There is no denying that technology has become an integral part of our lives and will continue in this fashion for the foreseeable future. In terms of the classroom, this development is excellent, as technology has become vital to teaching students across the world with a wide range of learning skills. In fact, the advantages were explained eloquently in a number of blog posts by teachers such as Justine Stephenson-Kyle, Aubrey Swift, and Ian Temple, just to name a few. However, today’s post will focus on what happens with technology when the school bell rings and the students head home.
My contention is that the students have become too reliant on technology as their only source of entertainment, and this is leading to a decrease in play and outdoor activity. Obviously, this lack of play and exercise combines with the health hazards already associated with technology to create a society of children more unhealthy than ever before.
The fear of technology and machines taken over our lives has been around for many years. Twenty-Five years ago, a cinema classic, Terminator 2, predicted what could happen if the machines took over. While the machines may not have taken over in such a drastic way, there has definitely been a phenomenon present where students are addicted to their phones. In my personal experience as a teacher, the moment students are given any free time they instantly take out their phones to check their various social media platforms. In fact, there was a study performed on American college students which concluded that they were in fact, addicted to social media.
As I mentioned earlier, this problem extends beyond the classroom to social lives and free time of our students and ourselves as teachers as well. Lindsey Holmes, an editor for the Huffington Post referenced a number of studies that can result from an overuse of technology. Of particular note to young people, is the fact that our phones are causing skin blemishes, due to the unseemly amount of germs and bacteria on our phones. Another key point illustrates that “adverse impact on our sleep cycle thanks to the glowing light that’s emitted from screens.” Furthermore, Holmes points out that this can be especially problematic for young people who need the proper amount of sleep.
Further examples can be found in this LiveStrong article, which highlights the fact that “an increase in exposure to technology goes hand in hand with a decrease in physical activity.” The article continues on to prove that technology also increases snacking (usually of an unhealthy variety).
My final example comes from the study Determining the Effects of Technology on Children, by Kristina Hatch. Within her study, she references a newsletter by the British Columbia Society of Occupational Therapists which states “Children now rely on technology for the majority of their play, grossly limiting necessary challenges to their bodies in order to achieve optimal sensory and motor development… with subsequent impact on achieving basic foundation skills necessary for literacy.”
Now the question you may have is what can we as teachers do change the behaviours outside of school hours. Is this the job of the parents? Or are we still responsible for our students actions on the evenings and weekends? My belief is that while we are not “responsible” per se for the actions of our students on their own team, it would be best for them and for society as a whole if we could do our part to make them aware of the dangers of spending too much time on their devices. After all, it has stated in the Saskatchewan Goals of Education since 1985 that we should help students “Recognize the importance of productive activity” and “Maintain a safe and healthy community.” As well, it definitely couldn’t hurt to show them the hilarious and enlightening video about the benefits of nature.
My hope is that this post can spur some spirited discussion about other ways we can motivate students of all ages to put their phones down and get back to a lifestyle full of healthy exercise.
Until next time, as Hal Johnson and Joanne Mcleod would say “Keep fit and have fun.”