Many parents worry about their children’s use of technology, and it’s true that too much screen time can lead to harm, including obesity, sleep disorders, behavioral problems, and academic troubles. Unfortunately, children from 8 years old to 18 spend over seven hours a day staring at a screen, and adults spend even more time, averaging more than 11 hours a day. What does this mean for your children when schools are embracing technology?
There Are Benefits to Classroom Technology
Although, you have good cause to worry about the content your children are absorbing while on phones and other digital devices, you probably don’t have to worry as much about the technology at use in the schools. There are important reasons for educators to use a variety of technology in and out of the classroom, including teaching children safe internet etiquette, preparing students for a tech-heavy future, and increasing efficiency throughout the school. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions, however.
Ask Questions for Specific Information
Schedule some time to meet with the teacher to discuss the classroom use of technology. Ask the teacher which programs are used in the classroom. You might ask how much time children spend in front of a screen. Find out if there are filters and other online safety tools in use. What type of access will each child have to technology? How do devices and programs directly reinforce learning? In some schools, teachers involve parent volunteers to supervise and help children during computer time. Signing up to volunteer is a great way to get firsthand knowledge.
Understand All Technology in Front of Students
Of course, some technology is used in the classroom that students don’t personally handle. Teachers in many early childhood programs may have smart whiteboards in the classroom. These tools may be used to introduce students to famous landmarks, cultural destinations, or famous individuals. The key to using technology effectively is to protect the interactions and relationships between students and their teachers. Whether children have one-on-one experiences with a tablet or they are communicating with an author as a whole class, the activities should support teaching and learning that happens between teachers and students.
Look Up Facts, Statistics, and Reviews of Software
No matter how computers, devices, and software are used in your school, spend some time looking up how well those tools do their jobs. For example, i-Ready Math and i-Ready Reading, used in elementary and middle schools, offer online lessons, learning games, and tools for teachers. They were built with a solid research base and have efficacy studies to show they work in helping students achieve learning gains. As a parent, you can influence the type of technology in use at your child’s school by researching the various tools and understanding the pros and cons of each resource. For example, if your child’s teacher has sent home a note about online games used in the classroom, check those games out for yourself. If the parent-teacher group is hosting an i-Ready Math Night, show up and get as much information as possible.
Increase Your Own Involvement
As a parent, it’s important to be vigilant regarding your child’s use of technology and the internet. This is as true for screen time at school as it is for screen time at home. Reach out to teachers and administrators to gather information. Do your own research regarding the software and programs used in your child’s classrooms. When possible, observe the resources in use. There’s no question that technology is going to be a big part of the future. You and your child need to be prepared to face an increased presence of technology in all walks of life. Do what you can to understand how your child is affected today.