It is a common cry – ‘young children and teens spend too much time looking at device screens’. Often accompanying these cries is a denunciation of all time spent online or on devices and an implied negative effect overall.
While less screen time is a goal that many may strive for either for themselves or for the young people in their lives, it is important that we look at the pros and cons and create a plan for helping students to manage their ‘online time’ well. While it is possible to find research on both sides of the screen time argument, there are some clear benefits that productive screen time can provide. It is important to take a close look at both the pros and the cons so that we can help students to manage their online activities and environment well. Below are 5 recent examples of educational uses of screen time:
- Reading: Targeting specific apps to improve reading and comprehension can help students to make meaningful strides. The Rivet app has over 2000 titles available and screen time on this app has meant meaningful gains in reading skills for students.
- Writing: Many online tools help to strengthen writing skills. For example, with apps such as Storybird, students can create stories online. These stories can be shared in a social media setting and saved for sharing and editing as needed.
- Interactive Review: Interactive activities allow for hands-on learning. Many educational apps allow for review of topics learned. Teachers can give quizzes as homework view student interaction in real time. Kahoot recently released a feature where students can review answers and create their own quizzes.
- Video and Self-Directed Learning: Students often describe their online learning as being self-directed. Students are inspired to search for and learn about topics of interest uniquely to them and explore avenues of learning related to assigned classroom work making their classroom studies more meaningful and personalized to them.
Young people increasingly are using video to learn. Every topic imaginable is available with a simple search or swipe. In a study on digital learning (Speak Up 2018) conducted by Project Tomorrow, 77% of students grades 6-8 and 90% of students grades 9-12 said they use video to learn. Up to 33% said they feel that they learn more through video than by reading.
- Digital Citizenship: As young people interact online, there may be mis-steps and challenging moments – for example, if private information is shared or bullying is noted. Use these events as teachable moments for reinforcing positive Digital Citizenship. Opening the doors to discussion on online safety and responsible use creates opportunities for growth and understanding necessary in our tech-immersed lives.
Top Resource for Reviewing Apps
Reviewing Educational Apps: As of June 2018, there were over 80,000 apps listed in the educational category. While there is a wide selection of apps, this huge number can easily overwhelm anyone. Luckily, there are many resources to help educators and parents to choose apps which are educational. One such resource is Common Sense Media where app reviews are frequently posted.
Educators and parents who recognize that screen time is a potentially positive part of life today for many young people today can make a plan turn screen time use into an opportunity to encourage learning and to foster responsible digital citizenship. In fact, a growing number of parents are practicing ‘connected parenting’ as a means to tune in to their children’s digital experiences.
As educators and parents, today’s expanding technology and frequent screen time afford us many opportunities to support children’s healthy development and learning.