Kids are great with technology and they love it! I also love technology and am lucky to work in a district with 1:1 devices for our students. Lately, though, I've been thinking about screen time and just how much time my students are spending on technology.
Here is what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about media and children:
Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children's attention. Information on this page can help parents understand the impact media has in our children's lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. The AAP has recommendations for parents and pediatricians.
Today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should monitor their media diet. Parents can make use of established ratings systems for shows, movies and games to avoid inappropriate content, such as violence, explicit sexual content or glorified tobacco and alcohol use.
Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children's media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.
The AAP recommends that parents establish "screen-free" zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children's bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.
Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.
So, how much time are my students spending in front of a screen? Even if their media diet was all school/educational related, could it be too much? If students were on their device for every class, and they are in school from 8:15-3:17 (minus 30 minutes for lunch and about 25 minutes for passing periods), that would be about 6 hours just in school! Then most students are asked to do some homework on their device, plus their own recreational use, plus video games played, plus any TV watching… it adds up fast!
I'm not advocating that we get rid of technology or go back to only "paper and pencil" in my classroom, but I do want teachers to be aware and make sure we are using some "screen-free" activities too. We need to help our students have a healthy media diet so that they have plenty of opportunities to not only interact with technology but to also interact with each other.