Decoding 4 Screen Time Myths Impacting Online Education


Technology in education is changing and it will have a significant impact in the near future. The pandemic has led schools and parents to take advantage of online education, which in turn has increased screen time. And now, even with the return to traditional classrooms, technology continues to be an integral part of the learning process, including longer hours in front of a screen!

However, this has been a point of anxiety for many parents, as children are now exposed to longer hours of screen time, both at home and at school. These concerns are understandable, but they are not entirely true. There have been many studies on the impacts of screen use, and by digging deeper we can draw a few conclusions. The question of whether screen time is beneficial or harmful is actually the wrong one to ask, as the term “screen time” is quite broad and does not indicate how an individual uses their screen. The type of content ingested will determine whether it is beneficial or harmful to the individual.

These are the 4 Screen Time Myths, through research on the effects of screen time depending on the content and context of screen use, that can help us understand the real impact of screen time in children.

Myth #1 All screen time is the same

There are many different types of screen time – passive screen time (like just watching Netflix), gaming, social media, educational screen time all of which get put into a giant “screen time” bucket.

Why is this important? These differ greatly from each other in their quality and how they engage students, but very few articles, social media posts or WhatsApp address them separately.

Myth #2 All types of screen time (educational vs passive vs gaming vs social media) have an equally detrimental effect and need to be drastically reduced

The one type of screen time that has the least available research regarding negative effects is educational screen time. This is screen time for learning purposes, including algorithm-based individualized learning programs, educational games, instructor-led online courses like MOOCs.

Thus, while previous studies on “screen time” seem to suggest that there could be many negative effects, including negative outcomes on physiological, psychological and educational well-being (school performance, weight gain , sleep, mental health), it is very important to note that nearly all of these activities are conducted around screen time categories such as gaming, passive viewing, and social media. There is very little evidence available regarding educational screen time.

Why is this important? It’s important because when you say ALL screen time is bad and completely ignore all the massive positive gains of educational technology, it promotes popular misconceptions that often lead parents and policy makers to impose extreme limits on the use of screens in schools.

Myth #3 Screen time causes adverse physiological effects

Even for passive, gaming, and social screens, it’s important to remember that “association” isn’t the same as being responsible for them. One of the main reasons for this association is also that screen time can displace important activities such as physical movement, social play, and sleep, which in turn can have negative effects.

Why is this important? Because it means negative effects can be reduced by ensuring that healthy activities persist even when screens are used.

Myth #4 Evidence from research on screen time leaves no doubt

There are many limitations to screen time research – many different types lumped into one category, small effect sizes in research, small number of educational screen time studies. Additionally, many of the effects of screen time are measured using self-reported surveys. These are important limitations that we need to remember.

Why is this important? Because popular and social media lump them together in sensational headlines or small pieces of information that lose all that important limitation information. This often promotes misconceptions and sometimes widespread misinformation.

I’ll end with a very relevant quote from a Screen Time Literature Review: For parents and educators, we suggest that “it is time to move beyond a strong focus on risk with little exploration or recognition of opportunity,” and instead build on strengths and benefits of ST in a targeted manner while mitigating the associated risks during these times. exceptional moments.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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