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The Day After…The Election: How To Talk Politics or Not With Friends, Family And Coworkers

Pattie8Stephen - 1So this last contentious presidential election is finally over with. It is either the best or worst day for America. Some will gloat over the win, others exhibit anger for the loss, or maybe we just keep our mouth shut so as not to engage in conflict? So how do you talk to your friends, co-workers, and family about politics and not get burned in the process? Learn how two conflict resolution experts, Pattie Porter and Stephen Kotev, help others say what they really mean and hear what really matters from those they don’t agree with.

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Back to School and Back to the Rules: Setting Boundaries with Technology

cc0publicdomainstudentsonphonesThe months of August and September bring many changes to the lives of students. As summer winds down and a schedule is back in order, students of all ages are challenged with the task to set boundaries for themselves, especially with technology. While young children have to have boundaries set forth by them for parents, those in middle school, high school, and college students, also have troubles battling with the distractions of computers, phones, I-pods, and other technical devices. This can become a serious issue as many students, including myself, begin to feel a constant need to look at their devices, due to the compelling desire to stay plugged in with the rest of the world. Sometimes this world can be a place of learning and outlet, and other times, it can be a real addiction, that again, causes serious issues. As Andrew Hough from the Telegraph reports in his online article: Student ‘addiction’ to technology ‘similar to drug cravings’, study finds, there are many symptoms of this addiction that are truly evident in students’ lives. As he again notes in his article, a study of 1,000 students from several countries, such as America, Britain, and China, showed that many students experienced cravings like that of a drug addict while abandoning technology for just one day. He refers to a secondary article to discuss the actual results of the mentioned study, entitled: Facebook Generation Suffers Information Withdrawal Symptoms, in which science correspondent Richard Gray discusses the exact work of the researchers in this endeavor. Richard Gray refers to the work of Dr. Roman Gerondimos, a communication lecturer from the UK, who saw both psychological and physical symptoms in his UK participants during an experiment. The experiment was called “Unplugged”, and was conducted by University of Maryland’s International Centre for Media and the Public Agenda, and the results can be found here.  The article again discusses that Dr. Gerondimos believes that this addiction, faced by individuals, is real and pervasive and must be both acknowledged and addressed for the future.

I personally have been prone to addiction with technology, which is why I want to address the importance of setting boundaries for oneself, one’s children and for students in general, since this addiction to technology can really get in the way of your studies. It can definitely impact both the quality of education and life for students. More recently, I have tried to go without constantly checking my phone, email, and social media, and I start getting really antsy and nervous. This is not how I want to live my life forever, so I have been doing some self-reflection on what can be done in order to better my life. So, I would like to offer some tips to students, parents, and teachers in order to curb the addiction to technology and set real boundaries to address this phenomenon:

  • Set a real and strategic time limit for young children using technology when they are first exposed. In this strategy, it sets them up for a routine and teaches discipline in their technology usage. Explain why it is important for them to have a time limit, also, so that they can reason why they have to stop at a specific time.
  • Define your technology expectations with pre-teen and teenage students in a very clear and succinct manner. It’s important to help them understand thoroughly what you want them to do or not do on a regular basis. Some teenagers may be more autonomous with their technology usage than the younger kids and so this may involve more in-depth explanations of what is expected and the possible consequences if they don’t respect the needs.
  • Keep a journal of the time you spend using technology, such as your phone, internet, TV, Apps, games, etc. If you are a college or a university student, maintaining boundaries is generally important to give space for other leisure-related, work-related, and school-related activities. With the journal, you can re-evaluate how much time is wasted online, and decide where you can cut back and what you would gain if you had that extra time to spend on friends, family or school activities.

Again, I know how hard it is to break away from the tech world and our addiction to it. However, it becomes necessary to preserve our sense of who we are and to guard our precious time. It is my hope that these tips have helped readers to ponder the importance of setting technology boundaries.

Enjoy your additional time now!

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management M.S. Program

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