Technology in the classroom keeps our children on the cutting edge and prepares them for a future that will include tech we can’t imagine yet. But can it go too far?
Yes. It goes too far when children and teenagers spend class time watching YouTube videos or chatting with a friend on the other side of the room via their personal devices.
This Boston Globe article starts with a teacher who’s leaving the profession for a pretty specific reason:
“The texting, tweeting, and Snapchatting during class time are ‘an incredible distraction, and makes it much more difficult to teach,’ she said. ‘It’s pretty hard to compete with a very funny YouTube video.'”
While some teachers see that mobile device as a learning tool, many others call it a distraction, and the research backs them up: banning smartphones in schools has been shown to improve test scores. This was especially true among underachieving students, who may be more likely to be distracted by a smartphone.
Smartphones in School
- Weakened Education: The biggest problem is obvious: if kids and teens are engaged with their screens, they’re not listening to their teachers. Even if the school has good intentions to use those devices as learning tools, it’s very tempting for a teen to check Instagram or Snapchat while researching for a history lesson.
- Too Much Screen Time: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time for children, and it’s hard to do that if your child is using a device throughout the school day. If they continue that use before and after school, they could be spending well over six hours a day watching videos, browsing the internet, and texting.
- Additional Exposure to Internet Risks: The more time a child spends online, the more chance he or she has of exposure to bullying, inappropriate websites, online predators, and sick games like the Blue Whale Challenge.
How Parents Can Help
Some schools ban smartphone use during class, but if yours isn’t one of them, you can take action to protect your children and their education.
With a trustworthy parental control on your child’s mobile device, you can limit the apps and websites your children are allowed to access during school hours. This way, they can still participate in any teacher-directed research, online quizzes, or other internet learning according to the curriculum in the classroom. However, you can block social media and games to keep your children focused on the study material.
Talk to your children’s teachers. If smartphones and other devices are not used in the classroom at all, which may be the case even if there is no official smartphone ban, you can disable internet access on your children’s phones during school hours. If you school already offers a layer of protection inside the building make sure you use a parental control that has a safe WiFi feature, allowing your child to be safe at school and again as soon as they leave the building!
Of course, you want to be able to reach your children in case of an emergency, but you will still be able to call them. Remind your children that they don’t need to check the phone constantly to see if they’ve heard from you; instead, they can trust that you’ll call or text with important information they can see between classes or after school, and in the most urgent cases you can call the school and ask the staff to relay the message directly to your children. That way, your kids know that in serious situations, they won’t risk missing the message because they’re busy with school. Thankfully, those occasions are few and far between.
For children and teens to spend their days in school and not get the education they deserve is upsetting. If they’re glued to their smartphones instead of absorbing math, science, history, and art lessons, their grades are likely to suffer, creating a domino effect that could impact their test scores, college applications, and job prospects.
While no parental control solution is a replacement for parenting, they are a crucial tool to help parents keep their children’s mobile devices safe from dangerous content such as pornography and violence. Additionally, they make it easy for parents to manage screentime!