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Benefits of screen time in schools
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2014 10:41 AM

There's no denying we live in a digital world. Many people carry smartphones and have laptops and tablets in their bags. In this universe where everyone connects via technological devices, discerning between screen time that has a positive effect and that which has a negative effect is difficult. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, children who spent a week away from their devices at a summer camp were better at reading emotion than kids who did not get the hiatus. Though the study does not necessarily prove screen time decreases emotional competency, it does make a case that practice is important. 

Is there a scenario in which spending time with technology doesn't detract from other areas of life, but actually enriches it? It's an important question, considering the Common Core State Standards increase technology use in schools. Students spend more time in front of a computer now than in years past. Fortunately, screen time can be a good thing. 

Teaching research skills
Students have to learn how to research information, as it's a skill they'll use in college and their careers. Many young students attending tech-savvy schools learn from a young age how to find credible sources of information when browsing the Internet. By learning how to use the Web from a trusted adult (their teacher), students gain the skills they'll need to sift through loads of information and find the relevant bits. 

"It's all about how things are used. And how much they're used. And what they're used for," Patricia Greenfield, professor of psychology at UCLA who co-authored the screen-time study, told NPR.

Learn Internet safety and etiquette 
Using technology and the Internet in school also gives students a place to learn safety tips. For instance, teachers can guide students about what is appropriate to share on a public forum and what is not. Kids can learn how to be involved in the digital world in a smart and engaged way. When students go home and use social media and other websites, they'll have a better sense of what it means to be a citizen of the Internet.

Opens opportunities
Unfortunately, not all students can travel to China to see the Great Wall or study animals in their natural habitat, but technology does open some doors. Devices and programs allow students to take digital tours of foreign lands, study the anatomy of a mammal and discover history all while sitting in the classroom.