Parents and teachers alike are sometimes worried that kids and students are spending far too much time looking at screens, and far too little time actually learning and reading. Naturally, the value of a screen depends on what is being displayed, but parents and teachers have a point. Children almost always expect to see smartphones and devices as sources of entertainment, and will oftentimes interpret screens used as educational tools as no more than entertainment with poorer quality.
The solution to this problem requires some creative thinking along with adults willing to give kids some room to experiment. Everyone is headed for the same destination. We just have different ways of getting there.
Children are naturally creative. This is one of the reasons why they are drawn to screens in the first place. Games, animation, and the freedom of choice are the three things screens give them. What adults should do in order to channel those interests productively is show kids how to be creative without a screen.
What if students could learn to make games and animation themselves? What if they were allowed to discover new things without looking them up first? Such experiences could inspire them to try newer, potentially greater things.
Much emphasis has been put on STEM education of late, otherwise known as a combination of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The biggest obstacle to these subjects is the fact that not all adults understand them, and even fewer can describe how to use electronic devices in order to effectively teach them.
Computer programming is a great example of this. Educators have placed a decent amount of value on teaching children how to “code.” Meanwhile, there are only five states with an official computer curriculum in the United States. How can children use screens productively if they provide no educational value?
Electronic books were invented decades ago, but were recently perfected within the last 10-15 years. It is now possible to carry the contents of an elementary school library around in a device the size of an actual book. How many educational institutions are taking advantage of this technology? If students and kids were looking at a screen with quality reading material on it, would that be preferable to random videos and distractions? How might carrying hundreds of books around all day change the life of the average elementary or junior high school student?
Screens are becoming an increasingly important aspect of education. Given how much smartphones and tablets are being used throughout the world on a daily basis, it’s only fitting that they become integral parts of the classroom. It is then up to educators and parents to ensure that what is being displayed on those screens is beneficial for the growth and development of the children using them.