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11 June 2021

posted 10 Jun 2021, 19:37 by Carolyn Brett
I want to talk about screen time. I often hark back to the middle ages of the 1980s in my Social Psychology classes when I became fascinated by Pavlov's dogs and behaviourist theory. I'm not a believer in experiments with our furry friends at all but it's something I think of when I reach for my phone... to check.... to check what? Half the time, I don't need to check anything. Surely if something was urgent I'd hear a ring right? There have been moments when I have 'hidden' my phone under a cushion... (didn't work - wonder why!) Over time, my self-regulation around the habitual phone scroll has improved, I'm pleased.... but I wouldn't say I'm completely functioning at mastery level...... yet!

Now to our children. I certainly have a "no phone on the table and don't try and hide it on your knee!" rule. It drives me crazy in social or work settings. At school, we also deal with some of the issues many of you will no doubt experience at home. The genie is well out of the bottle when it comes to the use of digital technologies for aspects of learning and will no doubt continue the trajectory. There are many benefits for learning, and I don't know where we would've been over lockdown if the use of technology wasn't so prevalent, however we need to be on top of supporting our children's digital lives as best we might. I'm sure many of you, like us at school, have noticed indicators of excessive screen time. The following indicate if a child is spending too much time online or even starting to develop a screen addiction:
  • They become agitated or anxious when they cannot get online.
  • They can be aggressive or agitated when they come offline.
  • Their sleep is adversely affected by their screen use.
  • School learning is suffering.
  • They cannot stop using their device, even when it is appropriate, ie. when talking to people or at the dinner table.
  • They start to neglect things they previously loved such as reading, sports, etc.
(from Principals Today magazine)
We work on a balance at school and the use of digital devices slowly grows over the 6 years here. Along with this, there needs to be firm lines in the sand, boundaries, agreements and education, and, importantly, the use of the word "no!" (and mean it!) 

Please let us help each other by not giving in and allowing too much screen time at home. These growing brains are too precious.

(To summarize, the Pavlov's Dogs experiment - it's all about classical conditioning which involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response (ie. a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response.)