Instant Gratification and Technology


Working on the decision making unit with my 6th graders right now, and as per usual, we started out with a discussion on some of the decisions they’re faced with.

The typical 6th grade answers came up… what to wear, what to eat for lunch, which after school sport to join… and then one of them mentioned the big one.


As in how to spend it. How to manage it. And how much stress it was causing them.

I spend a lot of time talking to the 7th and 8th graders about time management, but I hadn’t really spent too much time on it with these guys. I guess I hadn’t really thought about how much freedom they have over their time now, and I hadn’t really connected it to decision making. Makes a lot of sense though.

So I brought up the idea of instant gratification. The majority of them didn’t really know what I was talking about, so I pulled up this video of the Marshmallow Test.

Of course they thought it was hysterical,  I mean, who doesn’t… but what I was so impressed with is how quickly they made the connection.

So… what are some of your marshmallows then?

“Oh my gosh”, one of them said… “my marshmallow is totally Skype”. Half of them nodded emphatically.

“Like, if I eat the marshmallow, then later, when I haven’t gotten my work done, I feel so stressed. But if I can resist the temptation, and wait until I’m done with my work, it’s so much better. Like getting two marshmallows!”

Hm… so, if the little kids in this video are using all sorts of crazy tactics to put off eating their marshmallow (sitting on their hands, looking the other way, hiding under the table), what can you do?

“Take it off the dock”, “turn off the notifications”, “do my work in the living room where everyone can see me.”

Boom. Ownership.

Next time, I think we’ll be showing this video at the beginning of the semester.

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