As promised, I wanted to provide some additional context on mobile devices as a result of our recent shift towards no smartphone usage during the regular school day. 

Since smartphones and other mobile devices have gotten "cheaper" and more accessible, there is increased debate on the amount of time students spent looking at screens. Some of this has to do with opportunity cost: the time students spend on devices comes at the expense of other opportunities, like exercise, outdoor activity, and reading. But this limits the conversation to the quantity of time spent on screens, so to speak, and not on the quality of time.

I will admit that I have been enthusiastic about the proliferation of educational software and other mobile applications in recent years, especially throughout the pandemic. Mobile devices can be valuable instructional tools if used properly. Many of us, however, have not had the time to catch up with all the latest tools and tricks.

The conversation recently shifted. Mobile devices are what they are and they are here to stay. It may be more important now to achieve balance between the quantity of minutes on screens and the quality of experiences and content. Now that we're starting to catch up, educators, families, and mental health professionals are more closely scrutinizing what young persons are actually doing when attached to their devices. 

Many of us don't want to seem out of touch. Generations always seem to misunderstand each other, especially when it comes to new technology. Although, this is not a debate about skinny jeans and mom jeans, or a middle versus a side part. We have real data now showing that extensive use of social media on mobile devices causes significant harm to mental health in adolescents. There are countless examples of virtual harassment leading to real-world consequences. We also know that the proliferation of notifications and reminders increase distractibility, anxiety, and cause actual changes to brain development. 

Linked below are a few articles and websites that provide additional information and can be helpful in structuring conversations you may want to have with your students.

Social Media Use Linked to Developing Depression Regardless of Personality

Cell Phones and Devices from Common Sense Media

Take Away Their Cellphones

We’re in a Loneliness Crisis: Another Reason to Get Off Our Phones

Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb