Expert Calls for Reconsidering Children's Screen-Time
UniSC's Associate Professor of Education, Michael Nagel, has highlighted a documented link between excessive screen and internet use and adverse academic outcomes.
"It may surprise many to know that countries with less screen and online time achieve better academic outcomes in international testing," he explained.
Moreover, he pointed out the growing body of evidence suggesting that screen time can negatively impact various aspects of child and adolescent development, potentially even affecting the developing brain in ways not yet fully understood..
“The correlation between phone use and diminishing social skills in children and teens is prolific. The more time a young person spends on a phone, the less time they spend honing emotional and relational skill sets.”
Advocating for a community-negotiated approach to learning and living, Dr Nagel shared his longstanding support for schools that have already implemented phone bans, emphasising that there are no compelling educational reasons to have phones on school premises and numerous reasons against it.
"First, they are a major distraction and far too difficult for teachers to manage during the day-to-day rigour of school endeavour," he noted.
Dr Nagel also pointed out the role of smartphones as tools for cyberbullying and relational aggression, especially among adolescent girls. The opportunity for such harmful behaviors is reduced by eliminating phone use in schools.
"Banning phones means students will engage in real-time with one another more regularly," he added. "The correlation between phone use and diminishing social skills in children and teens is prolific. The more time a young person spends on a phone, the less time they spend honing emotional and relational skill sets."
Addressing concerns about child safety, Dr Nagel argued that while phones can provide comfort to parents, the availability of admin offices with phones in schools should suffice during school hours.
The education expert urged parents and students to recognise the benefits of reduced screen time, calling for a broader 'screen-time rethink' highlighting the need for collaborative efforts to create balanced environments that foster healthy child development and learning experiences.
As the debate on screen time continues, educators, parents, and policymakers will undoubtedly grapple with finding the right approach to strike a harmonious balance between technology use and child development in today's digital age.