This article, appearing in THE ATLANTIC, is one of the most disturbing articles I’ve read lately. It’s not that I didn’t know (or at least suspect) most of what the author presents about the amount of time kids spend on their smart phones and social media. And it’s not like I didn’t suspect the negative effects of screen time in lieu of friend-and-family time. I see most of it in my classroom and, unfortunately, at home.
It’s that now, as we barrel towards increasing use of “social media like” curriculum in the classroom, how do we stem the tide? How do we teach appropriate use, both in the nature of social media and the amount of time spent there? It’s not just about becoming responsible digital citizens, it’s about not getting sucked in. This is one of the most difficult questions I think we face as we try to prepare our kids to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.
It’s hard enough to deal with at home, with my own teens (although both prefer to visit in person with friends and family over screen encounters). How do we deal with the dozens of kids sitting in our classrooms, iPhones in their pockets, texting, tweeting, and snapchatting through their day?
We talk about “blended learning” — a mix of old and new. Tech that stems out of face-to-face discussions. I talk to my kids often about how language arts — the reading and thinking about literature and the thought that goes into expansive writing — is learning slowed down. I try to liken our classroom learning to boiling a pot of water, throwing all the veggies in, and then putting it on simmer a good long while until it becomes soup. Instant cup-a-soup just isn’t the same as the bowls grandma pours out after having the pot sit on the stove for hours.
I find this to be a bit of an uphill battle — as the clock ticks to the next bell and then the next, all signaling the time the kids get to go home and resume their screen encounters.
If you’re an educator, what do you think of the statistics presented in this article in The Atlantic? Are you worried — or even mildly concerned — about the push for curriculum to include more tech, mimicking social media? What do you do in your classroom to stem the negative and isolating effects of screen-time and social media on our kids?