In this session, we discuss integrating Digital Citizenship across subjects, grades, and year levels school-wide. We talk about leveraging Common Sense Education to certify teachers as Digital Citizenship Educators as a way of creating common language around Digital Citizenship across the school. This session was presented at the ECIS Leadership Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, 2019.
I had the pleasure of writing another article for International Teacher Magazine by Consilium Education. My article, Integrating Digital Citizenship, talks about the work I do in schools around integrating Digital Citizenship and 21st Century Learning skills into curriculum. Most Digital Citizenship programs are done as add-ons to learning or part of a Tech or counseling program. With the award winning system I developed, Digital Citizenship is embedded into all grades, subjects, and lessons.
Click here to learn more about my Digital Citizenship programs
Not All Screen Time is Junk Food
I had the honor having my article, Not All Screen Time is Junk Food, published on EdCircuit. In this article, I discuss how screen time has positive and negative value for students based on its actual use. Screen time should be viewed as having nutritional value and fats/sugars. Some is junk food and some is not. This article was published in October, 2018.
Click here to read the full article.
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Not All Screen Time is Junk Food
From what I have read, screen time is dangerous. According to articles from parents groups, news outlets, and pseudo experts parents need to limit children’s screen time and be wary whenever they have a device in their hands. These articles highlight the numerous dangers of screen time from effects on social development to physical issues and online addiction.
For many parents, they read these articles and see their children on an iPad or a smartphone and they worry. They harken back to their childhoods, which were free from ubiquitous technology, and they conclude their children are being denied critical developmental experiences. They see our schools using devices for learning and they become more concerned. Many parents believe the sum total of time on devices is a major impediment to the children growing up happy and healthy.
In a way, these concerns are valid as excessive screen time, and the wrong type of screen time, can cause many of these problems. However, screen time is central part of modern children’s daily lives.
Screen Time is Central to Children’s Lives
Screen time is a key element of the hyper connected world children live in today. Their access to information, entertainment, communication, and now learning is tied more and more to screen time. They need devices to fully experience modern childhood, for better or worse.
The best analogy is that for modern children screen time holds the same level of importance to them as food and water. Just as with food, screen time has incredible value to children, but not all screen time is equal and it needs to be guided by parents.
The Value of Screen Time
Children in this hyper connected world must be able to navigate digital tools, use online information, and communicate effectively using multiple media. They must have the experience of using devices for multiple purposes if they are going to be productive after they leave school. They need to quickly and accurately find and use information on the Internet. Further, must develop skills in communication, articulation, and argumentation using online platforms and social media. In short, children have to become productive and effective Digital Citizens.
Common Sense Media has a number resources and guides on Digital Citizenship and screen time for parents.
Just as food must be eaten regularly to take in the benefits, Digital Citizenship skills are developed through regular practice and experience on a screen. Screen time should not be seen as a deterrent to childhood. There is tangible social, emotional, and academic value with children spending time on devices both at home and at school similar to the nutritional value of high quality food.
Not all Screen Time is Equal
As we know, not all food is high quality. Some food is nutritious, meeting our every day needs. Other food is best suited for growth, recovery, and improved health. And there is junk food, which we all know and love because it appeals to our tastes and appetites, but lacks in dietary value. The key with children’s eating is heavy doses of nutritious food, enough health food to meet their needs, and appropriate amounts (and limits) of junk food. And of course, moderating our food intake and not eating to excess is equally as important.
The same holds true for screen time. There are valuable uses of screen time such as creative activities or collaborative work. Screen time can be used for skill development or information access to meet learning needs. And, as with eating, there is the junk food of games and videos. Like food, screen time in each of these areas should be varied. More time should be spent in creative practices than on video games, but all types of screen time have value.
Bronwyn Joy’s Blog, Journeys of the Fabulist, has a detailed explanation of these levels and further reading for parents where she equates screen time to the classic food pyramid.
Similar to food intake that should be moderated, screen time must be moderated for children. It is a parental responsibility to govern the amount of time children spend on their devices and what they are doing on them.
Parental Involvement with Screen Time
Rarely would a parent leave their children alone in fully stocked kitchen and tell them to feed themselves. Parents would worry about food choice, over eating, and cuts and burns. Yet, this is the approach parents often take with screen time. They allow their children to sit alone on their devices without supervision or limits.
