Screen Time

15 Oct

Last week’s post brought up some interesting discussion, both in blog-land and in class. My professor summed it up like this:

Talking about “too much technology” in schools is similar to talking about “too much paper in schools.” It’s a medium to use: a tool, not a subject.

If technology is used positively and in a well-managed way, then yes, it can be a great tool for teaching and learning. However, there is a large difference between passively staring at a screen and learning from a tool. This New York Times article from last fall discusses the “app gap” – the different types of screen time high- and low-income children are getting. The gist of it is, children from higher-income families spend time playing educational apps, while children from low-income families watch television.

So what does this mean? It means that some children – higher income children – are going to be prepared for a world where information is at their fingertips. A world where someone can go on a hike, discover an interesting plant, take a picture of it and immediately have information about the plant. A world where their curiosity can be sated instantaneously. Other children – low income children – are going to be prepared to be entertained and receive information passively (if at all). They will lack curiosity and the desire to learn new things.

Additionally, in my opinion, it means that children are spending far too much time in front of screens – nearly 2 hours a day watching TV or something similar, and less than a half hour a day reading or being read to. Even if children are watching “educational” television, they are sitting passively and not interacting. They might learn something, but only what the educational show is teaching – their curiosity isn’t piqued, their minds aren’t expanding, and they aren’t using the tools available to us in our modern technological world.

We have all this technology – and it’s obvious children are going to spend time with it, so the question is: What can we do with these awesome new learning tools?


15 Responses to “Screen Time”

  1. respondingtothecall October 15, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    I agree that children are spending too much time passively in front of a screen. Technology can be more than video games and TV. As we are learning in our class, it can be used to connect to other teachers and their ideas. But what makes this tool useful is that these ideas and projects can become part of our physical classrooms. We also use some of the ideas found on the internet as a jumping off point for conversations in the classroom. Could our students be doing the same thing with other classes – getting ideas and jumping off points for projects and conversations?

    • teacherbecoming2013 October 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      That’s a great point. I have found some great ways to use technology as a teacher, but it seems like there aren’t a lot of ideas out there for students to use technology. I’d love to find some resources for getting students to use technology in a useful way!

  2. pedagogicalponderer October 15, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I think that technology can be a great tool in the classrooms. As you have mentioned information is now at out fingertips. Why not use that tool to supplement the learning of our students. Maybe during a lesson, when a question is brought up, the class can use the technology to answer questions and even expand on it. It would be such a cool moment when that is realized. But the reality is: money matters. Having ipads or laptops for every student in school might be hard to accomplish in that it just costs too much. I think the article you reference shows the reality of the world we live in. There exists a gap between high and low classes in terms of technology use and it will only get larger if schools do not act. Technology needs to be a part of schools but the question is how do we get it there?

    • teacherbecoming2013 October 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Maybe we write grants for technology, or try to create partnerships with companies that can supply our classrooms with software or hardware, like the partnership with Valve that we’ve been seeing at our Dyad. Maybe we come up with ways to use one piece of technology with the whole class, so each student gets the benefit. Hopefully someday classrooms will have access to all the newest technology, because it will be cheaper and because we will finally recognize the importance of teaching our children how to use technology.

      • teacherbecoming2013 October 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

        I heard a blurb on NPR the other day about how Amazon is pushing to get their Kindles in schools. They have a new program designed for educators (and other administrators) to easily manage a group of Kindles and their content. Tech companies want their equipment in schools, because it creates future customers for them. We as teachers can use this to our advantage – we can sign up to test new hardware; to pilot educational programs; or even just for an educator discount.

  3. RLT October 15, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Can we also argue that “screen time” used for teaching literacy skills actually empowers young learners to access non-screen texts/mediums? These “modern” technologies require skills for use/navigation, but so do technologies of print, writing, reading. If screen-based technologies can be more effective in teaching (elements of) literacy, can they also be a part of a “screen time”-reduction strategy?

    • teacherbecoming2013 October 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      How would you use technology to teach literacy skills?

      • RLT October 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

        Using an iPad for reading is one example — the ability to click on words and immediately access a definition, hear someone read the word to you, etc. This could be an incredible tool, especially for ELL students. Uses technology, empowers students to access printed text.

  4. janevangalen October 16, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Dropping in here to this great conversation — We’ll do much more next quarter with kid tools, and I’ve been tweeting some things out, when I read things that teachers are doing. Kevin’s Meandering Mind blog is about 6th grade literacy with much tech integration. Kathy Cassidy does so much with her first graders. Google “quadblogging” to see global partnerships around writing.

    That NYT article is so important. Partly, kids in lower income homes may be doing more multitasking (ear buds to block out family in smaller homes, someone is watching TV in the same room that I’m reading websites for homework …) . But yes, the new digital divides aren’t about accessing equipment so much as they are about what kids do with the tools.

    Good teacher-generated talk about digital learning and literacy/writing here:

    • teacherbecoming2013 October 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      I am really looking forward to learning more about kid tools. Thanks for the recommendations of things to check out! I love the idea of using blogs to connect with classrooms around the world. In 2nd grade I had a pen-pal in Hawaii… I guess blogs are the new pen-pals!

      • lotsirb October 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

        Rosie – thanks for mentioning pen pals…I had forgotten that I had one in third grade. She was from the East Coast. I like the idea of finding pen pals for our students and combining written letters (handwriting practice, writing for many purposes) and email communication. In this way the students would be able to practice technology and typing, along with old-school communication skills. 🙂

  5. lotsirb October 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    thanks for mentioning pen pals…I had forgotten that I had one in third grade. She was from the East Coast. I like the idea of finding pen pals for our students and combining written letters (handwriting practice, writing for many purposes) and email communication. In this way the students would be able to practice technology and typing, along with old-school communication skills.


  1. One Quarter Ends, Another is Set to Begin « respondingtothecall - December 2, 2012

    […] into the world of teaching and consider how the classroom is changing.  One such post about screen time, challenged me to think about how to integrate technology and screens into the classroom, without […]

  2. End of Quarter Reflection: Fall « Teacher, Becoming. - December 9, 2012

    […] most commented on post was about children’s screen time, and whether or not it was good for kids to spend all day sitting in front of a screen. The post […]

  3. Blogging Reflection « PedagogicalPonderer - December 12, 2012

    […] I have not done as good a job as I could have. But my comment in Teacher,Becoming blog entitled Screen Time pushed their thinking about ways of looking to fund technology in the classroom. I think that the […]

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