Technology: Are you Addicted?

Technology addiction is surprisingly real.

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By: Ufuk Yagci

The Draw: Our Love for Technology

With the evolution of Internet and advances in technology, communication has become very easy and fast. A survey conducted in Great Britain in 2014 demonstrates the positive impact of technology on relationships. With the use of Internet and mobile devices, families and friends can stay in contact much easier than the past. Moreover, technology has made a significant impact on people’s lives with the ease of accessibility of information.

The Threat: Technology Addiction!

Unfortunately, the treats that technology offers us have some drawbacks.  Some people spend too much time in front of the screens and make technology the centre of their lives. Some people find themselves trapped in technology addiction.

What is an addiction? An addiction is a compulsive need, craving of your body and a chronic dysfunction of the brain system for the use of a habit-forming substance or behaviour. Someone experiencing an addiction will be unable to stay away from the addictive behaviour and will display a lack of self-control. Addictions get worse over time interfering with your daily life and leading to further complications such as withdrawals and permanent health complications.

Technology addiction consists of addictive behaviour to video gaming, online shopping, excessive use of social media, excessive texting or overuse of technological devices. Internet Addiction is the more common term that is used for technology addiction and is defined as any online-related compulsive behaviour that interferes with people’s lives and causes stress on their environment and relations. According to the International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine, one in eight Americans suffers from problematic Internet use and the rates are even higher in many Asian countries.

Is Technology Addiction a Disorder?

Internet addiction is a psychological disorder that has been recently proposed for inclusion in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. DSM-V actually includes Internet addiction as a disorder that needs further study and research. An even more significant addiction than Internet addiction is the Internet Gaming Disorder. This has been defined as a “Condition for further studying by the DSM-V”. It is not an official disorder and APA requires additional research to decide to call it an official disorder. This may be because there is not enough evidence and data to determine if Internet addiction is a separate disorder or if it has another cause. Some experts call the Internet addiction as “Impulse Control Disorder”.

While mental health professionals are not still in agreement whether this should be classified as an actual disorder, research shows that internet addiction can significantly affect the behavioural development, as well as the mental and physical health. There is no doubt that many people are displaying addiction signals when it comes to the Internet, social media, use of smartphones and digital devices.

What are the Symptoms of Technology Addiction?

In 1998, “Internet Addiction Test” (IAT) was created by Dr. Kimberly Young, who is a professor at St. Bonaventure University. The IAT measures the severity of self-reported compulsive use of Internet for adults and the term Internet refers to all types of online activity. The scale and the test have been translated into several languages including Chinese, French, Italian, Turkish, and Korean.

Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where the internet usage is relatively higher in Korea than other countries.

K-scale (Korea scale) has been developed as a checklist for diagnosing and evaluating the rate of Internet addiction in South Korea. It was created by South Korean psychologists to measure the number of Internet usage under the age of 18. The government provides health assessments and assistance to those with high K-scale scores.

Common Signals of Technology Addiction?

  • Do you have this unbearable desire to get your hands on to your mobile device to check you’re the emails or your social media account the first thing in the morning or last thing at night?
  • Do you spend more time with technology than pursuing other activities in your life?
  • Do you panic when your mobile device is getting low on power?
  • Do you get nervous if there is no Wi-Fi or connection signal on your mobile device or phone?
  • Do you go out and meet with your friends and find yourself spending time on your mobile device?
  • Do you find it difficult to unplug? Regardless of the consequences, do you tell yourself and others that your use is a “lifestyle” choice?

If you have responded the majority of the above questions affirmatively, then the danger bells may be ringing.

What Can you do to Prevent Technology Addiction?

The way technology addiction is diagnosed can differ from country to country, but statistics show that more people are suffering from Internet addiction. Here are some tips for preventing technology addiction:

Create technology free zones and times at home

Ban technology at meal times. This is an excellent opportunity for you and your family to share and communicate. Make a rule to leave all technology out of the dinner table. Turn the television off, as background television will also distract this communication.

Choose outdoor activities over technology on the weekends

Make it a rule that you cannot be online if you have not done an outdoor activity. Go for a walk, ride a bike or engage yourself and your family in any kind of healthy physical activity over the weekends. Do not forget to make this a technology free activity and leave your phones at home or shut them down and put them away from your reach.

