The relationship between teens, screens and mental health is complex and multidirectional
Abby’s mom has sent her articles about research linking teen depression and suicide to screen use. A 2017 article in The Atlantic magazine — “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” — drew a link between negative trends in teens’ mental health and the rise of smartphones and social media.
The negative relationship between teens’ mental health and technology use is real — but tiny, the researchers found. “A teenager’s technology use can only predict less than 1% of variation in well-being. It’s so small that it’s surpassed by whether a teenager wears glasses to school.”
How to strike a balance? To start, try mentoring, not monitoring
Heitner’s work emphasizes a concept that’s also put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics in its guidelines for parents: media mentoring.
Look for the good in your kids’ media interests
For Benji, Minecraft is a social space where he plays with other kids and pulls pranks. He says he wishes his parents understood more about his screen use — “why it’s entertaining and why we want to do it. And also, for YouTube, why I watch other people playing games. When you watch sports, you’re watching another person playing a game! Why is it so different when you’re watching a person play a video game?”
Definitions of digital literacy can include the ability to use and access digital devices, but studies from the past decade tend to deepen this definition. A commonly cited definition from Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel asserts that digital literacy is “shorthand for the myriad social practices and conceptions of engaging in meaning making mediated by texts that are produced, received, distributed, exchanged etc., via digital codification.”
More recently, scholars including Jennifer Sparrow have suggested even adopting the term digital fluency instead of literacy in order to capture how students may need the “ability to leverage technology to create new knowledge, new challenges, and new problems and to complement these with critical thinking, complex problem solving, and social intelligence to solve the new challenges.”
instructional designers are key players who could take a more visible role in higher education to support educators in bringing explicit instruction on digital literacy engagement into their classes. University staff in instructional design and educational/faculty development spaces consult with instructors, lead workshops, and develop support documentation on a regular basis. People in these roles could be more empowered to have conversations with the instructors they support around building in particular lessons
Douglas Belshaw can be a source of inspiration for understanding how his essential elements of digital literacy may contribute to the development of students’ digital fluencies. In particular, some practices may include:
Integrating the use of different applications and platforms so that students obtain practice in navigating these spaces, learning how to locate relevant and reliable information. For example, guiding students to specific databases that provide articles, books, etc., for your discipline may improve information and digital literacy. This is critical because most students default to Google search and Wikipedia, which may not be where you want them to explore topics.
Developing student’s ability to curate content and how to follow academic integrity guidelines for citations and references.
Establishing the norms and purpose for effective communication in a digital academic space.
Gartner predicts that nearly 38 percent of companies will stop providing devices to workers by 2017 — but 20 percent of those BYOD programs will fail because of overly restrictive mobile device management measures. So how can IT pros devise a BYOD strategy that stays afloat? Here are six guidelines to accommodate legitimate IT concerns without sinking a policy’s odds of success:
Look to Existing Policies
Before creating a BYOD policy, take a look at existing HR and legal procedures. Many email, VPN, and remote access security policies can be applied to mobile devices, as well.
Provide Training and Education
Employees are using personal devices at work, whether the company realizes it or not. But that doesn’t mean they are using them correctly. Employees often use file-sharing and other tools of their choosing without IT’s knowledge, which could put sensitive corporate data at risk. Use a BYOD policy to trainemployees how to correctly use their applications
BYOD isn’t limited to smartphones. According to Gartner, a “new norm” is emerging in which employees manage up to four or five devices at work.
Enforce Passwords and Encryption
passwords aren’t foolprool. Data encryption is an additional security measure
Employees often fail to realize that all data on their devices is discoverable, regardless of whether the device is personal or company-owned. The question of who owns what is still a legal gray area, though companies increasingly take the liberty to remote wipe employees’ personal devices once they leave their job. Avoid the guessing game with a clear exit strategy.
In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation
Here’s how to evaluate the potential for mobile solutions
Before they set foot in their first class, incoming college students face a maze of requirements and resources that will be critical to their success. So-called “student supports” abound. Yet forty percent of first-year studentsdon’t return the following year, and a growing number report information overload as they navigate campus life amid newfound independence.
The nine in 10 undergraduates who own smartphones are probably familiar with the xkcd about it. College-aged Americans check their devices more than 150 times per day. So it should be no surprise that a growing body of research suggests that mobile solutions can play a critical role in enhancing the student experience.
1. Is the mobile app native?
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of using a smartphone to navigate a page that was designed for a computer. But when designing native mobile apps, developers start with the small screen, which leads to simpler, cleaner platforms that get rid of the clutter of the desktop browsing experience.
As smartphones overtake laptops and desktops as the most popular way for young people to get online, native design is critical for universities to embrace.
2. Is there a simple content management system?
It’s also critical to explore whether mobile apps integrate with an institution’s existing LMS, CMS, and academic platforms. The most effective apps will allow you to draw upon and translate existing content and resources directly into the mobile experience. My note: this is why it is worth experimenting with alternatives to LMS, such as Facebook Groups: they allow ready-to-use SIMPLE mobile interface.
3. Does it allow you to take targeted action?
At-risk or disengaged students often require more targeted communication and engagement which, if used effectively, can prevent them falling into those categories in the first place.
Unlike web-based tools, mobile apps should not only communicate information, but also generate insights and reports, highlighting key information into how students use the platform.
4. Does it offer communication and social networking opportunities?
Teenagers who grew up with chatbots and Snapchat expect instant communication to be part of any online interaction. Instead of making students toggle between the student affairs office and conversations with advisors, mobile platforms that offer in-app messaging can streamline the experience and keep users engaged.