Does technology make us feel alone? Does it inhibit us from being our true selves?
Since the development of the Internet, smartphones, social networking sites and texting, many have debated whether these tools for connection actually connect people or rather separate them. Many sociologists, psychologists, and even neurobiologists agree that technology decreases intimacy, inhibits genuine connection, and even causes social anxiety and stress.
Social psychologist Dr. Sherry Turkle, author of the book “Alone Together”, reveals another danger of social networks and overused technology — hiding.
“When teens tell me that they’d rather text than talk, they are expressing another aspect of the new psychological affordances of the new technology — the possibility of our hiding from each other," says Turkle. "They say a phone call reveals too much, that actual conversations don’t give them enough control over what they want to say.”
Texting, emailing, only communicating via social media though never connecting in person — these are ways that individuals, especially young people, hide from in-person human interaction. Interactions via technology also enable individuals to perform a character, to create and project a version of themselves that is not entirely true.
“Living on social networks means performing one’s profile, and indeed multiple profiles, almost all the time,” says Turkle.
Just as with all other tools, we must learn to use technology as an expression of our true lives, as opposed to letting it use us. At CMASAS, we recognize the power and beautiful benefits of technology. We also recognize its dangers and downfalls. We do not want to enable our students to hide or deprive them of opportunities to connect.
Here are just a few ways that the instructors and Personalized Education Coaches at CMASAS strive to break through the “online persona” of students, to instead connect with them as individuals.
Homeroom & Clubs
Though not required, many online school students choose to participate in a homeroom or online club, which we highly encourage and absolutely love! Personalized Education Coaches organize and lead homeroom discussion/hang out times which are usually conducted in a group web call through something like Skype. It’s a fun way for students to connect with other online school students and make friends all around the world. Our students and instructors also host several different clubs that all students are welcome to participate in. Current clubs at CMASAS are:
College Bound Club
Social Circle Club
Skying or phone calls vs. email
Though students certainly have the option of communicating with their instructors via email, most teachers encourage communication over the phone or via Skype. Hearing a person’s voice and seeing their face makes interactions that much more personal, intimate, and rewarding. We find that when instructors and students talk about course material that learning becomes more engaging, concepts are grasped and mastered faster, and both the student and the teacher end up having a more fun and meaningful educational experience.
Regional gatherings and meet ups
While students primarily interact online with CMASAS staff and other students, we have had numerous requests for social gatherings for families enrolled in CMASAS in their local city or town. These gatherings, hosted several times a year in different locations, are usually held outside and involve an active adventure where students can escape their online personas and interact with others on a personal, social level.
Ample time for out-of-school activities
>Though some may argue that online school students don’t have opportunities for socialization, we believe the exact opposite. Because course work can be performed quickly and on the student’s own schedule, they have ample time to explore their passions, interact with others outside of school, and participate in many activities within their communities. Though their courses is online and they receive their education through technology, online school students are able to create an “unplugged” lifestyle, escaping technology and embracing all that the world has to offer them.