For the first time in history, humans are operating in an internet of everything (IoE) era. The implications are twofold.
On the one hand, we’re better able to manage learning disruptions during national crises and global pandemics using digital tools. Then again, the sheer amount of screen time our students are seeing is having a pronounced impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing.
As with anything in life, the key to wellness is striking a proper balance. Teachers who want to help guide students in fostering healthy digital boundaries can start with these.
What is Digital Wellness?
It goes by many names. But once you experience it, it’s a state you won’t soon forget.
Here’s what educators are ultimately aiming for, says Jisc, a UK-based nonprofit:
“The capacity to look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings; to use digital tools in pursuit of personal goals (e.g. health and fitness) and to participate in social and community activities; to act safely and responsibly in digital environments; to negotiate and resolve conflict; to manage digital workload, overload and distraction; to act with concern for the human and natural environment when using digital tools.”
Who could ask for anything more? Now, here’s a framework from Neo LMS to help you achieve it.
1. Reinforce digital awareness at home.
Balancing the digital and IRL doesn’t stop once you leave the classroom. Educate parents on the digital wellness lessons you’re teaching in class and give them the resources they need to help students stay consistent at home. Those might include instructions on how to set parental controls on their devices or adopting their own health boundaries so they can always be leading by example.
One easy place to start? The dinner table. Make it a technology-free zone and think of some meaningful questions you can ask one another to create a more intentional space. You might even pick up a card game with conversation starters to help you break the ice and better connect.
2. Encourage students to monitor their screen time.
After this season of remote learning, spending endless hours online during and after school may feel normalized for students. Educating them on the negative impacts of screen time can be really informative in helping them create new, healthy habits.
For example, too much screen time can lead to obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety and lower test scores in children, according to experts. Suggest that students keep a log of how long they’re online and document how they feel during and after. The goal is to encourage them to gradually curb the number of hours they spend online when not doing something essential like schoolwork.
3. Develop a digital decorum.
How you act online matters. The sooner this is impressed upon students the better. Just like saying please and thank you in public, our online personas need to be equally respectful. Google’s Be Internet Awesome: Mind your tone practices are a great age-appropriate tool for younger internet users.
Teaching children to be good digital citizens is as much about modifying their own behavior as it is knowing how to engage with internet trolls or respond to online bullying. Make sure they’re aware of how to report inappropriate behavior or content.
And speaking of inappropriate content, help them understand the implications of having a permanent digital footprint and why the things they post are likely to follow them forever.
4. Prioritize online safety.
Children have such a limited view of the world, they aren’t always aware of dangerous situations. Teens are known to take risks, their partially developed brains always seeming to get them into trouble. Both are recipes for disaster when it comes to online safety.
Expand their awareness so they know how to spot scams and phishing attempts, avoid downloading files that could be infected with malware, stay aware of how their data is being tracked, and who to report suspicious activity to.
Digital wellness is a 24/7, 365 activity – not just a class time exercise. Most of us are destined for a lifelong relationship with technology. Developing healthy habits now ensures students have the skills they need to digitally engage in intentional ways throughout their lifespan.