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Principal asks parents to trim the tech for Thanksgiving

Friedell Middle School Principal Oscar Uribe and his staff had a heartfelt Thanksgiving message for parents as students entered the extended holiday break.

Enjoy the holiday family time. Recharge your batteries. And, to the extent possible, keep kids away from social media.

"In addition to academic fatigue, students may also have social fatigue and can benefit from a 'little vacation' from their friends," the Friedell message said. "We recommend that you help facilitate that resting time by limiting the amount of time your child spends texting and using social media to interact with peers and redirecting that time toward some family enrichment."

Uribe said Friedell sees education as a partnership between home and school. Teachers and students use a lot of technology during the day. The school recently was selected as one of six schools covered by the district's expanded one-to-one iPad initiative. Even so, it's important to take a break from technology and use the holidays as a time of reflection and family.

"I have two kids. I know sometimes we're really busy and don't take enough time to sit down and relax and talk about the different things that we're doing," Uribe said.


Freidell's advice also jibes with the results of a recent study by Eventbrite on Americans' attitudes toward technology during holiday celebrations. It found the nearly universal presence of smartphones and hand-held devices fueling a "tech backlash" — 66 percent of U.S. adults thinking smartphones and iPods should be banned at Thanksgiving dinner.

Women are even more anti-tech during T-day: 71 percent of women think that phones and other devices should be banned, while 62 of men thought so.

But the biggest advocate of no-phones-at-Thanksgiving were grandmothers: 85 percent of women 65-and-older think tech should be forbidden at dinner, while 71 percent of men in that age group favored a phone-free Thanksgiving.

How do parents enforce such a decree? One suggestion from Eventbrite was that the first person to peek at their phone should have to do the dishes.

Uribe, who leads the 450-student middle school, said the classroom and the home are similar when it comes to setting expectations on the use of technology. As Friedell prepares to hand an iPad to each student, the school has been working closely with teachers to establish ground rules for how students use their mobile devices.

"We set those rules in my house, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," Uribe said.

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