Technology. It’s all around us, in every facet of our lives. Babies are born with the ability to swipe and tap. Although there’s research urging limited screen time, I allow my children ridiculous amounts of
According to a study discussed on Healthline, “researchers found that 37 percent of children had two hours or less of recreational screen time per day, 51 percent had 9 to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, and 18 percent got at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.” The problem isn’t screen time but instilling a healthy balance.
It’s imperative, especially in the age where schools are doing away with recess and physical education, to maintain a balance. I taught in a blended learning environment and my students spent about 50% of the school day on their laptops. How did I maintain the balance?
Recess was a MUST, even when it was raining. Tools like www.gonoodle.com worked great for those indoor recess days. It mixes movement & mindfulness with technology. The kids would get up and move, and practice skills or learn relaxation techniques at the same time. In his post, “Developing SEL Skills”, Jehu Somarriba discusses how teaching mindfulness to children will be an asset, a skill that will benefit them as adults. What a great way to maintain screen time balance by incorporating mindfulness, tech, and movement.
Early on in my teaching career, I was tech-free, meaning it was still whiteboards, notebooks, and textbooks for my class. Going to the computer room once a week (if that) was a treat. Transitioning to life in education dependent on computers was exciting, however, I still maintained my traditional rotation model, defined by eLearning Industry as “a variation of the learning stations model that teachers have been using for years. There is a set schedule by which students have face-to-face time with their teachers and then move to online work.” Using a rotation model allowed for movement, a change of environment and pace, and a break from the screen time.
What can happen at home to maintain a healthy balance? This is something I am currently working on as a parent. I am constantly fighting parental guilt because I know my children’s technology use is borderline an addiction. But I know I can’t be that hard on myself.
Here are some steps I have taken to minimize screen-time in our home:
- Lead by example
- We no longer leave the television while we eat at the dining room table
- We turn off all technology an hour before bedtime (read, play, meditate, TALK with one another)
- We leave tablets and the Nintendo Switch at home. We talk and listen to music (or read a book) during car rides.
- We enjoy the outdoors on weekends (love South Florida weather!)
These steps have made a huge difference. Our children definitely gave us pushback at first, but now we have formed better habits, my children are sleeping better, and I have received reports of better focus during the school day. Like everything else in life, it’s about moderation. Although we live in a digital world, let’s not let go of important analog tendencies.