Life Bulldozed By Smart Phones:
Unchecked anxiety and overwhelm in young children is turning into depression and lack of motivation as young adults. And a lot of the confusion comes from a lot of information being thrown at them from their personal devices – smart phones, tablets, Google, Wiki, YouTube etc etc.
We’re consuming 300 times more data than we did just 10 years ago. According to newly released CDC data, in 2015, one in 8 teens aged 12 to 17 in the US has had atleast one major depression episode. According to a Common Sense Media poll, 51% of teens said they see their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving.
Teens, like us adults, are victims of the “Comparing mind”. Especially in our modern digital age, they’re constantly comparing their dull reality to the flashy online lives of their friends. Research has shown, time and again, that frequent use of digital media is associated with the development of ADHD among teens.
The Brain On Gratitude:
Thanks to neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to grow and change throughout our lives, teens can be taught to adapt the attitude of gratitude. Gratitude can help them see that they are not their inner voice and that they’re not their thoughts.
We need to equip our children with tools to process information that’s relevant and important to them. They can be taught to understand where their attention usually is, and how to direct it to what matters the most – the present moment.
State Of Affairs In The Classroom:
This is an actual email sent by a local Atlanta School Principal in March of 2020 before the pandemic began:
We need your help and support. Unfortunately, we are seeing the beginnings of “Spring Fever” here at school. Students are extremely talkative, off-task, and not completing all of their work. This is an important time in the academic year when the curriculum starts to get more demanding. Therefore, we need all students to be on-task in all subject areas and putting forth their best effort at all times.
We are going to put all 3 homerooms together on Friday morning, and have a serious talk with them. The main focus of the talk will be about the behaviors we have been seeing, and informing them that we will be enforcing stronger consequences for their actions. If you could please reinforce this at home, we would greatly appreciate it.
<Principal of a Local Public School>
How To Create A Focused Classroom:
According to a 2016 study, elementary students are distracted 26% of the time. Source: Godwin et al, 2016
Keep up with the curiosity of the kids. Let the children drive the agenda for tasks outside of the lesson plan. Encourage them to take brain breaks. (Read more HERE)
Encourage kids to collaborate in small groups and incentivize good work. If you catch them daydreaming or off task, ask them to explain, to the class, what new ideas they are thinking about.
Create an environment in class the minimizes distractions. Frequently change the seating arrangements to keep the fun element of guessing who their friends for the week are going to be in class.