The pandemic and lockdown bought with it a huge number of challenges for everyone, some of which were much harder to deal with than others. For those students, and their teachers who were forced to turn to remote schooling as a way of keeping up with their studies this undoubtedly meant more screen time. Whilst this was a necessary “evil” to allow students to not lose out on important schooling, it certainly an issue that needs addressing. The question is how can teachers, sometimes teaching remotely, help their students to strike a good screen time balance?
Why should screen time be limited?
You have probably heard lots about how screen time should be limited, and that too much screen time is bad for you but maybe not the reasoning behind this.
Firstly, and this is the one that more people are aware of, if people spend too much time staring at a screen it can cause eye strain. Looking at the blue light from a screen tends to make you blink less and this in combination with the movement of the screen means your eyes need to work harder to focus. Having the screen at the wrong angle or distance can also cause an issue.
Studies into the issue have also revealed that spending too much time looking at a screen can also lead to poor sleep, an increased risk of obesity due to lack of movement and poor results in school – something which seems a little counterproductive from remote schooling. The same studies also found that the older a child was and the more time that they spent using screens then the smaller the number of educational activities they were likely to engage in – something that could certainly represent a challenge for teachers trying to engage their students during remote classes.
Before we even consider how to tackle students spending too much time in front of a screen it is worth considering how the screen time they do need can be improved. For those students using laptops or even desktop pc’s to access classes ensuring that the screen is an appropriate level and distance should not be too difficult, there is plenty of information out there that could be provided to students to ensure this is improved. For those students accessing classes via a tablet or, as is the case for many, a mobile phone, it can be a little tricker. There are however stands that can be purchased to make it easier.
Building natural screen breaks into your lessons can also be a good idea, so give your pupils a task that need to be written on paper, and set an online timer so that they know how much time they have. You will still be there to answer questions and make sure they are working but this will also give them a break from staring at the screen.
Finally, encourage then to get up and stretch their legs in between lessons; this will get them moving and, of course, give them a short screen break.