"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." -Blaise Pascal A friend of mine recently had a baby, so after congratulating her, I asked, rhetorically: "How’s everyone sleeping?" "Great," she said, "thanks to the Snoo." "The what?" "The Snoo. It's an apparatus that swaddles your baby in a blanket connected to sensors, which sends signals to the blanket to contract when the baby gets restless so she doesn't wake up. It's amazing. Everyone sleeps great." Now way back in my day - seven years ago - when a baby got restless you woke up, went into his room, picked him up, swaddled him, rocked him, slowly and methodically put him back down, crossing your fingers for a couple straight hours of sleep . Eventually, you let the kid get restless, cry a bit, then they self-soothe to go fall back to sleep. For both of my kids, those first few months were mostly exhausting, sometimes excruciating. Is it a stretch to argue that the Snoo baby… becomes the iPad toddler. becomes the Chromebook kid. becomes the iPhone adolescent. becomes the Twitter adult? A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture by Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at Mott Children’s who specializes in "how the parent-child relationship and digital media use interact to shape child social-emotional outcomes." Her findings showed that at precisely the moments when things get hard or boring or contentious at home, families turn to their devices to soothe themselves and each other. In other words, we hit the Snoo button. But just like bedtime for an infant, embracing these moments is vital for family relationships to grow. Unfortunately, this penchant for running from difficulty rather than facing it is all too common for our students, and for society at large. "This AP History reading is too difficult." Snoo Button. "I don't want to write that English essay." Snoo Button. "I don't get along with this teacher." Snoo Button. The button could be a TikTok binge or a swipe through Instagram or six episodes of Euphoria. Much like the restless baby at night, if students can't figure out how to deal with these moments of discomfort (with our help), they'll just keep turning to - and buying - stuff that will. And if we’re honest with ourselves as parents and educators, so will we. For tips on how to help our kids avoid the Snoo Button, check out Dr. Radesky’s website.
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