Like a well-rounded diet, screen time requires parental guidance. Parents should establish guidelines for when devices are being used and how they are used. They should establish limits on the junk food and make sure children spend time doing creative activities, just like eating their vegetables.
However, this cannot be done at without active involvement. Studies have shown that healthy eating habits come when parents eat with their children. This teaches children food choice, pacing, and moderation as well as establishing parental presence in their dietary choices. The same is true for devices. Parents need to model good behavior with their own devices. They need to be involved in the children’s online activities by using the same apps and games. And they should interact with their children using their devices and social media accounts.
By showing presence in screen time activities, children will be less prone to the dangers of device use and will make better choices as they will feel their parents are supervising them at all times.
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Integrating Digital Citizenship Across
All Subjects and Grade Levels
In this session, we discuss integrating Digital Citizenship across subjects, grades, and year levels school-wide. We talk about leveraging Common Sense Education to certify teachers as Digital Citizenship Educators as a way of creating common language around Digital Citizenship across the school. This session was presented at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong, 2018.
I was interviewed for a article in NOW! Jakarta in January, 2017 around Digital Citizenship and Parenting in the Digital World. This is the article.
Life in the digital age comes with both opportunities and threats. Technology is influencing parenting like never before, and many families say it makes it more challenging than ever.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Dr. Matt Harris, Ed.D., Deputy Head for Learning Technology at British School Jakarta (BSJ). Used with good intentions, technology can play an extremely positive role.
At BSJ, teachers and students incorporate technology into their daily teaching and learning. Dr. Harris and his team also actively engage with parents, to emphasise the importance of their presence in their children’s lives online.
We sat down with the father of two, who hails from California, to learn how technology can o er unlimited learning possibilities, and help children gain a broader understanding of the world.
What’s your view on children’s use of technology today?
Every one of us has a di erent approach to using technology, and children are no exception. Some use it for entertainment and educational activities, while others use it mainly to interact with
others. Technology is very powerful in helping kids to understand themselves and the world around them. These days, even the very youngest know how to look for information on the Internet, and use social media to connect with people all around the globe. Not only do they understand how to use the medium, they’ve also learned how to be articulate, how to get their message across platforms, and how to correct any communication errors that arise.
At what age should a kid be introduced to technology?
It varies between families and cultures. Because I come from the US, my views about appropriate parenting may be di erent from someone who grew up in Jakarta. My children were introduced to technology at the age of two, but other parents may prefer to wait until their children are older. There is no single answer to this question, but the bottom line is: discuss the matter openly as a family. Talk about the purpose of technology, the amount of time to spend on it, and what sorts of activities are allowed to take place online. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, discuss it with your children’s school or with others in your community.
How can we prevent our kids from becoming over-dependent on technology?
Developing kids’ comfort with technology is very important, since they are part of a world in which it’s pervasive. But it’s all about balance. Using a screen as the singular source of entertainment or education is not good, for anyone, so we should always combine it with other things o ine. And technology use should always be intentional – be it for recreation, education, or communicating with others. Finally, parents and educators must be a part of kids’ digital world. Send your children Snapchats, friend them on facebook: whatever they’re using, you should be doing it too. They need to feel your presence, just as they do o ine.
What is the impact of technology on child psychology?
It would be irresponsible to ignore its impact on students’ social development. To help students de ne and adhere to appropriate technology use, we run a Digital Citizenship programme that covers topics such as Internet safety, relationships and cyberbullying. This programme also encourages students to develop a positive online identity, in the same ways as they establish an equivalent reputation o ine. Critically, we make sure that parents are part of that discussion too.
What are some of the challenges that kids face online?
Some children can become over-reliant on technology, especially for entertainment. Poor practice tends to occur when kids are left alone to use the Internet without parental input. Computers shouldn’t reside in a study or spare bedroom; today’s mobile devices mean that families can use them together, in communal areas of the home, as a shared experience. Again, balance is the key, and we support parents and students in achieving that at home. As long as we all work together, as a strong community, we’ll be able to make sure the bene ts of technology far outweigh any possible challenges.
What kind of advice would you give parents out there?
It is essential for parents to talk with their children about technology use. Communicate openly about everyone’s expectations and responsibilities, and the consequences of appropriate and inappropriate use. Provide a safe space for discussion, set the boundaries, and then come to an agreement, making sure that everyone (including you!) can stick to it. Make sure your kids know that they can always come to you if they wish to discuss something, or if problems arise. Kids will make mistakes; that is okay. You and your children can learn from them.
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