District Administration June 2020 - 21

GETTYIMAGES.COM: ELENA MALYSHEVA

SCREEN SMARTS

Providing guidance,
not rules, on screen time
and use of devices-during
school closures and once
buildings reopen
By Matt Zalaznick

S

creen time, social media, video
games and various other online
and digital activities are pretty
much the only way students can
maintain social lives under stayat-home orders.
Parents and educators should therefore not worry too much about how
many hours students over the age of 5
spend on a screen.
"We have done a good job of terrifying people about screen time," says Chris
Ferguson, a professor of psychology at
Stetson University in Florida. "The evidence suggests that screen time in and of
itself is not a good predictor of anything
and that it's not poisonous in the way we
might have convinced parents."
Spending time with friends and peers
is developmentally essential for the wellbeing of teens and pre-teens. So, adults
should ensure that children and teenag-

DistrictAdministration.com

ers are completing school work, as well as
getting enough sleep and exercise.
"Kids can go up to six hours a day
without any noticeable change in mental
wellness," Ferguson says. "If everything
else is balanced, their brains are not going
to rot because they're playing video games
four hours a day."
So, should educators readjust their
notions of "too much screen time" for
students, both while schools are closed
and once buildings reopen?
Encouraging digital wellness
All screen time is not created equal, notes
Chief Technology Officer Rich Boettner
of Hilliard City Schools in Ohio, which
has been a trendsetter in screen-time
management.
"If you remember the Food Pyramid,
we differentiate screen time in the same
way," Boettner says. "Choosing to do

some things in large portions and choosing to do others in smaller portions is
good."
Hilliard City Schools' Digital Wellness Project, which educators launched
in 2018, has since grown into a statewide and national initiative (DAmag.
me/digitalwellness).
In the 1-to-1 iPad district, digital wellness means helping students differentiate
between productive screen time and passive computer use, says Mark Pohlman,
director of instructional technology.
The district's technology leaders have
developed lessons that, for instance, help
students cope with FOMO-the "fear of
missing out" they may experience when

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June 2020 | 21


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District Administration June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration June 2020

District Administration June 2020 - Cover1
District Administration June 2020 - Cover2
District Administration June 2020 - 1
District Administration June 2020 - 2
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District Administration June 2020 - 4
District Administration June 2020 - 5
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