This is a big question! Should schools ban smartphones and other devices? It is a big struggle because truly there is no easy nor one final answer.
Smartphones and School
Many schools and governments around the world are struggling. The reality; is that trying to figure out how to deal with smartphones and other devices in the classroom is not so straight forward. Last year, France passed a law that banned students from using smart devices at school. In addition, the UK schools minister Nick Gibb is looking at a new policy to be introduced to ban phones from schools.
One school of thought is that rather than ban them, we need to empower the education sector. They can find innovative ways to turn these powerful devices into genuine learning companions.
Technology can enable a richer learning experience, rather than distracting from it. It is a legitimate concern that social media will divert students’ attention. Another option is to involve students in the process to design experiences that truly engage and motivate them.
Gamifying education is one way to maximize the power of these devices and to create more engaging and effective learning experiences. In this regard, we need to better understand the behaviours and motivations of young people today. Then figure out how to engage them whereby they will learn in a way they enjoy.
How to Harness the Role of Smartphones
All the conversations are usually around how smartphones are eroding attention spans, harming productivity, relationships, and mental health. However, this is really a chance for us to teach a healthier way to use technology.
We can raise a generation that is more knowledgeable about the wider role technology plays. This includes politically, socially, and environmentally; and with this a greater appreciation for the positives of what technology could enable.
If the next generation gets proper training, they will be better placed to use technology for a more sustainable future. They can be encouraged to indeed harness the sheer opportunities that the role of smartphones play.
Parental Modeling and Mentoring
Both parents and teachers play an important role in modelling and mentoring when it comes to screentime.
It is advisable not to fight, but rather to look for the right balance when it comes to the use of screen time.
We are rarely without our smartphones. We reach for our phones in moments of boredom, or sometimes, just compulsively. This is because we are so used to checking them. While there are some easy solutions; like turning off notifications, for example, increasing awareness of when and why we are pulled to our devices is critical towards making healthy changes.
Our children are watching all this and imagine what they are learning from you when they see you checking your smartphone anywhere from 80- 200 times a day.
Many parents struggle with setting limits for their own screen use, which may explain why many parents do not set limits for their teen’s use of screens. [Read: Tips on How to Monitor Your Child’s Screen Time]
Let us start with having open and honest conversations about healthy screen time habits and how devices can be used for learning, but not to the detriment of social skills.