Rearrange the family room furniture

If you have a common computer at home, place it in a communal area so that you can be around when your young children are using the Internet. Design your family room so that the television and computer are not in the area of focus.

Limit social media use

Limit your use of social media in your daily routines. Do not leave notifications on for your social media accounts. Try to put time limits on your own use of social media and log off when you are done.

Make a list of technology-free activities

Create technology free times and activities for you and your family. It is amazing how much quality time you can have without the technology. Prepare a list of activities with the family members for yourself and your family. Then try to do one each evening.

Stop always being available 24/7

Technology lets people work and be accessible no matter the place or time. Make an agreement with your co-workers on digital reachability outside of work.

Do not check your emails when you are on a vacation. In 2014, the German vehicle-maker Daimler has decided to respond with a message to all the emails that come during the vacation of the employee telling that the email would be deleted and should be resent after the vacation break (BBC News, 2014). Volkswagen followed Daimler by turning email off after office hours. New guidelines in France are ordering workers in some sectors to ignore work emails when they go home. So increasingly, companies are changing their strategies on after office hours. Bring this principle into your life and take a break!

Skip the morning digital check-in

Do not check your social media accounts or email in the morning as you wake up and over breakfast. Do some light stretching activities and mediation if possible? Your emails can wait until you get to work. Your social media accounts can wait until the time you have set for social media use.

Make a contract with your family members on technology use at home

Every family has different needs and beliefs. Therefore, it is important that you set up your guidelines and rules for technology use at home. Limit screen time for your children at home. Lead by example and make sure that every family member follows the contract terms.

Stop web searching for everything

Use your creativity and stop searching for do-it-yourself videos on YouTube. Stop searching for everything and trust your creativity and instincts. You will be amazed on how creative you might get in your projects.

Additional Reading

Internet Addiction- Symptoms, Signs, Treatment and FAQS

The American Academy of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines on Kids & Screen Time

Internet Addiction Changes Brain Similar to Heroin

Internet addiction may indicate other mental health problems in college-aged students

Should DSM-V Designate “Internet Addiction” a Mental Disorder?

References

Aboujaoude E., Koran L.M., Gamel N., Large M.D., Serpe R.T., (2006). Potential markers for problematic Internet use: A telephone survey of 2,513 adults. Retrieved from

American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5).

BBC News. (2014). Should holiday email be deleted?

Concordina University. (2016). Navigating the unknown: Conditions for further study from DSM-V.

Commonsense Media. ( 2015). Common sense census: Media use by tweens and teens.

Healthline. (2016). What is an addiction?

Net Addiction. (2013). Internet addiction test (IAT).

Net Addiction. (2013).What is internet addiction disorder?

OECD. (2017). OECD broadband statistics update. Mobile broadband penetration at 95% in OECD area. Retrieved from

Przbylski A.K., Weinstein N., Murayama K. (2017). Internet gaming disorder: Investigating the clinical relevance of a new phenomenon.

Statista. (2014). Thinking about effects of technology on relationships with friends and family

Techaddiction. (2017). Internet addiction statistics.

Techtarget. (2011). K-scale for Internet addiction (Korea scale for Internet addiction).

Thinglink – Bring Interactive Media to your Classroom

Quick and easy-to-use tool in creating interactive media on your visuals. Very useful for students and teachers.

By Ufuk Yağcı

Overview

Thinglink provides teachers and students with a powerful and flexible tool for creating and sharing interactive images on the web. An interactive image is an image that has tags with additional photos, videos, audio, text or web links attached to it. When the viewers click on the tags, the linked objects start playing which makes the image interactive. Users can upload and add any photo, video and audio, web link, poll, text and even 360´ degree photo at one click on an image enabling a virtual reality environment.

Getting Started

Thinglink is easy and quick. You can annotate pictures adding interactive videos at the touch of a click. Here is an overview  of using Thinglink in your teaching and learning environment.

Teaching Ideas

These are ideas for educators. We can create multimedia content on images but how can we use that in the classroom? How will Thinglink effect the learning that takes place in the classroom?

