Worried about Screen Time?

The world is moving towards a fast-paced Digital World and in less than 5 years Artificial Intelligence and Robots would occupy predominant space in all walks of life including Education. Science and Technology is the new future of the world. Meantime, there is a big 'Irony'. Most of us are worried about the 'Screen Time' when it comes to students especially the younger ones between the 4 – 11 age group. With the online /virtual classes that have become the 'new normal' in education with the COVID-19 Pandemic wave, parents and teachers around the world are petrified imagining the adverse effect that the screen time can bring in.

Is it that harmful? Or Are we 'overstating' and going with the group. The University of California reports that the worry should be more about 'what the kids are not doing' while looking at the screen, than kids 'looking at the screen'. Experts categorize the Screen Time -Active Screen Time and Passive Screen Time. Now, what is that? The adjectives are self-explanatory. Active Screen time demands cognitive thinking from the students and the brain is active and Passive Screen Time is when the brain does absolutely nothing or the intention of the screen time zeros down to 'whiling away', aimlessly. Certain studies call them 'Productive' and 'Unproductive' Screen time too and the explanation remains the same. Active/Productive Screen time demands developmental benefits associated with the cognitive (thinking) aspects and of course, the online classes that the students are in, directly fall under this category of Screen Time.

To second the reports from the University of California, The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, UK, University of Michigan, and The Canadian Pediatric society also conclude on similar findings of Screen Time. The focus should be on 'How the children use them' than 'How much time they spend on

them' from a socio-emotional point of view. Children cognitively respond to active online learning which incites their creativity element, rather than listening to the lecture method of teaching which doesn't suit any education for that matter (physical, virtual or blended). Schools and educators have a bigger responsibility in this regard. Meanwhile, active parent involvement and oversight is an essential ingredient towards the discretion of active and passive screen time, starting from modeling active screen time, spending time with the children to recap their screen time learning, developing a firmer habit of reducing the use of screen beyond the active ones, etc.

Gone are the days we focus on creating 'Global Citizens'. Now with the advent of 2nd wave of Information Technology and the 4th wave of the Industrial revolution, the stakeholders should focus more on creating 'Global yet, Digitally Aware Citizens'. In this endeavor, our mission shouldn't be preventing them from screen time, but to orient and educate them on 'how to use it productively'.

Less worried about Screen Time?

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