In the present era, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced learners and teachers to move towards online educational practices for ensuring continuity of academic progress and completion of the syllabus. There are multiple benefits of online learning; however, it is drastically increasing the screen time for students which can harm their focus and health. In this regard, it is the duty of the teachers to mitigate the issues caused by increased screen-time.
What is Screen-time?
The term ‘Screen Time’ can be understood as the period that an individual spends before the screen watching TV, working on a computer or playing video games. Screen time is considered to be a sedentary activity, which means, individuals are physically inactive while they are sitting in front of the screen, and being inactive for a prolonged period can harm their health.
Issues related to Increasing Screen Time
Following are the key issues related to increasing screen time:
· Extensive strain on eyes and other parts of the body
· Sleep deprivation
· Being susceptible to chronic health diseases
· Risk of losing cognitive ability
· Social skill impairment
· Delayed learning ability
· Weakened emotions and judgment
Recommendations for mitigating Issues related to Increasing Screen Time
It is to be noted that adolescent students are at greater risk of developing unhealthy habits and the rise of virtual learning is putting students at the risk of encountering the aforementioned issues. As a teacher, you can implement the following recommendations:
Teachers should plan for activities that students can complete offline and present online for reducing screen time: Governing bodies need to mandate specific time limits for online classes per day and the teachers need to administer these limits. In this regard, teachers should ensure that students who have logged in to the learning portal need to spend the whole time listening to the lecture. Thus, time spent outside online classes should be spent in hands-on activities, which involve physical exercise. The students can present the outcomes of the activity online once they complete the same. This will provide the student with time to develop their assignments in offline mode which will ensure a reduction in screen time. Students can complete their homework offline mode by completing the manual worksheet and hand-written assignments.
Provide frequent breaks to the students in extended synchronous study sessions: It is essential that the teachers provide the students with frequent breaks to keep them focused and engaged. Inspiring students to take breaks during online classes by ensuring they get offline can reduce students’ screen time. Additionally, students tend to get bored and uninterested during the long synchronous session. Thus, it is essential to provide extra breaks in between subjects’ lessons and inspire them to stretch and move around. This practice will not only reduce the screen time for the students but also ensure that they are not exposed to the risk of obesity and other physical issues. Scavenger hunts can be proposed by the teacher in which students can look around the house for finding specific materials. This will not only keep the students away from the screen but also ensure that they are engaged in physical and learning activities.
Bifurcate the period of online classes into smaller sessions: It can be highly awkward for the teachers to pass the online time in which they are virtually silent for the students. During this time, the teachers can propose the students go offline while they are working on the assigned tasks. Generally, teachers begin the lesson with an introduction and explain the relevant topics, after which the students need to work. This work can be completed offline so that the screen time for the students can be reduced. Additionally, class structure often stays the same in online classes for students; thus, dividing the class into small periods with small groups can allow the teachers to control the screen time of students in a collaborative manner. This will ensure teachers provide teachings to all the students without drastically increasing their screen time.
Propose your school to facilitate curbside pickup materials for educational materials: Another method to reduce the time spent on the screen is to provide educational materials to the students which they would get in offline classes. These materials can include base blocks, play money, puzzles, and counters for elementary classes. Parents can pick these materials from the school itself and engage their wards with educational materials. This will not only ensure that the students stay away from the screen but also keep them busy in educational activities. Generally, such material is available at school; thus, it will not add to the incurred cost, instead, it will help the teachers in teaching the students with hands-on strategies.
Overall, it has been deduced that screen time for students has increased drastically due to the sudden need for virtual education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This increased screen time has caused multiple issues which are listed above. For mitigation of the listed issues, the teachers need to take a step as it is their duty to protect the students from developing unhealthy habits during online education and otherwise too.
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