Idea 1 – Multimedia Content Builder for Science & Math Classes (General)

Thinglink allows teachers and students to create enriching multimedia content on a visual. This is very useful in explaining and providing details in science and math classes. An image of the human body can be annotated and labeled with text, additional visuals, audio, videos and links to any website making it an interactive image. Teachers and students can create their own explanations and share their knowledge on images with this tool. Here is a student sample of a plant cell where the student creates multimedia content demonstrating and sharing his learning.

Idea 2 – Collaborative Formative Tool (General)

Thinglink provides a collaborative environment for students by allowing them to upload and link content on a digital image. This is a great opportunity for a formative assessment or studying for a test. The instructor can post different images on the class website and ask the students to annotate and tag the images with their own explanations. Students can work in teams and assess each other’s work.

Idea 3 – Dig Deep in Vocabulary (General & ESL)

Vocabulary learning is effective when it entails active engagement that goes beyond definitional knowledge. Take an image of the vocabulary and add visuals, audio, text, videos and links that will go beyond a definition and show logical relationships with other words, helping students understand how the word functions in different contexts.

Idea 4 – Language Learning (General)

Put a poem or text in the foreign language. Ask students to record themselves reading each sentence using free recording software such as Audacity. Ask them to create separate recordings for each sentence. Ask the students to upload the audio files to a free service such as Soundcloud using a free account. Have them add tags for each sentence and add their audio files. Instructors can provide feedback in a similar way by first listening to the audio, adding feedback, and tagging each sentence.. Here is a sample project.

Idea 5 – Listen and Learn (General)

Thinglink allows audio to be uploaded on the images. This is very useful for music and language classes. Listen to music of composers and read biographical information. Similarly, listen to poets, authors, instruments, and student’s vocal performances. Here is an example of a Thinglink on composers.

Helpful Resources

Costs and Alternatives

Free Version

You can use Thinglink for free. Make sure that you use an EDU account. Thinglink calculates the number of views for all embedded media and there is a restriction of 10K views per month for the free version. This number is reset on the first of each month

Paid Version

There are two options for the EDU paid version.

Pro Teacher has the image editor and full-screen image editor. You can create, publish and share engaging, interactive images with customization features. You can also upload audio files with this version. There are pre-loaded and custom icons. You can have a maximum of 5 classes and 150 students with this version. The price is $35/year.

Premium Teacher has three editors, image, video, and 360´degree photo editor. There are also preloaded and custom icons as well as ready-made virtual reality lessons. You can have a maximum of 10 classes with 350 students. There is also a 14-day trial period. The price is $120/year.

I have also used Skitch for annotating images but Skitch does not make it interactive as Thinglink does.


Author:

Ufuk Yağcı is an educational technology coordinator at MEF International Schools that is an international K12 school based in Istanbul, Turkey. She works and collaborates with teachers and students to integrate technology in the teaching and learning environment of her school. She is also teaching ICT for upper primary grades.

email: uyagci@gmail.com  Twitter:  @uyagci

A Roadblock to Technology Use in Education

Technology Infrastructure: The Ultimate Barrier In Technology Integration

By: Ufuk Yagci

Today, the use of technology in education is entirely dependent on a reliable technology infrastructure at schools. With the integration of mobile devices, the demands and needs for technology infrastructure have also changed. Without adequate infrastructure, there will not be an effective use of technology at schools. Education decision makers need to understand the role of infrastructure in the use of technology in their teaching and learning environment.

Increase in  Mobile Devices and BYOD Programs

North American homes currently have an average of seven active connected devices.  With the increase in the use of mobile devices, many schools are seeking ways to implement 1:1 computing programs, where each student is assigned a mobile device for learning. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs are a cost effective solution for implementing 1:1 computing at schools.

Need for Increased Bandwidth

Implementation of BYOD programs requires additional bandwidth.  Some schools don’t realize the need for the additional bandwidth. Some schools have limited budgets and they struggle to upgrade and get affordable access to high-speed Internet. Jon Bergmann indicates that throughout the implementation of mobile learning, YouTube took 50 percent of his bandwidth at his school and he had to increase his Internet bandwidth by 10 times. Some schools restrict Internet access which defeats the whole purpose of the BYOD program.  Therefore, the first step into implementing a 1:1 computing model should be increasing the bandwidth.

