Posted on 22nd March 2021 at 12:21
It is no secret that children of this generation love screens! Screens have become an integral and natural part of daily life for most young people and while they undoubtedly have many benefits, as parents we are also acutely aware of the damaging impact screens may bring and many of us are desperately trying to limit screen time for our children.
After months of home schooling and social restrictions, children in the UK have spent more time than ever on electronic devices. This has been the safest way to access education and socialise with others amid the pandemic. However research shows that children who spend a lot of time on screens are more likely to develop eye problems, weight problems and trouble with reading and writing. They are also more likely to show a range of other physical, social and mental issues.
However it is important to note that the use of screen time can't simply be categorised as 'bad'. Not all screen time is equal of course. Spending time on an educational site, watching a family film together or using using Face Time to connect with loved ones will have more benefits to a child than that child sitting alone passively watching a film for instance.
In 2019 Dr Taren Sanders did a study on children and screen time, categorising screen time in to five categories; passive, interactive, social, educational and other. While educational screen time was linked to better results in school and brought no bad health effects compared to more passive screen time, the impact as reported by Dr Sanders was "quite small". The real problems showed up in children who spent more than eight hours a day on screens.
At Marvellous Minds we appreciate that screen time can bring certain benefits and we appreciate that particularly during this challenging time of the current pandemic children will inevitably spend more time than usual on screens and parents have needed to rely on screens more to juggle the challenging demands of work, homeschooling and other chores. However, we also believe that we can help and do our bit to reduce the use of screen time in children and we know that when it comes to education and children's learning, screens will never be able to replace the human element of a really inspiring teacher.
That is why at Marvellous Minds we have decided to offer a truly screen free learning environment for the students we work with. Students at our centre are taught by tutors-not computers. In each class our students will work with one or several tutors (depending on the size of the class), using our own written learning materials. Students will be encouraged to ask questions, contribute with their answers and discuss topics with peers within the class. Our tutors are always on hand to help with whatever a student finds challenging and by keeping our classes small we allow for a individually tailored approach to our teaching. We appreciate that students learn in different ways and our tutors are committed to finding fun and engaging ways for children to learn.
Some of the learning prompts we use in our classes include alphabetic puzzles, pictures, clocks, counters, number lines, story cubes and flash cards. There are also a number of mini black and whiteboards in each of our classrooms which students are encouraged to work on. Interactive learning methods and structured teaching takes place instead of computer time.
We would love to hear your thoughts on screen time. Do you think they have their place in the classroom? And how, if at all, do you think they should be used by teachers?