Internet addiction is possibly serious and needs clarification and additional study for people to understand the impact on children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. There is substantial disagreement about whether Internet addiction is a new psychological disorder or the manifestation of another disorder, how it is measured, and how prevalent it is. There is also some uncertainty about what Internet addiction is, given the many things that can be done on the Internet (such as watching videos, playing games, or using social media or being meaningfully engaged in a school or work project). Focusing on the amount of time online is controversial, given that children and adults alike are connected all the time and given the variety of activities taking place in online environments. To find this balance we need to remind ourselves and our children that screen time limits need to apply and face to face conversations are an essential thousand year old technology!
Our digital lifestyles, which include frequent multitasking, may be harming our ability to remain focused. Part of the concern around being constantly connected through technology and media revolves around how we multitask among different forms of media and between media and real life. Media multitasking is very common among children and adults, even though there is ongoing concern over how it affects our abilities to pay attention and avoid distraction. By implication we could easily be doing more, less effectively as well as ignoring our surroundings (real life). Once again a balance needs to be found as to what is valuable and necessary online and what is a mere distraction. In our school environment we are completely directed towards utilising the wonderful power that technology can bring to learning. Games or ‘Gamification’ that we use at BISB is directly related to the learning at hand, is engaging and has positive outcomes. One has just to consider the value of a collaborative project using a Google Doc or strengthening basic number skills in a different way using the ‘Hit the Button’ app on an iPad to understand the value of what can be achieved.
Media and technology use is a source of tension for some families. In an environment where people are frequently using and checking devices, research has pointed to conflicts that arise in families when individuals are distracted by media and technology use and are not giving their full attention to other family members.
We will continue exploring this and other areas in the next two weeks as we discuss how to best use technology in our school and in the wider context of our family life.