The potential impact of ICTs on children’s health and happiness is a matter of growing public concern – and an area that is ripe for further research and data.

– Children in a Digital World (UNICEF)

Copyright Activision, obtained from Wikipedia: Call of Duty 2.

My first year of university I spent countless hours playing Call of Duty online with a group of friends. I didn’t know their faces, but I did know their voices and we spend most evenings every week reenacting all the famous WWII battles. As you might imagine, spending hours online playing Call of Duty wasn’t overly helpful in my studies that first year (unfortunately, I wasn’t taking any classes featuring WWII history as portrayed in 2005 video games), so as I entered my second year I quit, cold turkey. I never really figured out how to balance my school life with my gaming life and my grades suffered as a result. I had no guidance on how to find this balance and that showed.

Now, as a technology learning coach, I’m constantly having conversations with parents about gaming and screen time. Every week I hear questions like: my child is addicted to their iPhone – what should I do? or how much time should I let my child game every day? or how can I get my child off their computer at home?

None of those questions are easy to answer – every parent and child are different and every approach should be catered for them. However, I usually try to reiterate the idea of balance. The UNICEF Children in a Digital World report mentioned “the ‘Goldilocks’ approach to children’s screen time – not too much, not too little” – something I haven’t heard yet, but sounded intriguing. My Google Scholar research lead me to an article from the journal Psychological Science titled “A Large-Scale Test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis: Quantifying the Relations Between Digital-Screen Use and the Mental Well-Being of Adolescents,” by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein (PDF link for those interested). Przybylski and Weinstein obtained evidence that the links between digital-screen time and mental well-being are described by quadratic functions.

Scientific American summarized and graphed their findings quite nicely:

How do we teach this?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that part out. Teaching digital citizenship isn’t something too new – Common Sense Media’s K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum has been around for almost 10 years now and is my go to for digital citizenship ideas and inspiration. However, it isn’t perfect and it doesn’t fit every school’s context all the time.

At YIS we are currently rethinking our approach to digital citizenship. Over the past few months we’ve been meeting with grade level teams to discuss what digital citizenship (and just citizenship) looks like in their classes and what’s missing so we can help construct our next steps. Our conversations are based on three guiding statements that we constructed (based on the ISTE Digital Citizen indicators from the Standards for Students):

  • Students cultivate and manage their identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the interconnected world.
  • Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior with an awareness of how they affect communities locally and globally
  • Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

So far, the conversations have been insightful as our teachers describe how their students develop as global citizens – I work with amazing teachers and it’s wonderful to hear them share how they are shaping young people.

I’m sure I’ll share how things are progressing later in my COETAIL journey – stay tuned!