There is absolutely no question that screens are part of all our lives and every single teen on the planet has been brought up surrounded by phones and their ever increasing advancement in technology. I didn’t have a phone at all until I started work (I know…) and even then I wasn’t about to pay for texts. How ridiculous! But here we are, our phones and other devices usually within arms reach and the world at our fingertips. So what does that mean for our teens?
In some ways, screens are fantastic, providing a link to the world, connecting people and all the knowledge of the human mind at your fingertips. But there is a dark side too, which is the bit we always seem to hear about. The list is exhaustive, but let’s have a look at the range screens have to offer in the world of Education.
Just as there was always a story of a kid who learnt to read from Teletext back in the day, there is much to be learnt from screens. Clearly the fact that you can Google anything is up there, but there are a lot of subtle ways too. Recently I was stunned by a child’s range of vocabulary as he was seemingly allergic to books, but he had picked up references from gaming and character names.
There are some great online platforms such as BBC Bitesize, The Oak National Academy and some reputable YouTube channels (I’ll put a list of people we use at the end of the blog) who provide high quality educational content, but there is some value in gaming, Tik Tok and specific Youtube searching. But the best screentime is when it’s active. In other words, you have specifically gone to find something.
Rather than a blanket ‘no screens’ policy, I would suggest a more flexible approach as we as adults have fallen into. I have certain games that provide absolutely no substance and frankly need little to no thought. But I love them! I have to be strict though, because it’s easy to get into a time warp playing them leaving hours of time wasted which could be productive.
So what’s the answer? Maybe start with these:
- I think a conversation with your teen is the key. Helping them to catagorise their screen time into useful, not so useful and absolutely no use would be a start. And an honest conversation about your screen time too and how you fit that in around work. Try not to dismiss and demonise any screen time. It’s the way of the world these days, but we have to be discerning.
- A frank conversation about where they are heading to after GCSEs starts to shape their working habits. We use this a lot to sharpen the students’ focus at Red Bird. When they have something to work towards or away from (eg. towards the grades they need for college or away from having to retake their maths ever again), the journey becomes a little clearer. If they don’t know, then Maths and English Language is a given in almost every setting and then 3 more passes opens a myriad of doors.
- Use the technology that is available to limit usage and curb a free rein on screens. I appreciate that this can cause angst, but if after the conversations, things aren’t ok, it might be necessary to pull the adult card for their own good. It might actually be what they are waiting for – it’s much easier to blame you for a curfew rather than self impose one.
Let me know how you get on – I’m always up for a chat!
Useful YouTube sites:
Owner of Red Bird Tutoring
Sue launched Red Bird Tutoring in 2018, combining her 20+ years experience as a teacher and school leader with her interest in coaching.
Since its launch, Red Bird has helped hundreds of learners achieve success!