Our working class Queens community must be aware of the growing changes that are developing within the schools and homes of some of the most elite communities across the nation. We need to remain knowledgeable in our understanding of key shifts within our public schools and the assumptions that are being made.
In a New York Times article, The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected we find that parents across the nation including Overland Park, Mo. and Silicon Valley are highly worried about the implications that too much screen time with technology will have on their kids. Now you’re likely thinking that you already knew that your student is glued to their phone or iPad but it is imperative we understand why.
This argument was once centered around the idea that the rich would have more access to technology and leave underprivileged or middle class students behind. Since this argument began our public schools and learning institutions have hurried to get on the technology bandwagon, but the fact remains that we are in uncharted territory. The effects that technology will have on our youngest learners is unclear. The mention of completely digital pre-schools and classes being held exclusively online should be of concern to us as a community and we need to make an informed decision.
The article reports data from Common Sense Media, a non-profit media watchdog, that indicates that “lower income teenagers spend an average of eight hours and seven minutes a day using screens for entertainment, while higher income peers spend five hours and 42 minutes.”
Our children’s counterparts are already making a shift away from screens due to the growing concern of technology’s addictive nature.
An excerpt from the article says: “The psychologist Richard Freed, who wrote a book about the dangers of screen-time for children and how to connect them back to real world experiences, divides his time between speaking before packed rooms in Silicon Valley and his clinical practice with low income families, where he is often the first one to tell parents that limiting screen-time might help with attention and behavioral issues.” The addictive nature of YouTube Auto-play, refreshing on Instagram for likes and Snapchat streaks were worth a few mentions.
Initially, the concern was a divide due to access to technology but now that our students have access, the new divide is how to limit it to make sure our kids develop healthy behaviors. Adopting an understanding about how to best limit technology is imperative.
In our experience at Ace, we often encounter students refusing to hand over their phones during key instructional periods and the reasoning is usually, “What if my Mom calls me?” Yet they remain glued to social media rather than focusing on their work. The understanding is that once you arrive at your designated location and are under the care and supervision of trusted adults, your phone should be kept out of sight. The student must become fully engaged with the task at hand, your education. Too often, we as educators are not met with that understanding and experience pushback.
We want what is best for your learner but cannot be effective if we do not have to compete with the phone and iPad. Keeping in mind that the effects of technology on our students have largely been an experiment, we must share with you what we have been experiencing with learners in our community from 5-18 years old. There is a lack of eye contact, trouble with non-verbal communication, a lack of understanding when it comes to pleasantries and small talk, and a lack of empathy for others.
The constant rush of instant gratification and constant over-stimulation from our digital devices has damaged our students’ social learning - things that cannot be taught from the internet. By only interacting through a screen, they have missed many learning opportunities, and it is important that we be cognizant of that, and learn to limit screen time.