Classroom Technology

Students Are Addicted to Screens. What It Means for Learning

By Lauraine Langreo — December 16, 2022 2 min read
Teenage boy laying on the floor in a living room watching a video on his handheld device, tablet.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

How much time kids spend staring at digital screens is not a new concern. But with more and more school work being done online, worries about the impact on student well-being are rising.

Average screen use for kids ages 8 to 18 rose sharply—by 17 percent—from 2019 to 2021, according to a survey released earlier this year by Common Sense Media.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 2 to 5 spend no more than an hour a day looking at any sort of digital screen. But the AAP does not specify time limits for school or recreational use for older school-age children.

The impact that the increased screen time will likely have on K-12 students’ development and social skills is yet to be seen. And educators have to weigh the potential benefits of expanded use of digital devices against the potentially negative effects of increased screen time.

Here’s a collection of articles Education Week has published on screen time and its effects on student behavior and academic performance.


How much screen time is too much?

High school students in Coral Gables, Fla., work together on a tablet during a history class.

Two experts talked to Education Week about how worried educators should be about all the time students spend looking at a Chromebook, iPad, or cellphone screen, especially if it’s followed by hours of television or video games.

A meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that more overall time on screens each day, regardless of its quality, is linked to lower language development.

Other research findings have also raised questions about what effect all this digital use could have on students’ reading skills.


Screen time’s link to bad behavior, low test scores

Close up of student's hands on their desk in the classroom and holding a smartphone

Teachers say they see the effects of heightened digital exposure in the classroom. A majority of educators said students’ learning challenges rose along with their increased screen time and that student behavior worsened with more screen time, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey.

Here’s what some principals had to say about how the proliferation of digital devices are affecting students, teachers, and school life in general.


How to manage students’ screen time

Young Black boy working on his laptop and wearing headphones.

In this downloadable guide, teachers and remote-learning experts provide nine easy ways to find a healthy balance of on-screen and off-screen time for students.


The role of media literacy

Fake News concept with gray words 'fact' in row and single bold word 'fake' highlighted by black magnifying glass on blue background

Because students are spending more time online, they’re also coming into contact with more misinformation and advertising, which have been supercharged by big data and algorithms. In turn, there’s a growing push to teach media literacy skills in schools to help students navigate these challenges. New Jersey could be the first to require public schools to teach media literacy skills.

Other media literacy advocates are also encouraging parents and teachers to start early in teaching kids how to be more responsible online. Waiting until later in elementary school—or even middle or high school—puts children at a disadvantage, educators say.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology What Educators Need to Know About AI’s Impact on Black Students
Four experts weigh the balance between providing access to AI and protecting students from its dangers.
3 min read
Teacher Helping Female Pupil Line Of High School Students Working at Screens In Computer Class
iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology Q&A Google Executive: What AI Can and Can't Do for Teachers
Jennie Magiera, Google's head of education impact, discusses the role AI should have in K-12 education.
8 min read
Close-up stock photograph showing a touchscreen monitor with a woman’s hand looking at responses being asked by an AI chatbot.
E+
Classroom Technology What Drones Are Doing to Deliver Better Student Engagement
Working with drones can motivate students, as well as teach skills like coding, collaboration, and problem-solving.
2 min read
The view over the shoulder of a high school student while he is holding a drone with the camera image showing on a laptop sitting on a nearby chair.
E+/Getty
Classroom Technology 3 Tips for Using Tech to Meet All Students' Needs
Technology is everywhere in most classrooms, but equitable access to it for all students still isn’t a reality.
2 min read
Photo of elementary school students using laptops in class.
iStock