According to a new study, American children average 7.5 hours per day using some type of electronic device, and 11 hours worth crammed into that 7.5 if you include texting and multitasking.
“I feel like my days would be boring without it,” said Francisco Sepulveda, a 14-year-old Bronx eighth grader who uses his smart phone to surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music — and send or receive about 500 texts a day.
My first thought every time I see a student texting is: “What in the world do they have to say every minute?” When I ask my students they just giggle and say “nothing” or “just stuff,” which to me signals that they are talking about nothing. I asked my 1st period students if I was right, and they basically confirmed it.
Of course, we see the effects of all this media immersion:
[The study] found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades…[and] other studies have established a link between screen time and obesity.
While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school.
While the effects of the students’ immersion into media seem to be commonsense reasoning or just a predictable conclusion, it also confirms that students have taken to their plugged in lifestyles more and more meaning that unplugging them me be impossible. As teachers, we may just have to accept that our students will be forever after connected.
I do tend to think sometimes that we need a major media outage like in The Cable Guy with Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick where the TVs go out, and one character reaches for a book. Of course, now it would be a Kindle.