In2edu I.C.T. Resources Enhancing Education & Learning

Digital Technologies Screen Time Leading to Increased Suicides?

Nothing like a good debate, and emotive headlines! 
I'm a parent now living at home without children (old enough to be grandparent but as an ex youth leader, AKA up to a year ago - still think young?), a teacher, and a digital technologies advocate. And the debate about costs and benefits of digital technologies and the values they encompass and "broadcast" via their use mean we need to keep having these sorst of debate. Our pupils should be having discussions and reflective thinking time among themselves and with their parents on these topics, encouraged as part of our Digital Technologies programmes.
More important than the skills we teach - this is the interesting debate between the differences in the Maori version of the Digital Technologies document and the English version - are the underlying values and attitudes that we are wanting to see developed in pupils. Explicit teaching of these values are difficult in a curriculum with emphasis on assessment of knowledge and skills and in time poor situations, which is why we must as teacher internalise these so well that we use incidental teachable moments constantly to back up any explicit teaching. How we model digital citizenship (including parents) is an important part of this also.
The starting point for this entry was reading an article entitled: "With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit." which is examining the links between social media, screen time and teenage health including impacts on suicide rates. The basic opinion of the article is that the the peak in 2012 of suicide rates can be linked to the length of screen time, backed up by interpretation of data from some studies. My initial comment reaction was:
"I would be interested, living in N.Z. with one the highest rates of suicide if correlation with screen time tracks country rates of suicide?I also wonder if there is a perfect storm for today’s generation, a bit like possible tipping points for climate change: increasing nuclear families, widening gaps inequality, increased social media pressures and intrusion, less church and youth group attendance (other places to learn to socialise), less involved parenting styles, increased academic pressures, increased negative talk (society, bullying) etc as well as the screen time factor. This could mean then that sudden spikes in suicide could come as all of these items gather in the minds or backgrounds of the youth of today. Can combined effects therefore have spiking effects that no-one effect is on its own responsible for. However, this also could mean that addressing one effect at a time can be a way to undo what is happening - so taking action in some way within your family is important?"

Related to pupils and screens is a speaker Nicholas Karadaras. Author, and experienced addictionologist, he is currently touring NZ under the banner of the term, "GlowScreens". His stance is that children under 10 should not be interactive with screens and that digital screens are a 'giant have' by technology companies to sell gear. He points out that Finland got to the top of PISA without a lot of Digital Technology. This was true - but remember PISA focuses on 'paper' tests and that Finland in 2017 is now restructuring their curriculum, including a very solid focus on Digital Technology. However, a good takeaway from Karadaras is that screens are addicting and that we need to watch out for the red flag of how kids react with asked to "leave" their technology for something else. If our lives are not full of other good things and interactions (physical, social, mental, spiritual) then the addictive power of screens can seriously affect the minds and spirits of young people. If a pupil has underlying learning difficulties, Nicholas Karadaras insists that difficulties of addition and problems with mind development and anti learning behaviours are more likely to occur, however other critiques of this point out the benefits of digital technologies.

What do you think? What are the impacts for us in N.Z.? How does this steer the NZ Digital Digital Technologies Curriculum? What are the values and attitudes we are teaching and modelling to our kids?

Here are the Digital Citizenship resources used within our school.

References:
Increased Screen Time Equals Suicide?
Appraisal/Critique of Above Article
Decreasing Drug Use Among Teens
Glow Kids - should kids under 10 use screens at all (Nicholas Karadaras) 13 min Youtube?
Glow Kids - should kids under 10 use screens at all (Nicholas Karadaras) 45 min Vimeo?
Glow Kids - Epidemic of our Times - AM Show
The Verge - Glow Screen Critique
Digital Heroin
Finland 2014 - top of PISA without Digital Technology
Finland and Innovation 2017
Finland Country Report on ICT in Education

Comments (2)

Checking Browser History

Click to Enlarge
The ICT Agreement in our school states that all Internet history will be left intact, they should never be empty unless the browser has not been used, in which case a decision could be made to delete it from Applications.

A recent survey in the States suggest that only 10% of parents have interacted with their children's Internet use. I would suggest that as parents we need to be involved in learning and values discussions with our children, in helping them learn safety on the web.

These are our tips for boys to show their parents their history or for parents to discuss the latest learning sites used with their son.

Firstly, keep in mind that there can be multiple browsers on a laptop. The most common are: Safari, Firefox and Chrome. We would ask that boys do not install any others as they are not required. Also keep in mind that all new cellphones have Internet browsers.

Secondly, Each of these browsers has on the menu at the top of the screen a "History" Menu. Simply click to view and look through.

That's it 1,2 and you have had another great moment with your child! Some parents have mentioned to me, "How do I respect my child's privacy, or stop them saying you don't trust me.' I would like to reply from my own experience as a parent and youth pastor the your children DO NOT have the right to hide this from parents that care and that if you establish this as a routine then it will be matter of fact. I checked up on my son and daughter's history until they were 16-18, I reserved this right while I was letting them use technology I had purchased for them.
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Traffic Lights for Online Responsibility

This is our new online responsibility visual. Developed within the school we are promoting this as a quick overview of the responsibilities we all have in using social media and posting online information. It summarises some aspects of the ICT Code of Conduct which outlines further details.
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Cybersafety Pamphlet

cybersafety_online

This is a copy of our cybersafety pamphlet (pdf version) for parents and pupils. Fuller information
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