Sunday, February 23, 2014

Teens and Screens

When pondering the week 6 assignments, the reading I found myself returning to was the S. Craig Watkins excerpt from The Young and the Digital. In the chapter entitled "May I have your attention?," Watkins brings up the intriguing notion of attention deficit trait (ADT). The simple explanation of ADT is that the more inputs and outputs people have, the more irritable and distracted they become. As Watkins connects ADT to the attitudes of students in the classroom, he ends his argument by pointing out that many young people have no sense of boundaries between their leisure and nonleisure areas. Knowing that I will work in a school setting as a teacher-librarian, I often wonder how this erosion of boundaries will affect the next generation of learners, and how I will approach their literacy needs.

In looking up supplemental articles, I came across a story from The Digital Shift website (which is from School Library Journal) called "Teen Conducts Her Own Study on Screen Time's Effect." The piece tells about a 17 year old student named Zarin Rahman, who noticed that continual use of screens for extended periods affected "her mood and school work." Upon this discovery, Ms. Rahman set out to prove some kind of correlation between screen time use and lack of sleep. The article sums up her process: 

"Rahman launched a scientific research project, testing a random group 67 of students between the ages of 13 to 18, comparing their screen time use against sleep depravation (SIC) and stress. She read through literature published on the topics and chose survey subjects who were Internet users, not on medication and with no history of mental disabilities or disorders, she says. Students in the study self reported their sleep time. The findings rang true to what she suspected — that increased recreational screen time had a correlating affect with lack of sleep and stress."

While many will argue the validity of a high school science project, I believe this young lady's insight to be an encouraging sign for her generation. Although she is young, Ms. Rahman has noticed that the way she was approaching technology had an affect on how she behaved. And much like Watkin's piece, Zarin did not completely blame or negate technology, she just used the results to modify her own behaviors. “I now limit my own recreational screen time because I know it has a subsequent affect,” she says.  “Where I maybe spent five to five and a half per day, is now dramatically down to two hours at most.”

L. Barack, "Teen Conducts her Own Study on Screen Time's Effects" from The Digital Shift

S. Craig Watkins, "'May I have your attention?' The consequences of anytime, anywhere technology," in The Young and the Digital (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009), pp. 171-191.

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