By KellyAnn Bonnell, MA
According to recent reports, US kids consume 20 hours a week in media content. They often do this across as many as five different screens. So what does this mean for education professionals serving children and youth? Well, it could mean several things. It might mean that kids aren’t spending as much time in front of media as they are in the classroom. After all, the typical school day is 6 hours long so kids spend 30 hours a week in school. Perhaps it means that kids spending 30 hours a week in child care and 30 hours a week in school are then spending another 20 hours a week in front of a screen? Or is that screen time happening during school or child care?
Regardless of how you choose to look at it the simple fact of the matter is that kids are spending a good chunk of their waking hours in front of a screen and the experiences they are having there are molding their preferences in other experiences. Sure we could argue that it means we need to control it better. It really doesn’t matter what we think about it. The question now is what can we learn from it.
Screen time has appeal to kids. If we can unravel what that appeal is perhaps we can create classrooms and out of school time learning environments that will entice them away from screens. So why do they like media?
They have the choice. Kids can pick what they want to do or watch and if they lose interest they can move on to something else. What kinds of choices do you give kids in your learning spaces?
They have a voice. Online communities that cater specifically to kids allow them to have an impact on their world. Whether its choosing how Club Penguin will donate funds in the real world or helping create the rules in an online affinity space, kids are used to their voices being heard when they interact with a screen. How do you allow their voices to be heard in your learning spaces?
They are engaged. The media kids consume is something that is interesting to them and that engages them. It talks about things that are important to them. It speaks their language. What do you do in your learning spaces to engage kids?