As the end of the term draws to a close, you probably have one eye glued to the calendar as you will yourself into the holidays. Often at this stage of the year, fatigue is battling with the seemingly never ending lists of tasks to be completed – you’ve been working hard on reports, registers, meetings, professional development, planning, assessment setting and / or marking … need we go on?
As earlier stated, digital amputation is not a solution. Teaching our kids healthy media habits is critical. This requires action on behalf of schools, parents and health professionals, which in turn requires learning and upskilling because parents and educators are the first generation of raising and working with digital natives. Put simply, you don’t know what you don’t know. Raising and teaching kids in the digital age is new terrain that we’re (as educators and parents) trying to navigate (and often we’re trying to figure this out on the fly and on the backfoot.)
Here are some simple ideas that you can implement at both home and school to encourage kids to balance their screen- and green-time.
// Plan unplugged times
// Mind-wandering mode
Time unplugged and in nature allows our students’ brains to enter what neuroscientists call ‘mind wandering mode’ which is also considered the ‘default mode’ of thinking. When our students are outdoors, they’re away from their screens (hopefully) and therefore they’re not processing the multitude of sensory input that screens offer (sounds, animations, graphics, text). This allows their prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that’s responsible for their higher-order thinking) to switch off. As a result, their mind can wander. During this mode of thinking, they can come up with creative solutions to problems, develop new ideas and be creative. (This is also the exact same reason why we often have our best ideas in the shower, after a run, or after a holiday.)
Our kids are experiencing digitalised childhoods. Their plugged-in childhoods are impacting their health, development and even the ways that they want and expect to learn. Technology is changing so many things about childhood and adolescence.
For example, we now know that today’s kids are leading more sedentary lives and one of the reasons (it’s certainly not the only reason) is because of their screen infatuation. Teachers throughout Australia are anecdotally reporting changes to students’ fine motor skills and research now confirms that many children learn to tap, swipe and pinch before they’ve learnt to ride a bike, grip a pencil or tie their shoelaces. There are also mounting concerns that young students’ gross motor skill development is also being impacted because of excessive time spent with screens (fundamental movement skills like crawling, hanging off monkey bars and rolling and swinging to develop their vestibular systems are being displaced by screen activities).
Bullying remains a complex and critical issue within schools, with 1 in 4 students reporting that they’ve been bullied on a regular basis.
This infographic created from statistics from the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study shows just what impact bullying is having on students in our schools.
Any parent of a teenager or adolescent child will tell you that trying to prise them away from a screen when they are mid-flight in sending a life changing message or viewing ‘just one more’ image on Instagram is nigh on impossible.
The language can be enough to make your hair curl and the conviction with which the device is clutched to the chest is little short of obsessive. Tablet devices are frequently finding their way into bedrooms and now many teenagers’ beds are becoming floodlit with an eerie blue glow as tablets are hidden under sheets and doonas so they can be used at all hours of the night.
Staff were also encouraged to take part in a 30 day challenge, where they were required to do something to improve their health for 30 days straight.
A whopping 42 out of approximately 70 staff took up the challenge and gave up things like soft drink and lollies, while some committed to exercising three times a week.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data show that children as young as 5 have been taking their own lives.
And shockingly, suicide is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 17.
One local council in Victoria has responded to youth suicide in its community by developing a school education program.
To read more click here.
Social networking sites such as Facebook have become a popular way for people to source health information, specifically relating to diet and exercise. However many adolescents are unable to differentiate between the credibility and accuracy of the health advice offered.
The results of a study by Stephanie Jong of Flinders University draws on two of the five propositions of the Australian Curriculum: developing health literacy and including a critical approach as ways to build on the enthusiasm of social networking sites and guide adolescents to improve the way they evaluate health information they find online.