We often associate children and smartphones – and the social media platforms upon them – with bullying but the effect of these devices on learning was this week in the spotlight.
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Finnish education expert Pasi Stahlberg was urging schools to ban them in primary schools and teach self-discipline around their use in high schools.
He was saying action was urgently needed to stem the damage smartphones were doing to learning.
The concern is not just about academic learning but about the way children are socialised.
At Bomaderry High, where smartphones are banned and access to social media through the school’s WiFi blocked, students are encouraged to put away other smart devices such as iPads during their breaks.
The idea is to encourage them to actually rather than virtually engage with each other – to have face-to-face conversations, establish eye contact and learn the nuances of human interaction.
This is a good thing.
Even us adults who have come to smartphones later in life can easily become addicted to their devices.
Our moments of inactivity are too often filled by the device at hand. Our fear of missing out draws us to Facebook, where our news feeds confirm we are indeed missing out.
Photos of the social gatherings to which we were not invited, the ideal children we do not have, the holidays and lavish meals we cannot afford, the houses we do not own – the platform that’s meant to connect us all actually sets us apart. If us adults find that hard to swallow imagine what it’s like for kids.
A colleague decided some time ago to take the Facebook app off her smartphone.
She reports she no longer worries about what other people are doing or what they think.
She is more engaged in face-to-face conversations and importantly more observant about the world around her. Rather than pick up the smartphone in a quiet moment, she casts an eye around the environment in which she finds herself.
The mindless scrolling through her Facebook news feed has been replaced by mindfulness.
She hasn’t abandoned her smartphone entirely but has become a lot smarter about how she uses it.
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