Digital Devices

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Teachers Want Technology But Gaps Remain

While 64% of teachers say schools should emphasize teaching technology, only 32% say students are actively using technology to create things or perform data analysis, according to a survey of 2000 K-12 teachers from PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum, eSchool News reports. Student access to technology is one key bottleneck, and about half of teachers note that their students lack either a device or internet access at home.

One District Declares No Tech Days

One New Jersey school district is mandating that teachers and students abstain from using any technology, including school-issued Chromebooks, for four days during the school year. Teachers say on tech-free days they'll use card and board games as well as outdoor activities to keep students engaged. Is this an idea for your district? What about a home version of a “No Tech” day?

The Pros and Cons of Using Technology at School – A Parent Perspective

According to an article in the Utah’s The Daily Herald, some parents in the state are pushing back against efforts to integrate more technology into classrooms, citing concerns over technology addiction and worries about students' data privacy. One parent’s conflict with the local district began when they received an email that their child in middle school was allowed to bring a digital device to school because a teacher wanted students to use it for a quiz game. The school had devices available for those who needed, but the parent commented that her son felt singled out because he was the only one without a cellphone. Other parents complain that money being put into technology is money that isn’t going to find and train good teachers. What is the balance? What is your experience at your school?

Less Screen Time Equals Better Cognition

A child’s cognitive abilities can be improved by getting 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night, having at least an hour of daily physical activity and limiting screen time to less than two hours per day, a major study has found. The study assessed the behavior of 4,500 children, ages 8 to 11, and looked at their sleep schedules, how much time they spend on digital devices, and the amount they exercised. Researchers analyzed how those factors affected the children’s mental abilities, and found that only 5% of children living in the United States met all three recommendations. 63% of children spent more than two hours a day on digital devices, failing to meet the screen-time limit.

Amazon Adds New Kid Friendly Features to Alexa Enabled Devices

Amazon has unveiled several new features for children on Alexa-enabled devices, including Kid Podcasts, Kid Routines and Kid Activity Skills. The features are designed to help with morning and after-school routines, and they include new podcasts such as "Brains On," "Story Pirates" and "Ear Snacks." Amazon’s Kid Activity Skills are also getting a revamp in this latest update, and will now feature offerings such as Train Like an AvengerAnimal WorkoutOregon TrailStar Wars Missions and Animal Rescue.

School Issued Devices a Plus Survey Shows

A recent study shows that students who are issued devices from their schools are more likely to use them for school-related tasks such as e-mailing questions to teachers, taking notes in class and collaborating with classmates, according the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Speak Up CEO Julie Evans cites research showing that for many students, emailing teachers with questions helps alleviate anxiety,. “It isn’t as if they need the teacher to respond to them in that moment,” Evans says. “It’s more that they want to share the problem with someone.” Of the students surveyed, 60% of those with school-issued devices reported e-mailing questions to teachers, whereas for students not assigned devices, only 42% reported e-mailing with their teachers.

Get to Know Apple’s New Parental Controls

If you have been looking for ways to manage the time your kids spend on their phone, Apple’s recent operating system update, iOS 12, has a feature called Screen Time that might have just what you're looking for. As with any parental controls, they're best used along with guidance and ongoing conversations to help your kids learn to manage their own media use, but Screen Time lets you see exactly how much time your kids spend on their phones and tablets, the times of day they're most active, and which apps they use the most. You can also set app time limits, filter inappropriate content, and schedule "downtime" -- basically, shut down the device -- whenever you want. It’s a great way to stay in check with how much time you spend connected to your device.

France Bans Cell Phones Until Grade 9

France has banned smartphone use in school, except when assigned by the teacher, for grades one through nine. “If we want to prepare children in the 21st century, we must give them the tools of modernity: mastery of math, of general culture, the ability to flourish in social relationships, a capacity to discuss with others, to understand and respect others and then very strong digital skills,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. “It’s a message we send to society: Do not always be on your phones.” Only time will tell how successful such a ban will be, but anecdotal feedback indicates the students are talking more to each other.

Digital Devices and The Brain

Scientific American online recently posted an article summarizing some of the latest research on how digital devices affect the brain. Although people who multitask online are ultimately less effective at navigating between tasks, findings also show that multitasking does not alter our brains. They also suggest that although video games and brain training influence aggression and cognitive performance, the extent of that influence is much less than many would think. What is the best way to counteract any negative influences of violent games? Go and do something that doesn’t involve digital devices. And here is something to consider for schools and parents: the risks of digital devices can be minimized by educating people on enhanced concentration techniques, self-control and critical-thinking skills.

Why is Working on a Computer All Day So Exhausting?

It is uncertain why working on a computer all day long is so physically exhausting, although studies point to a couple of possibilities, writes Brian Resnick for Vox. One hypothesis is that the mental energy used sitting still in front of a computer has a draining effect on our bodies. Another theory suggests that tension caused by being drawn to the things we want to do (scrolling Instagram or reading blogs, for instance), rather than the things we have to do could is the cause of fatigue, and could very well explain the struggle of trying to get homework done!