Which side of the fence are you on when it comes to screens in the lives of your children?
We all have stories to tell. So as I regularly pose this question to my friends and colleagues I like to stay armed with evidence, and more importantly, other parents’ findings. You may want to read the story by Anya Kaemnetz on NPR this month. she quotes may different people. From a sleep researcher parent, to a pediatrician, to an obesity doctor.
- The obesity doctor has this ‘rule’ in the home: The 5- 2- 1- 0 formula. It’s basically 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. No more than 2 hours of screens. 1 hour of physical activity, 0 sugary beverages.
- The sleep researcher doesn’t allow screens to be used before bed time as t impacts sleep quality and of course sleep time.
Meanwhile the cell phone ban in schools has many advocates, including in France. Would it kill the Ed-Tech supporters? And the one-on-one movement?
What’s your take?
Odd question. Perhaps a few years too late, but…
Would you want your children to be in a school that’s all digital? Let me paint a few scenarios.
- Should teachers stop using handouts and publish lessons to be read, watched or listed to on digital devices?
- Should schools have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy?
There is no shortage of wonderful, free technologies that stimulate collaboration, and empathy. I have even used some of them in my classes! However, I also know that young people are perfectly capable of learning, creativity, discourse and group work without the help of a shiny object. We hear that ‘Digital Natives’ are wired for learning differently. But are they?
And then there’s the brain development side.
- There are also the unintended consequences of too much screen time, warns Dr. Aric Sigman. He warns of “permanent damage to (children’s) still-developing brains”. Dr. Sigman is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Read this piece published in April this year by Psychology Today. This Is What Screen Time Really Does to Kids’ Brains.
A new book about digital natives, Screenwise, calls for more mentoring not monitoring. But we tend to assume too much about digital natives. I like the point made by Jessica Laura (in a blog post at CommonSense.Org) that calls for ongoing, explicit training of digital literacy – and not just ‘screens.’ She says:
People say, “The child’s a digital native,” but that has nothing to do with whether or not they know how to use technology well; that just means they’ve grown up with it. Just because I grew up speaking English doesn’t know I mean everything about English; we still go to English class for 13 years of our lives.
Digital Citizenship and digital literacy is a fast-updating field. What people in their forties and fifties ‘know’ about digital is probably ancient wisdom. It may not happen in the next school year, but here’s a question for parents and teachers: What would you do if your school goes digital?
My wife runs a school that will probably never go digital. For good reason – it is a Montessori school, a place where, happily, you can’t replace such tools as sandpaper letters, sound boxes and pink towers. But before we know it, toddlers may be needing to know a thing or too about what it means to be a digital citizen – when they get home to their parents’ smart devices!
For more than a year, I have been making a transition from corporate communications to education. I have been given an opportunity to be a computer teacher at an elementary school in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It’s an amazing time to be joining a profession that’s getting lots of attention. And scrutiny. From the recent schoolteachers’ walkout in Chicago, to the just out Nations Report Card, among others, the story is not exactly cheerful.
Meanwhile, as knowledge acquisition is moving an 120 miles-per-hour, pedagogy is ambling along. I can see this through the lens of our two children, as new engagement tools emerge, and curricula change. Analog classrooms are trying to adapt to digital natives. Britannica now has an app for the iPad and other tablets. Classrooms are being ‘flipped.’ We can’t continue to do the same old, same old.
If there’s a simple lesson plan for my career, it’s this: push students to the edges. Focusing on ‘core’ areas, but also widen the aperture. Knowledge of ‘computers’ without context of where they are used, is meaningless. Often it’s the topical things we introduce in class that make planned (not canned) lessons relevant. One study last year found that students who did “science-related activities that are not for schoolwork” performed higher.
TO KICK OFF, I re-positioned the computer class as a Technology and Computer Lab, in which students will engage in subjects from space exploration to search engines.
Being the school’s robotics coach helps. This is a program established by the FIRST Lego League. Students can step out of their comfort zone and take risks, even while engaging their math and design skills.
Each day, the lens zooms in and widens…