The majority of educators in a recent survey said that they think students are spending too much time on their phones while they are in school, a topic that is likely to receive significant attention during this week's International Society for Technology in Education conference, according to a report in Education Week.
According to the results, 34% of educators said they were distracted by students' use of mobile devices, 80% said their students multitask during instructional time and 61% said that the multitasking impedes their students’ learning.
Teachers’ solutions to the problem vary, from having students turn off their phones to giving them mid-class breaks to check their phones. Some teachers felt that nothing needed to be done.
Teachers’ concerns about too much screen time make sense since teens spend about nine hours online each day, studies show. That said, not all screen time is harmful. Screen time that involves learning new skills and communicating what students have learned can be an active and useful for educational experience. And with device-driven curriculums more common in school, it's unlikely that screen time can be avoided completely.
The trick is to find the balance. Too much exposure to digital media can increase the risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens. A two-year study tracked 2,587 10th graders who initially showed no signs of ADHD. By the end of the study, the students with higher rates of digital media use were more likely to exhibit symptoms.
Technology should be supplemental and high quality. There should still be plenty of time for discussion, interaction and non-screen time. Digital media can help with homework, but if a student is using his or her phone for homework, they are likely to be distracted by social media alerts every minute or so. With that in mind, teachers can assign homework that requires screen time sparingly and encourage students to turn off notifications and use other tools that limit distractions.