Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

Monitoring technology use in schools


February 14, 2019

As adults, we hear a lot of talk about how all the technology our teens are exposed to is having detrimental affects. At Hot Springs County schools, some steps are being taken in an attempt to curb some of the effects things like smartphones and the internet are having on our children’s learning.

High school principal, Breez Daniels said, “We are still trying to get the same message out this year about cell phones that we started sharing last school year. It is a challenge because our students are fairly addicted to their phones, social media and all aspects of being on technology.”

The district has added an application that allows teachers to see a student’s screen when they are on their chromebooks and logged into the internet.

This allows the teachers to monitor what the students are doing, making sure they are staying on task in the classroom. Daniels said this is a common program used in other districts and something our teachers have been asking for for a long time.

“Our primary goal is that while students are in the classroom they are on task with the learning activities assigned by the teacher and not distracted by technology, either school tech or personal tech,” Daniels added.

Just having their phone in their back pocket on the vibrate setting isn’t enough. Every time that phone vibrates, it breaks their concentration.

Asking students to put their phones completely away isn’t asking too much.

For instance, when you go to a concert, you’re asked to put your phone on silent or turn it off. An ad at the movie theatre asks you to put your phone on silent.

“There are many instances in everyday life where we are expected to put our phones away and school is one of those places,” Daniels said. “Learning is the priority during the school day.”

Ultimately, they would like to see students leave their cell phones in their lockers during class, but they also aren’t going to check their pockets to see if they have them, either.

Books over internet

Teachers have been asked to have a plan in place when students are finished early with an assignment in the classroom, and that plan is reading.

If a student finishes a test early, they should be pulling out a book of their choice and reading until the bell rings. If they did this for a few minutes at the end of every class they will have spent approximately 30 minutes each day reading for pleasure.

Studies have shown that the use of electronics – cell phones, Internet – affects how we store information.

If it is all at your fingertips, then you don’t have to remember it, you don’t have to write it down. It eliminates the responsibility of memory.

Past generations had to use their memory for verbally passing on information to others. They wrote books to remember their history. This generation is unlike any other in that all of this information is stored in a 5x7-inch device they can carry in their hand.

The move toward encouraging reading over the internet has an immediate impact on students (and adults).

For instance, reading creates mental stimulation and reduces stress. Reading a book gives you knowledge that you store in your memory, either about facts and figures or the characters in the book.

Reading not only expands your vocabulary, but is shown to improve the memory, create stronger analytical thinking skills and improves focus, concentration and writing skills.

Best of all, its free entertainment.

That’s not to say that all interaction on electronics is a bad thing.

In fact, this generation has a completely different way of interacting with each other through social media sites like messenger, snapchat and others.

Studies have shown that students who keep in touch with each other on these social platforms are more empathetic. The connections they have with their friends is making them more aware of what their friends are doing or feeling.

For example, when we were young and a friend was home sick from school, we didn’t really think much about it. Parents were going to take care of it. Maybe we would call them after dinner, but that’s about it.

These days, as soon as a friend doesn’t show up for school, all their friends are messaging them to see if they’re all right. Some are ordering food to be delivered to their friends to help them feel better.

Granted, some are losing the ability to decode non-verbal emotional clues, but it has been discovered that just putting the electronics away for a few days, having face-to-face interactions with others brings that ability back very quickly.

It is sometimes hard for parents to have the “electronics” talk with their children, but it is a discussion that each family should have.


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