Hacking Your Students’ Screen Time Obsession

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Listen to “53-Entice Kids to Confront Their Phone Obsession and Actually Look Up…AT YOU…Starring Nahom Buckles” on Spreaker.

It’s so discouraging! You’re preaching the gospel of education, enlightenment, self-improvement, promoting humanities’ greatest ideas, but then you notice that many kids are staring intently down at their laps. Unfortunately, you know why.

They need to put that sweet pair of shoes on their Amazon Wishlist before you notice this screen time obsession and redirect them.

As a contemporary instructor, I’ve felt this profound burn. I’ll bet you have too. Some teachers are totally hard-nosed. They don’t give the kids an inch on phone use during instruction. If that’s you…RESPECT! However I, like I suspect many teachers, am not so stern when it comes to students and their phones.

Plus, kids are darned adept at subtle screen time.

And let’s not forget, students can use their devices in class in the pursuit of knowledge. While I’m uncomfortable with prohibition, I’d certainly love to see kids to stare at their phones less during strategic moments of instruction.

Nahom Buckles

I promote enlightenment over prohibition. I do this with the Moment Screen Time Tracker App. As I explain in the show, I’m more comfortable giving students tools and information, have them apply it to their existence, and then hope it makes an impact. The Moment Screen Time Tracker App tracks daily screen time. Of course, I applied it to myself first.

I’ve read various stats pertaining to average daily phone use. Most data pegs usage at around 4 hours! That seemed exorbitant till I started measuring my usage. I was horrified! Check out March 31st:

At least April 3rd wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, I’d only been awake for 30 minutes!

I knew darned well that I had to expose my kids to this app. We were working through a unit on Buddhism. I was particularly interested in kids applying the concepts of non-attachment and impermanence to their lives. Our first blog prompt was on burning a mandala they drew on a square sheet of paper. Our second prompt promoted the Moment App.

Appearing on the Hacking Engagement episode above is a wonderful young man, named Nahom Buckles. Nahom will talk about how this student-led learning activity was enlightening and potentially transformative. Please don’t think this lesson must be limited to social studies.

I’ll bet with a little thought you could easily work a screen time obsession prompt into your curriculum!

The Problem

Your kids are obsessed with their phones.

The Solution

Enlighten them about the extent of this obsession with the InTheMoment App.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Download the app and track your screen time.
  2. Create a prompt based on your curriculum.
  3. Challenge students to track their phone use for 1 week.

Perhaps, a great way to manage screen time addiction is simple awareness. While it might not convert all your students, I’ll wager that many of your students, like Nahom, will become determined to make changes!

Author: James Sturtevant

James Alan Sturtevant has taught in Delaware County, in Central Ohio, for over three decades. His first book, You’ve Gotta Connect, details how teachers can build essential relationships with students. He has appeared on many popular podcasts and authored guest posts on Edutopia, the Huffington Post, and Principal Leadership. Sturtevant remains committed to helping teachers forge strong relationships with kids, but his true passion is student engagement. With his new book and podcast, Hacking Engagement, he helps educators create classrooms and schools that captivate kids and empower them to learn.