Conversations in Education
From teacher book groups to conversations in the faculty lounge, Prep faculty and administrators think a lot about how we support students. Each month in 2017-18, we are featuring a piece by a Prep faculty member or administrator that gives a slice of life at Prep. If you would like to share your ideas, feel free to comment on an individual post or contact Dean of Studies Sarah Cooper.
From teacher book groups to conversations in the faculty lounge, Prep faculty read and talk a lot about education. Each month we highlight a few memorable pieces or videos. Our goal is to make the process of parenting, learning and living a little saner, to put things a little more in perspective. These articles will be chosen by Prep teachers and administrators. If you want to share your ideas, feel free to comment on an individual post or contact Dean of Studies Sarah Cooper.
Discussing Screen Time
By Midge Kimble
Today, I can watch Ellie, my 21-month-old granddaughter who lives in Texas, dance on my iPhone screen.
In my parents’ generation, as grandparents, they would wait for the photo duplicates to arrive in the mail. By the time those photos arrived, the developmental stage was long over, and the child had grown another inch.
It is pretty wonderful that I am able to gauge each milestone on Facetime and interact with Ellie in real time.
Yet, for parents and teachers, technology is a loaded word.
We follow discussions about devices in the news every day. The headlines range from Teens Spend Nearly Nine Hours Every Day Consuming Media to Your Smartphone May Be Hurting Your Sleep. We blame screens for an increase in bullying, as screens create pressure to be liked. They are a constant source of distraction, according to another ominous study, which suggested that kids can no longer understand social cues and emotions because of their digital connectedness.
One recent blockbuster article, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean Twenge in The Atlantic, suggests that the current generation of teenagers go out with their friends much less, are in no rush to drive, date less, are more likely to feel lonely, are less likely to get enough sleep and seem to report more symptoms of depression. Twenge’s article states that screen activities are linked to less happiness and that non-screen activities are linked to more happiness. She claims that we are on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in generations.
Recently, I had conversations with Prep’s seniors on what rules should exist about smartphones and screens for adolescents. These 12th graders felt that rules for them, at 17 or 18, were not necessary. They did have suggestions for younger students, though: Kids in 7th, 8th and 9th grades should remove their phones from their bedroom when they go to sleep. If screen time is affecting their grades, parents should formulate rules with them. During homework time, social media should be turned off. And no video games during the week.
Certainly, a factor to consider as we parent and teach our children is our own relationship with technology as adults. I have had my conversations with other adults interrupted to look at their phones. The newest word that I have learned is phubbing. That means ignoring someone in favor of your mobile phone. It hurts relationships and hurts people’s feelings. And I have been phubbed.
We have all watched adults texting in the car next to us with a vehicle full of children. Phones beep and ring everywhere we go. This is not just an issue with our 12-to-18-year-olds.
Let’s continue the discussion! If you would like to have more parent conversation around this topic, please attend Community Speaker Series showing of Screenagers, sponsored by the Parents Association and Fathers Club. According to the documentary, the average child in America spends more time consuming electronic media than going to school, and the movie suggests that parents aren’t necessarily being good role models. ….in this regard? Should we clarify we don’t mean in general?
Screenagers will be shown at 6:45 pm on Thursday, November 9, in Norris Auditorium. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with faculty and students. Please RSVP and be part of the conversation!
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