Screen time guidelines for students; by Anirudh Khaitan Treasurer, FICCI ARISE; Vice Chairman, Khaitan Public
The coronavirus pandemic and the unprecedented measures taken worldwide to contain its spread are indeed disrupting nearly every aspect of children’s lives: their health, development, learning, behaviour, and mental health. Many of the parents with increased professional and household responsibilities have been experiencing emotional and mental pressures due to the lockdown situation especially with juggling work and household responsibilities.
During this crisis, Educators have responded in stride and are trying their best in finding new ways to keep children learning by developing online and offline learning materials, including for physical exercise, to help improve children’s physical strength, health, and mental wellbeing during the school closures. Virtual classrooms are not to transact curriculum but to exhibit care and build an effective relationship with the students and add that rhythm, routine, and rituals that provide the necessary cognitive comfort to growing brains.
There has been a lot going around about the increase in screen time for students and its negative impact on them. We cannot simply classify online education into good or bad Placing restrictions on timings without analysing the effect on learning continuity will have an adverse impact on students' development. There are several myths around online learning that need to be broken and policymakers must recognize that productive screen time is not only desirable but a necessity in such times.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, the screen time where an adult is on the other side engaging children in the process of learning cannot be viewed as harmful. It is not the screen time that matters but the content that is consumed and the context of it that affects one’s well-being. It is therefore imperative to make a distinction between productive and unproductive screen time. Furthermore, currently, there is no scientific evidence that screen time causes long term damage to the eyes. In the short term, it can cause dryness and irritation, which can be dealt with by doing some simple exercises.
Here are some of the screen time guidelines for students:-
1. Parents must ensure that only age-appropriate applications are installed in the device that the child uses. It is also imperative to have parental control on the device to restrict exposure to certain content
2. In the case of a shared device, a unique login for the child needs to be created
3. Suggested screen time:-
a. Pre-primary to classes 1-2: 2-2.5 hours with sufficient breaks synchronous, plus 1
hour of asynchronous plus 20-30 minutes one-on-one
b. Classes 3,4,5: 3 hrs with sufficient breaks synchronous, 1 hour of asynchronous
plus 20-30 minutes one-on-one
c. Classes 6 and above: 4-5 hours synchronous; 1-2 hrs of asynchronous plus 20-30
With adherence to the government directives and expert recommendations, FICCI ARISE has prepared a functional framework that could be followed by schools in order to make the most of online learning efforts from Pre-primary to class Xll.
4. The size of the screen matters, a laptop, and computer at an arm's length distance is intermediate and are therefore more suitable as against a tablet, book or mobile phone held close to the eyes
5. Frequent blinks and the position of the laptop and maintaining adequate brightness in the room, the right posture is necessary
Technology is not good or bad it’s what we do with it. In these unprecedented times, technology is no longer a luxury but a necessity. There are many educators in schools that have tasted the success of how technology has been effective in delivering learning outcomes. More importantly, it is important to not go by narratives that are being disseminated without questioning them. It is crucial to go across and get scientific evidence-based responses to address the fears and concerns of the parents and students.