In2edu I.C.T. Resources Enhancing Education & Learning

Digital Technologies Screen Time Leading to Increased Suicides?

Nothing like a good debate, and emotive headlines! 
I'm a parent now living at home without children (old enough to be grandparent but as an ex youth leader, AKA up to a year ago - still think young?), a teacher, and a digital technologies advocate. And the debate about costs and benefits of digital technologies and the values they encompass and "broadcast" via their use mean we need to keep having these sorst of debate. Our pupils should be having discussions and reflective thinking time among themselves and with their parents on these topics, encouraged as part of our Digital Technologies programmes.
More important than the skills we teach - this is the interesting debate between the differences in the Maori version of the Digital Technologies document and the English version - are the underlying values and attitudes that we are wanting to see developed in pupils. Explicit teaching of these values are difficult in a curriculum with emphasis on assessment of knowledge and skills and in time poor situations, which is why we must as teacher internalise these so well that we use incidental teachable moments constantly to back up any explicit teaching. How we model digital citizenship (including parents) is an important part of this also.
The starting point for this entry was reading an article entitled: "With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit." which is examining the links between social media, screen time and teenage health including impacts on suicide rates. The basic opinion of the article is that the the peak in 2012 of suicide rates can be linked to the length of screen time, backed up by interpretation of data from some studies. My initial comment reaction was:
"I would be interested, living in N.Z. with one the highest rates of suicide if correlation with screen time tracks country rates of suicide?I also wonder if there is a perfect storm for today’s generation, a bit like possible tipping points for climate change: increasing nuclear families, widening gaps inequality, increased social media pressures and intrusion, less church and youth group attendance (other places to learn to socialise), less involved parenting styles, increased academic pressures, increased negative talk (society, bullying) etc as well as the screen time factor. This could mean then that sudden spikes in suicide could come as all of these items gather in the minds or backgrounds of the youth of today. Can combined effects therefore have spiking effects that no-one effect is on its own responsible for. However, this also could mean that addressing one effect at a time can be a way to undo what is happening - so taking action in some way within your family is important?"

Related to pupils and screens is a speaker Nicholas Karadaras. Author, and experienced addictionologist, he is currently touring NZ under the banner of the term, "GlowScreens". His stance is that children under 10 should not be interactive with screens and that digital screens are a 'giant have' by technology companies to sell gear. He points out that Finland got to the top of PISA without a lot of Digital Technology. This was true - but remember PISA focuses on 'paper' tests and that Finland in 2017 is now restructuring their curriculum, including a very solid focus on Digital Technology. However, a good takeaway from Karadaras is that screens are addicting and that we need to watch out for the red flag of how kids react with asked to "leave" their technology for something else. If our lives are not full of other good things and interactions (physical, social, mental, spiritual) then the addictive power of screens can seriously affect the minds and spirits of young people. If a pupil has underlying learning difficulties, Nicholas Karadaras insists that difficulties of addition and problems with mind development and anti learning behaviours are more likely to occur, however other critiques of this point out the benefits of digital technologies.

What do you think? What are the impacts for us in N.Z.? How does this steer the NZ Digital Digital Technologies Curriculum? What are the values and attitudes we are teaching and modelling to our kids?

Here are the Digital Citizenship resources used within our school.

Is it all just moral panic?
Increased Screen Time Equals Suicide?
Appraisal/Critique of Above Article
Decreasing Drug Use Among Teens
Glow Kids - should kids under 10 use screens at all (Nicholas Karadaras) 13 min Youtube?
Glow Kids - should kids under 10 use screens at all (Nicholas Karadaras) 45 min Vimeo?
Glow Kids - Epidemic of our Times - AM Show
The Verge - Glow Screen Critique
Digital Heroin
Finland 2014 - top of PISA without Digital Technology
Finland and Innovation 2017
Finland Country Report on ICT in Education

Comments (2)

PD - CSER Digital Technologies Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

I signed up for the Foundation-6 Australian Digital Technologies course, sponsored in part by Google and the Australian Education Department.
This is my entry for the #cserTask1 of "Task 1: Introducing DTs".

Task 1: Introducing DTs RocketLab heads for Orbit!

A Digital Technologies solution has many parts to the whole. RocketLab in New Zealand is in the final parts of testing its 3D printed carbon composite Electron rocket, with the aim of becoming the foremost rocket launching entity in the world from one of its launchpads in Mahia. Rocket Lab is a private company, with major investors including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Data Collective, Promus Ventures, Lockheed Martin and K1W1, illustrating the first point of collaboration.
Collaboration both within a business (its people and administration structures) and outside (with other business partners) is an important way to bring success to a company in today's interconnected world.  Security of your data and information as it crosses the world is vital within this collaboration, but today it is possible to have different parts of your team working in different physical locations, all contributing to a project. Digital Technologies: Skyping, shared screen conferencing, collaborative documentation (eg Google Suite, Project Management) etc. all contribute to the success of a project like this.
RocketLab is seeking to provide fast and affordable payload deployment, in a way that no other firm delivers payloads and 3D Printing is an important part of this. By using 3D Printing the business can have an efficient and affordable design process from ideas to design to testing through to reiteration.
RocketLabs employs a wide range of jobs with the needs for Digital Technologies related qualifications and skills such as: Structural/Electrical/Mechanical/Electronics engineers, Designers,  Website Developers, Testers (Quality Control is a wide range of areas), Communications Specialists, Graphic Designers, Media specialists, a wide range of programmers over different coding languages, a range of networking positions, Systems Specialists, as well as management of all these aspects.
In their most recent test flight, RocketLab completed a post flight analysis to ascertain where faults could be addressed and improvements made, this follows any good design thinking process or computational process where problems are broken down and data is analysed to find solutions so that the next flight can be more successful.
Check out a look at the launch site in Mahia with the Electron rocket ready to go.
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