Published On: Monday, February 12, 2024|Categories: Learning Environment|

Technology has made its way into the classroom in schools across the country. Sometimes, this is for the best. But other times, it has negative consequences. At The Tenney School, we stay in touch with the current trends in education. As we know, this often means utilizing devices in the classroom. However, we found that younger students do not always respond well to having excessive screen time in the classroom—as such, we took them away from our students.

In order for parents to understand this decision, we want to outline some information that clarifies at what age students can self-manage their device usage. After reading, you’ll have a better understanding as to why it was the best decision for the school to limit the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom.

Screen Time in Schools: The Basics

There are many different ways to incorporate screens into the school day. Whether students use Chromebooks, televisions, phones, gaming devices, or tablets, there are many ways to bring the screen into the classroom. Of course, this can sometimes facilitate creative and exciting ways to learn, but in other instances, it can be distracting.

In some schools, teachers incorporate what are called “tech-free days” which gives the students certain days to have a reprieve from going on electronic devices. Having some school days with screens and some school days without screens is a great approach. However, when it comes down to it, younger students simply cannot manage screen time on their own—even if they only have it a few times a week.

Does Screen Time Negatively Impact the Mental Health of Students?

The short answer is ‘yes’. According to experts at the University of California San Francisco, there are a few reasons why children having too much screen time can lead to problems. For example, for middle schoolers, too much screen time can lead to oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorders. Moreover, watching excessive amounts of YouTube or playing too many video games can increase the risk of students developing OCD.

Students are not necessarily playing video games at school. Unfortunately, when we allow students to access electronic devices, we risk that they will get off task on said devices. Because Tenney cares about the mental health of our students, we believe it’s crucial that students come to school and receive a break from devices. Electronics will be there when the kids get home!

How Screen Time Effect Students’ Focus and Behavior

Because we learned screen time contributes to certain mental health conditions, it should not come as a surprise that too much screen time can impact children’s behavior in class, for the worse. Screens make it harder for children to focus in school, which unsurprisingly affects their behavior. As students develop into lifelong learners, they deserve to put their best foot forward in the classroom. When screens are involved, sometimes it hinders students’ ability to be attentive during lessons and assessments.

When Can Students Manage Electronics on Their Own?

We’ve been over a few ways that screen time negatively impacts the way that students function in the classroom. It can affect their mental health, focus, and behavior. However, as we alluded to, it is not always detrimental for students to have electronics in the classroom. At Tenney, we’ve found that high school students can manage devices better than middle schoolers can, for example. But why is it that high schoolers can manage devices and middle schoolers can’t? Here’s why middle schoolers are not quite ready to have devices in the classroom:

Younger Students Are More Likely to Be Distracted

Not only do electronic devices have the potential to distract students. But also, watching other students use electronics can be distracting. That is, if a student is trying to watch their teacher demonstrate a lesson, and their neighbor is doing something on the computer, it is likely the student who is not on the computer will still be distracted by the neighbor’s laptop. Older students are better equipped to manage distractions, while younger students are more easily tempted to use electronics.

Taking Notes by Hand Leads to Better Retention

Although high school students are still absorbing crucial knowledge, middle school students are still learning foundational skills that will shape the course of their education. Because of this, it is a good idea for younger students to take paper notes, instead of digital notes.

Giving Young Students Devices Makes It Harder to Go Without

Some college courses prohibit students from using devices. As time goes on, this might not be the norm anymore. However, it’s best for students to understand what school is like without devices so that they can thrive as they continue their educational careers.

What Has Tenney Found After Taking Away Devices?

As parents, you should know that happiness and connection are at an all-time high at The Tenney School. We believe this has a lot to do with the fact that we took away devices for some classes. It is incredibly hard for young people to make lifelong connections in a world that is dominated by screens. And, as we know, there is no better place for children to make friends, than at school. Because of this, we want to ensure our students have the best opportunity possible to make friends while at Tenney. With screens taken away in many classrooms, more and more students are making new friends and feeling like engaged members of our community.

At Tenney, the Screens Are Off, and the Thinking Caps Are On

Let’s recap: in some instances, students will use devices at school, but overall, we want to ensure students do not have too much screen time. We are always monitoring our protocols to ensure we are doing what’s best for our students. For now, we are proud of the fact that our students are strengthening their communication skills, improving their mental health, and making friends—without too much screen time. For more information about The Tenney School, contact us.

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