How to create a healthy ed-tech culture in class and at home

Managing smartphone and ed-tech use is not solely the job of teachers, expert says
By: | May 12, 2020
A new nonprofit, LiveMore ScreenLess, has held focus groups in which students have admitted they have poor communication skills. Some even want to take a class on having conversations.A new nonprofit, LiveMore ScreenLess, has held focus groups in which students have admitted they have poor communication skills. Some even want to take a class on having conversations.

Teachers and administrators should set guidelines when helping students—and parents—navigate screen time smartphones and the internet, says Thomas Arnett, a senior research fellow in education at Clayton Christensen Institute, which studies innovation.

In class, students should only use screens in a setting where others can see what they’re doing, Arnett says.

“They shouldn’t be sitting in a corner where the screen is facing the wall,” Arnett says. “When on a screen, students should not be doing something that’s hidden.”

Educators must be clear about the purpose of devices that are sent home, so parents can help students manage use. Problems can arise when homes don’t have the same internet filters protecting students that schools do.


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“I’ve heard from parents who are concerned that the school has given students free access to the internet and the parents weren’t ready for that,” he says.

But know that managing smartphone and ed-tech use is not solely the job of educators.

“Some of that falls within parents’ domain,” Arnett says. “School shouldn’t feel obligated to control students’ screen time away from campus.”

Nonprofit tackles student screen time

A new nonprofit, LiveMore ScreenLess, wants to help schools prioritize student wellness as they develop screen time policies and guidelines.

The organization has held focus groups in which students have admitted they have poor communication skills. Some even want to take a class on having conversations, says co-founder Maree Hampton, a public health expert.

“We’ve heard them say, ‘We don’t know how to talk to one another. We’ve relied on texting and social media to communicate, and now it’s really awkward,’” Hampton says.

The nonprofit’s survey of teachers revealed near-unanimous concerns about lack of students’ sleep, bullying and depression, all of which can be linked to how young people use their devices, Hampton says.

LiveMore ScreenLess is creating a series of videos in which young people talk about navigating screen time in and outside school, and the actions they’re taking to avoid being distracted by their devices.


Read the other stories in DA’s series on healthy screen-time use:

  1. 4 concepts for balancing screen time in the online learning era.
  2. How educators can encourage digital wellness.
  3. Why educators need to change their ed-tech message.
  4. 4 concepts for balancing screen time in the online learning era.


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