Need for Network Infrastructure Upgrades & Additional Resources

1. Access Points & Switches

Increasing the bandwidth does not guarantee connectivity of mobile devices in your school environment. It is also important to plan and configure the number of access points that the mobile devices will be connected. The more mobile devices that you have, the more access points you will need at your schools. Certain devices have limitations to the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously. You must think of your access points as a funnel into your pipeline. Even if you have a large pipeline (your internet bandwidth), you will not have a good connection if your funnel is too small. You need to have the adequate number of access points. You will also need additional switches to connect your access points.

2. Wiring

Having a wireless network is great, but you also need the wiring from your switches to the access points in your schools. This requires extra investment and work for wiring on your network.

3. Interoperability & Cloud Based Solutions

Another overlooked aspect of infrastructure is the “interoperability” which refers to the ability to share and transfer information between different applications and software programs. The different software platforms can make accessibility difficult for some devices. Therefore, schools need to host their data on platforms that can be accessed by all the different devices. Many schools are moving away from on-premise applications and are switching to cloud-based solutions for interoperability but this also requires increased bandwidth.

Need for Support and Training

Schools need additional resources for supporting the community of teachers and students in the integration of technology. Technical support and educational technology coaches are needed for supporting the users with the infrastructure.

Create a Strategic Technology Plan

There are costs and time associated with the updates on technology infrastructure. Infrastructure issues come in a variety of forms and there will always be a need for updates in technology infrastructure as the technology advances.

The common challenge with infrastructure is not only updates and investments but it is the lack of strategic planning and reactionary implementation. Technology experts and leadership teams need to create  a strategic technology plan that will allow them to see the whole picture with requirements for additional technology upgrades. This plan should be reviewed and updated at the end of each academic year. The strategy plan should cover the implementation of all technology projects along with all maintenance, operations, and training requirments.  A thorough review of all technology projects will bring out the need for updates on the technology infrastructure.

Conclusion

In order to prevent technology infrastructure issues, leadership teams in schools need to create  a long term and short term strategic technology plan together with their teams.Without a plan, schools will not be able to streamline the needs and updates for their technology infrastructure. Without a plan, schools will not see the whole picture and technology infrastructure needs for integrating different applications and tools.The strategic technology plan will cover all  technology related upgrades.  Every additional project will have an impact on the technology infrastructure. Every additional user will have an impact on the capacity of the technology infrastructure. This is why the infrastructure needs should be reviewed and planned accordingly. With proper planning and implementation steps, technology infrastructure will no longer be a barrier in education.

Further Reading

Technology in education: An Overview

Tablets in education: Is Your Network Ready?

References

Cantech Letter. (2016). Households Now Use Average Seven Connected Devices Report. Retrieved from http://www.cantechletter.com/2016/08/households-now-use-average-seven-connected-devices-every-day-report/

John Bergmann. (2017). How to avoid the 17 deadly sins of flipped learning technology selection. Infrastructure. Retrieved from http://flglobal.thinkific.com/courses/take/TechCourse/lessons/751695-9-infrastructure

Edtech. (2006).Technology Infrastructure. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2006/10/technology-infrastructure

George D.S. (2014). The Washington Post Education. Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/CxwjrH

Sandvine. (2016). Sandvine report: North American homes average seven active connected devices. Retrieved from https://www.sandvine.com/pr/2016/8/24/sandvine-report-north-american-homes-average-seven-active-connected-devices.html

The New Digital Dilemma: Fact or Fiction?

5 Essential Tips for Evaluating Websites

by: Ufuk Yağcı

According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web today. With current tools, almost anyone can create a website. Website owners can write, print or publish anything they would like without worrying about the consequences. With the massive information that we are interacting with each day, it is a daunting task to determine what is credible. Here are five quick tips for evaluating websites.

1. Check the Web Address

The first thing you should do is look at the web address for determining credibility. Each web address has a three letter suffix. The suffix “com”, for example, represents commercial companies and does not guarantee the reliability of the website. The following suffixes are more reliable web addresses.

gov or mil Governments and military.
org Primarily used by non-profit groups.
edu or ac Accredited higher education schools.
sch or k12 Accredited K-12 schools.


Is this a personal page?

