Technology has a variety of benefits, particularly for remote learners. Unfortunately, too much of it is not only hard on your vision, but your brain as well. The advanced learning tools and addictive qualities behind our screens make them our most beneficial and also our most detrimental resource when it comes to homeschooling. Being at home all day can be boring and students will want to entertain themselves in their free time; but how much screen time is too much? Let’s highlight some key effects of technology when it is used in excess.
The Social Effect
Letting homeschooled students to express themselves online will allow them to become comfortable with electronic communication on a professional level and even encourage them to get involved within the remote community. It is important to maintain social skills while remote learning since it is easy in that environment to retreat inwards or get lost in your studies. However, if students aren’t mindful of their usage there may come a point when the brain becomes more comfortable with electronic contact than actual in-person contact. Becoming dependent on technology is quite easy when you have so much free time outside of learning. This dependency will lead to less and less of a desire for human interaction, and as a result, social development will suffer. Not to mention, cyberbullying can be rampant, particularly when students have too much free time. So, how can you avoid this? As a parent, limit your child’s screen time, get them to go outdoors, pull out a board game, or get them to help with dinner, anything to keep the brain active and productive. As a student, hold yourself accountable. Set a timer for screen-time and stick to it.
The Emotional & Behavioral Effect
In 2010, a group of researchers discovered that more than two hours a day in front of a screen led to an increased probability of psychological, emotional, and even behavioral issues. When the brain is being consumed with too much technology, students may experience trouble focusing where it matters most since they will be eager to get back to their screens. Students may also experience memory loss and can even display aggressive tendencies when away from their screens. Developing an addiction to the internet or online games (particularly violent ones) affects the portion of the brain that is responsible for compassion, empathy, impulse control, and planning and executive functions. So, while technology is a necessity for online learning, limiting exposure is key in minimizing the stress on this section of the brain.
The Biological Effect
Despite its eco-friendliness, blue light has a dark side as well. Screens emit a certain blue light that can disrupt the body’s biological clock and affect sleep patterns. Staring too long at a screen, particularly in the dark can cause young people to have trouble getting to sleep. This is because the blue light tricks the brain into being awake, even late at night. This fact is the reason the most fulfilling sleep is achieved in a room with a little light as possible. If you have to work at night, try using red lights since they are less likely to disrupt circadian rhythm or suppress melatonin (sleep hormone) production. Blue light glasses are another tool that many people find helpful. They are designed to block the light rays from your eyes and may even minimize headaches associated with frequently having to be in front of a screen while remote learning. You should also shut down access to all technology at least two hours before bed and avoid looking at your phone during this time. Turning your phone face down on your nightstand so it doesn’t light up the room at any point is a good tip.
The Creative Effect
Real-life play is pivotal in the development of creative as well as problem-solving skills. When your brain is consumed with the digital world, the technology is controlling your experience and squandering your unique imagination. It is important for children to take part in activities and have experiences that encourage them to branch out creatively and that also foster the usage of their fine and gross motor skills. These activities will also allow them to have healthy and normal debates with other young people which will aid in decision making and problem-solving. A lack of group socialization replaced with an excess of technology is detrimental since the child isn’t thinking for themselves but is instead being told what should be on their brain. Remote learning should provide an environment that promotes real-life play. This can be in the form of charades, putting together a puzzle, or even hide-and-seek. The goal is to keep the brain active and not stagnant in order to facilitate creativity.
The Educational Effect
It goes without saying that too much technology can also have an adverse effect on learning. Studies show that children who have televisions in their bedrooms test lower since these screens are much more difficult to regulate than, say, a living room screen. It is not necessarily the television itself, but the amount the child’s brain is exposed to it. The best route is to avoid temptation and keep screens in common areas where the entire family hangs out as opposed to the child’s bedroom where they may stay up late at night and hurt their eyes and brain with an excess of harmful blue light. A brain under pressure and deprived of sleep will not perform well in school. Children need to have as little distractions in their learning environment as possible and free time should have a limit as well.
The Physical Effect
An excess of screen time is not only psychologically damaging but physically harmful as well. Too much time invested in technology is linked to a higher BMI (body mass index) in young people, which leads to many children suffering from obesity and the variety of health issues that come along with it. Studies also note higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels in children who spend too much time in front of a screen. Becoming attached to a laptop, tablet, or phone can cause children to be lazy and thus highly susceptible to falling into unhealthy habits. When investing too much of their brain into technology, children might be tempted to snack on easy-to-grab unhealthy foods such as chips or other packaged treats. When consumed with their favorite media, getting a child to sit down and eat a proper meal may prove to be quite the feat since they will want to get back to their screen as quickly as possible.
As you can see, technology is highly addictive, but it doesn’t have to consume the brain. Making the conscious effort to close the laptop, turn off the tablet, or put the phone away for a bit to get outside or even spend time with family indoors will make all of the difference in the long run. Technology is essential when remote learning, but usage regulation and self-control on the part of the student are key. Setting boundaries and holding yourself accountable will prevent the screens in your home from distracting you from what’s important; allowing you to have a clear mind and be more focused when it comes to your studies. Remember, brain breaks are essential, but too much free time with a screen can be detrimental