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Journeys into a New World

Journeys into a New World
Liane Angaran

So many new and incredible adventures lie ahead for our children. One is the journey into the digital world. This can be really exciting and overwhelming for our little ones. Sometimes it is so much information that it is hard for them to process and know what is good for them and what is not. We are so fortunate to have a fantastic team of educational technologists who create opportunities throughout the year to help introduce various aspects of computer science. Last week was Digital Citizenship Week, and the students were able to learn important lessons about how to navigate the digital world. You can read some of my colleagues’ blogs about the lessons they learned, but I wanted to address some questions that families may have about screen time at school. There are two articles that I found which do a really good job at explaining the research done within the past few years on screen time and how we (families and teachers) can be responsible supporters in our children’s digital journeys.

Students watching a clip from our Digital Citizenship lesson explaining what the Internet is.

The first article was written last year in Education Week, “Students Are Behaving Badly in Class. Excessive Screen Time Might Be to Blame” by Sarah D. Sparks. Ms. Sparks basically says that we need to be very intentional when introducing technology to children. In the school, we need to make sure to do what Mid-Pacific is already doing, creating and teaching a digital citizenship curriculum. I was comforted to know that our EdTech team was on track with what experts said schools needed, ensuring students know the physical, mental, and social behaviors that impact their well-being. She also explains that if we are using it for educational purposes, then it can be very beneficial for student learning. At home, she talks about how the timing of digital use can impact sleep patterns and how the blue light along with game and social media triggers make it difficult for the children’s brains to settle for sleep.

Children learning about the “Outlaws” who are characters that portray people they should inform a trusted adult about.

The second article talks about excessive screen time as well and how families and teachers need to work together to establish balance and mindfulness for screen time.  In her article, “Here’s What the Research Says About Screen Time and School-Aged Kids,” Kecia Ray explains how researchers in Australia identified categories of screen time. The categories were social, educational, passive, interactive, and other. Of those categories the educational category showed no significant impact on health and had positive effects on children’s educational outcomes and persistence.

We know that technology is now a routine part of our daily lives. At Mid-Pacific we like to use technology as a learning and innovation tool. However, we also recognize there needs to be a balance between screen time and authentic personal interactions. It is a lot of fun to see what they learn and create and many times they are teaching me new ways to do things!

Children playing a student created Kahoot! (game-based learning platform used to create learning games or trivia quizzes).

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