   I also note that recently I have taken to exercising in the morning which involves using my phone for music as I run, making changes to my music as I go and also reviewing my distance traveled, etc, which all require me to access my phone.   Another factor is I use a tablet device in meetings and in my general work day which again would show up in my access statistics.

I have also put the data into Excel and looked at my usage by day.   It turns out my greatest usage is on a Sunday, then on a Friday and Saturday respectively.    For me this is a little concerning as shouldn’t I be focusing on enjoying the weekend as opposed to checking my devices on a Saturday or Sunday.   I quite often engage in twitter chats on both Saturday and Sunday which may account for some of the statistics.  The question is: Is this the best use of my weekend?

I think the key thing I draw from the activity of gathering some data on my access habits is one simply of conscious awareness.  All too often people are using their devices but not conscious of the frequency or time spent.   They are not conscious of the impact it may be having within their lives.   They do not see how much of their day is spent on social media consumption.    We easily succumb to social media and our mobile devices stealing away valuable time which could be better spent on other activities.    I at least had a feeling that something was wrong and have now gathered data which I can now use to decide on actions and then measure the success of any actions I may take.

Maybe this is something we should all be doing with students in our classrooms?   Ask them to install Checky for a period of time and record their device usage, followed by reviewing it after a couple of weeks as a class activity.   I am sure this would make for some very interesting discussions.

 

 

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Distracted by Mobile Devices

devicesI have noticed a self-perception over the last week or so that I have tended towards becoming distracted by my need to check my various devices for messages, tweets, updates, etc.   Now it may be that my perception of the issue is tainted.    Due to a busy workload at the moment I have taken to keeping lists of tasks to be undertaken and, as is the way, as soon as I score one task off, I add three more on.   This means that my perception of progress may be that I am not making any headway which may lead me to under appreciate what I have achieved.   This under appreciation may be making me feel that I am wasting time when I am checking my devices, thus leading to over accounting for the amount of time I am using up in this checking.

Another alternative is that in my growing frustration at my inability to reduce the list of tasks in front of me I am seeking solace in checking my updates for that brief moment of pleasure associated with a new message or new update.   In this case my perception of distraction may actually be true.

Yet another possible interpretation is that my perception is correct and I am actually suffering from distraction brought about by my mobile devices.  Maybe I am checking my devices repeatedly during the day and as a result interrupting activities that I might otherwise focus on and complete.

To help answer the question I have downloaded an app, “Checky” to my mobile devices to provide me with some quantitative data to compare with and either confirm or refute my perception.   The app basically keeps a log and reports on my daily device usage.   I will share further in a few weeks’ time once I have sufficient data to at least draw some initial conclusions.

In the meantime, do you give thought to your personal use of Tech, to how long you use it for, to the frequency you check your devices or to what you use it for?     How do you confirm or validate your perceptions?

Technology: a two sided discussion

Have recently been reading The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr and it has got me thinking about technology, how we use it and its impact.

On one side we can draw the conclusion that technology is helping us and is beneficial.   It aids us in planning, augmenting out memory.   So I can use my calendar and tasks to help me organise my days, weeks, months and years and to manage the various tasks which I have to undertake.   Technology can augment our knowledge and ability to research through the use of google to search for information on demand including when on the move or even during the pub quiz night when the quiz master isn’t looking.    It can help us improve our writing through not having to be as concerned with spelling, etc as your word processor will either point out errors or even correct them for you.    These are just a small number of ways in which technology can be beneficial.

There is however a flip side.   As we rely on the spellchecker we become less able to spell new words.   We also possibly don’t check our spelling as carefully as we might have done previously as we assume the software will have done this for us.    I can definitely vouch for this as I have read things I have posted in the past only to identify spelling and other errors which I hadn’t noticed prior to posting.   I am confident part of the reason I didn’t notice is my confidence in the software as it pointed out many errors as I wrote the post, which I then corrected, so therefore I assumed it had picked up all the errors.

Moving on and taking the issue of memory and google, google might lead to us believing what we read without checking.    This however is the subject of teaching on technology use.    It also sorts the search results based on complex algorithms to try and provide us the information which we seek.   The algorithms have popularity at their core and therefore the search items tend to represent the popular and common beliefs as opposed to more fringe and lesser known beliefs.   The days of finding an unusual book in the library leading to significant learning at a tangent to a persons initial thinking are disappearing as we never move much beyond the first couple of pages of search results.     I also wonder that in this convenience of knowledge where we have a quick search and then results, there isn’t the same questioning and evaluation of the information being returned.    Its a bit like the impact convenience food had on society.   The convenience made things easier but did it make things better?   Its also a bit like the autopilot in planes, it made the job easier for the pilot however in doing so had the undesirable impact of reducing pilot flying ability.

As to my organisational skills, I am now reliant on my outlook calendar and through it I can easily manage my days however when presented with an issue such as double booking or a high priority event arising, am I as capable in managing?

Technology is helping us in many ways by augmenting what we can do or by allowing us to focus on higher order activities by automating lower order thinking activities however at what cost?    I think a bigger concern is are we conscious of the implications and costs and what about our children who may never had to manage things pre-computers, using a library or a paper diary or a dictionary.   If students no longer know how to manage their time on paper or how to find books in a library, is this loss of experience, skill, etc. a concern or is it inconsequential?    Do we spend time and make them conscious of the other side of technology use?

Being Digitally Literate

Over the past 2 weeks I have been regularly posting my thoughts in relation to Digital Literacy over on my new blog site as www.beingdigitallyliterate.wordpress.com

So far I have posted on 6 different areas related to digital literacy:

  • Digital Literacy: Some initial thoughts on what the term means
  • Evolving Technology: How the pace of technological change impacts of digital literacy
  • Cross Platform Skills: The need to develop the ability to work across different platforms and software and to learn how to use new solutions as they arise
  • Awareness of Technology: We use technology all of the time but are more aware of some technologies we use than we are of others
  • Encryption and public safety: The internet provides a safe place for all including those who wish to do that which is evil or illegal but weaker encryption isn’t the answer
  • Where’s my data: We sign up to more and more services in doing so share more and more data with the internet

I hope to continue adding the site with regular posts, with each post posing questions to promote thinking and/or discussion.    Hopefully over time the site will build to become a useful resource.

 

Being digitally literate

Have today started a new blog site called “Being Digitally Literate” focusing on ideas around developing digital literacy in students.    My hope is to create a site which explores and asks questions as I explore and ask questions, and that by doing so it might help others to also explore ideas.

As a starting point I have decided to re-post my first entry from the site below:


What does it mean to be digitally literate?

We often speak about the importance of developing digital literacy in our students.   The issue with the intention is the lack of clarity as to what it means to be digitally literate, the areas which should be covered in developing such literacy and also the methods or approaches which should be used in this development.

I intend to post my thoughts on this matter over the coming weeks and months.   I will admit that I suspect a number of my posts will pose more questions than they answer, however my hope is that the act of posing questions will promote further thought even if this is just within myself.

To get the ball rolling I would like to just define in very general terms what I believe we are looking to achieve in developing digital literacy.    I believe the fact we are even discussing digital literacy is an acceptance that we are living in an increasingly digital world.   We are surrounded by ever increasing levels of technology in our work life, social and home lives.     As such the previous literacies, of languages and communication, including reading and writing, and of mathematics are no longer sufficient.   We need digital literacy.

Given this seeking to develop digital literacy is seeking to ensure that our students are sufficiently literate with this new technological world and with its technologies, to be successful in their lives.   To be able to understand the technologies and use the technologies appropriately and effectively.

Does the above definition cover what is meant digital literacy or is there something missing?