Many of these changes are positive. Technology enables us to vary the way teachers engage students in learning, as well as provide students with real-time feedback and assessment on their learning. School communication with parents has been streamlined and timelier through the use of email and various social media tools. Cell phones have added an element of safety and convenience, as parents and children have a readily accessible means of contacting one another.
That being said, technology has also added an element of complexity to school life that did not exist in 1981. As experts from a variety of fields have noted, smartphones and social media are at the heart of this complexity. Many good articles have been written during the past several months outlining the growing body of research on the impact of these tools on family life and children. Two that I found particularly useful appeared during the holidays in The Globe and Mail: I am including them here in case you missed them.
The first article by Ira Wells
, an educator at the University of Toronto, acknowledges that parents are correct in feeling deeply anxious about the impact of smartphones on their children. Wells advises parents to be as intentional with the management of smartphones as they are in other aspects of their children’s lives. The second article
, which is much lengthier and rooted in scientific studies, provides an excellent overview of how smartphones have diminished the way we think and interact with others.
As I have indicated in this space in previous editions, we have taken a number of steps this year to curb the use of smartphones in the school. For the most part, these changes have been well-received. As part of our planning for next year, we too will be studying the research I have shared with you and looking at what further guidelines need to be in place to support the best interests of our students.
The start of a new year is a good time for families to act in a similar manner. Hopefully, these shared articles might prompt your family to discuss changes they could make to ensure technology enhances, rather than disrupts the quality of family time in your home.