Even if the web address has one the suffixes listed above, you should also check if it is a personal page. You can check for the personal sites by looking at a personal name (e.g., jwarner or warner) following a tilde (~),  percent sign (%) or the words “users”, “members” or “people”. Personal pages are not necessarily bad, but there is a need to investigate the author carefully.

Is it published by an entity that makes sense?

If it is not a web address with the above reliable suffixes, please check if you have heard of this entity before. For example “www.nytimes.com” is a recognizable news site.

2. Check the Authors

Find out, who the author is. You can find information on the author by looking for information under “About us” or “Philosophy” or “Background” or “Biography”. Try to answer the following questions:

  • Who wrote the pages?
  • What are the author’s credentials on the subject?
  • What else has the author written?
  • Does the author represent a certain political, cultural or social group, organization?

3. Check the Dates

It is important that the information that you are accessing is up-to-date. Please analyze the website and try to answer the following questions:

  • Look for the date “last updated”. This information is usually at the bottom of the web page.
  • If this is a publication, check when it was first published. This information is uually at the top of the page.

If you cannot find the date of a website, do a right click and click on ‘inspect’ or find ‘properties’ to check the date.

4. Check the Purpose and Accuracy

Knowing the motive behind the website’s creation can help you judge on the reliability of the content and whether the information provided has been altered or manipulated in some way to change the meaning.  You can check the “about” link or look at the disclaimers to find information about the purpose of the website.

Ask the following questions:

Why was the page put on the web? Try to understand the agenda and analyze the website taking into consideration the following questions:

Was the page put to inform or give facts? Is it an educational resource? Was the information put to explain, to persuade something? Is there an economic value to this site, are they trying to sell something? Does this website fill any other personal, professional or social needs?

For example, if the purpose of the website is to persuade, then you should examine the material very closely before accepting it for a fact.

Can this be ironic? Satire or parody? Think about the “tone” of the page. Is it humorous or is it a parody? Is it exaggerated? Are there outrageous photographs or unlikely images? snopes.comis a website that collects urban legends and Internet rumors. You can best use this site as a reference for validating photos.

Is the information fact or opinion? Did they cite their sources? Check some of the references.

Crosscheck information with at least two other sites. Can you find the similar information in other reliable sources?

Are there any reviews about this publication or website? Other evaluations can help you determine the credibility of the information.

What is the intended audience? Who is the website address for?

5. Check Relevance & Context

Even if the information on the website is trustworthy, you still need to check if it is relevant to your needs. Try to understand the relevance by asking the following questions:

How is the information relevant to your research? The website may be cool, but is the content appropriate for your research needs?

Are the time period and geographic region relevant to your research?

The readability of the website plays an important role for context. If your content is too small or pale and it is not possible to read them well, then there’s no way for your message to get across.

Here are some questions to run your website content through to evaluate its quality:

Check general format and outlook

  • Are the fonts readable?
  • Are there spelling errors? Spelling and grammar mistakes probably mean that the web page is not trustworthy.
  • Are there photos that are big or out of proportion?
  • Does the website look professional?

Check consistency

  • Do all the links work?
  • If there are links to other pages as sources, are they reliable sources?
  • Are the links well chosen, well organized?
  • Do links represent other viewpoints?
  • Is this site good for some things and not good for other?

Conclusion

If you still have some doubts, trust your instincts and make further inquiries. If something does not look right, it probably is not. If you are still having second thoughts on the validity of the website, please go back and revisit the questions listed above.


Additional Reading

Purdue Online Writing Lab: Evaluating Sources: Overview

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: Critical Evaluation of Information


References

Branham, C. (1997, March 27). Evaluating web pages for relevance. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/ENG/cai/research/page01.html

Harvard guide to using sources. (2017). Evaluating Resources. Retrieved from http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page346375

Quackit. (2017). Country domain extensions. Retrieved from http://www.quackit.com/domain-names/country_domain_extensions.cfm

Quackit. (2017). Domain name extension definitions. Retrieved from http://www.quackit.com/domain-names/domain_name_extension_definitions.cfm

SEQ Legal. (2017).Website Disclaimer. Retrieved from http://www.seqlegal.com/free-legal-documents/website-disclaimer