What is a typical use of screens?
Most of us have become somewhat reliant on their devices, and so using them has become quite typical. Young children are given screen time to watch educational shows and to play educational games; older kids and teens attend classes, complete homework assignments, work on collaborative projects, and play games. It is also common for teens to use devices for chatting with their friends and keeping up with the latest social media trends.
When should I be concerned about a student’s excessive use of screens?
Excessive use of screens is a common cause of concern of many adults. But how much is problematic? Teachers should take the child’s or teen’s age, the reasons they are using technology (e.g., completing an assignment versus gaming or using social media), and their individual needs when taking screen use into account.
Here are some signs that students may be developing a problem:
- Interference with everyday school activities. When explicit or hidden screen use interferes with paying attention in class, or completing assignments.
- Behavioral troubles. Aggression, irritability, or frustration when teachers attempt to correct inappropriate screen use in class.
- Emotional troubles. Noticeable sadness, withdrawal, or nervousness when offline, or preoccupation with being back online.
- Social troubles. When screen use interferes with age-appropriate socializing, such as looking at screens instead of hanging out with classmates and friends.
- Loss of interest in other activities. When screen use results in a noticeable loss of interest in other extracurricular activities in school, such as athletic, artistic, and social endeavors.
What can I do to help a student with excessive use of screens?
There are a few things teachers can do to children and teens who attempt to use technology in the classroom:
- Lead by example. Actions can be louder than words. Teachers should avoid using their devices while in the classroom or when with students.
- Set clear rules about screen use in the classroom. If necessary, teachers can talk to the student, or to the whole class about the rules on screen use in the classroom, as well as the consequences of breaking the rules.
- Bring the concerns to a caregiver’s attention. A student’s caregivers need to know of anything concerning occurring in school. Caregivers may also be able to identify if concerns are present outside of school.
- Seek help from a school mental health professional. In general excessive technology use is a challenge to extinguish in the classroom, particularly if occurring regularly. Support from a school mental health professional might be warranted in many situations.
- Seek support. With a caregiver’s permission, teachers may consult other professionals who specialize in helping children with behavioral difficulties.
Pediatricians or family physicians can help to address initial concerns and refer to specialized professionals. Also, whenever possible, a consultation with a mental health professional may be helpful.
The public system provides services through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY).
Where to find more information
Specific, detailed, and clinical information on excessive screen use can be found at [clinical short guide at the program website].
If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.
You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.