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Tech & Science Tech, mate. PISA throws spotlight on rising teen screen time

09:16  08 december  2019
09:16  08 december  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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It counters claims that teenagers ' mental and physical health could be damaged by excessive screen time . Even just before bedtime, being online, gaming or watching TV is not damaging to young people's mental health, study authors said. They questioned the methodology of previous studies.

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Excessive screen time has probably contributed to countries including Australia recording lower marks in PISA, the world's largest assessment of reading, mathematics and science, says Andrew Pierpoint.

And managing students' internet use is among the hardest tasks of principals, the Australian Secondary Principals' Association president said.

"Students don't have the time to read like they used to, or engage in additional study," Mr Pierpoint said.

"We need to think about how kids learn today, not how kids used to learn. What students do today is significantly different to how they behaved five, 10 years ago, yet curriculum and teaching practices are not."

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PISA is not much older than the 15-year-olds it tests. When the OECD planned the test in the late `90s, just 1.7 per cent of the world’s population used the internet and students trusted what they read in encyclopaedias.

The 2018 PISA, released last week, showed students globally spend three hours online outside of school, and almost 3½ hours online on weekend days. This was an hour longer than they reported in 2012. It is recommended that young people spend no more than two hours a day sitting in front of a small screen.

"Today, 15-year-olds report reading less for leisure and more for practical purposes," the OECD's report said.

"They read fewer books, magazines or newspapers, and use online formats such as chats, online news or websites containing practical information.

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Only 5% sleep, exercise and screen time guidelines, with sleep and screen findings linked to drop-off in cognitive skills.

The WHO is concerned less about screen time than kids being inactive for long periods of time . It also recommends that infants and toddlers not be any sort of Set Limits: Have a timer of overall screen time that all screens fit into. TV, phones, video games, and the rest should be timed out, and once

"Furthermore, in 2018, more students said they considered reading a 'waste of time' (up 5 percentage points on average across OECD countries) and fewer students read for enjoyment (minus 5 percentage points) than their counterparts did in 2009."

Amanda Third, an expert on young people's technology use, said time online figures were not a good measure of engagement and there was clear literature showing good use of technology enhanced student learning.

"There are a lot of forces that demonise technology and pit it against learning outcomes," the University of Western Sydney Associate Professor said.

"Most teachers are attuned to the possible problems associated with distraction in the classrooms," she said. "What's more difficult for teachers to do is not only regulate but also create value to the learning process."

Pasi Sahlberg, professor of education policy at the Gonski Institute for Education, said an OECD report on 2015 PISA data found there was "actually slight negative correlation between computer use and learning."

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Screen time can have such an intense effect on the brain that, even after we turn off the TV or other device, the brain keeps firing as if it were still watching it. That’s why screen time at night can affect the quality of sleep or the ability to fall asleep, even after turning it off. Parents can lead by example within

"This is, as they explain, probably due to inappropriate use of computers for learning."

A study by the Gonski Institute this year found three of five teachers in Australia said there had been a clear decline in students' readiness to learn, and four of five teachers reported that technology was a growing distraction to students.

"I think we need much more detailed and specific research, consideration and conversations about how the rather heavy use of media and digital technology among young people today changes their readiness and ability to learn well in school complex concepts and issues as mathematics, science and complicated texts," Professor Sahlberg said.

Associate Professor Third said adults needed to model good reading practices.

"When adults read the paper or a book on a device it’s not always clear to children that they are reading. We need to be explicit with kids about what we are doing on our device."

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