Digital tools can enrich, but is there a downside to too much screen time? Some pediatricians and parents are now raising concerns about the classroom laptops, tablets and apps, partly because school districts are adopting digital tools in droves.
Last year, primary and secondary schools in the United States spent $5.4 billion on 12.4 million laptop and tablet computers, according to International Data Corporation, a market research firm known as IDC. “The concern is that many programs students use in school are entertainment and gamified,” said Dr. Scott Krugman, a pediatrician in Baltimore County, who supported recently proposed state legislation that would develop optimum health and safety practices for the use of digital devices in schools. “We felt these are things that should be tracked and monitored.”
Baltimore County Schools also recommended that students take activity breaks from computer tasks every 20 minutes and leave their devices inside during recess. They may even have to play and talk with each other. Hmmm, old school, I guess?
Before there was Facebook and Twitter (I do remember), people would actually talk to each other face-to-face. They were not as concerned about the number of retweets or likes they received on social media (there was none). Maybe they just wanted to have a few close friends or family members that they could always count on to be around whenever they needed them, or just wanted to enjoy each other’s company. In our virtual world of today when can choose to be connected to our friends and family whenever, and in whatever ways we choose. But living in the virtual world full time may actually deprive us of having a longer life. Feeling isolated and disconnected from the real world can actually make us sick.
Recent research suggests that being unpopular (in the real world) can be hazardous to our health. In fact, it might even kill us. Yet most don’t realize that there’s more than one type of popularity and social media may not supply the one that makes us feel good. This same research also reveals that there is more than one type of popularity, and most of us may be investing in the wrong kind. We can be popular by simply being likeable. Likeability reflects kindness, benevolent leadership and selfless, prosocial behavior. This same research suggests that this form of popularity offers lifelong advantages, and leads to relationships that confer the greatest health benefits. We may be built by evolution to care deeply about popularity, but it’s up to us to chose the nature of the relationships we want with our peers. It may also mean that we step away from Twitter once in a while.
May we all live long and prosper in real time. 🖖