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Is technology overuse hijacking our children’s brains?

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Joe Clement, teacher and author of “Screen Schooled” says overuse of technology is dangerous for young people.

A Chantilly, VA High School teacher says technology overuse and smart phones are making kids less intelligent.


JOE CLEMENT: When you give a cellphone to a young person, you're giving them infinite entertainment in their pocket. And then you add this tool to them that can obviously be very powerful, but it's also a tremendous distraction. That's a recipe for disaster in a classroom.

My name is Joe Clement and I am a public school teacher. I've been teaching high school for, this is my 30th year. And I have written a book with a co-teacher named Matt Miles and it’s called “Screen Schooled.” The initial intent was to explain what we had discovered about why there was this decline in the ability of young people to solve problems, to think critically, to focus, to interact socially.

People talk about the idea of multitasking and students aren't multitasking. What we've found over time is that what they're doing is what we call multi-switching. They have attention on the teacher, then they have attention on their phone and then they have attention on the teacher and they have attention on the phone. There's no continuity. But also in things like our young people today work less, they're involved in fewer extracurricular activities. They're dating less than generations that come before. And all of that is because the social media app on your phones is a substitute and it's a much lower risk connection than putting yourself out there in real life.

JOE CLEMENT: My wife, Molly, and I have three kids. We have tried to be as low tech as possible. We've decided that cell phones are not going to be part of their lives until they get to an age, you know, certainly into high school.

MOLLY CLEMENT: My daughter has a playdate over here, the kids know, you're gonna go and play on the creek path, and you're gonna play on the playground, and you're going to get dirty, and we're going to bake and you're going to color and play Barbies. And that's what we do in our home.

ANNA CLEMENT: My favorite thing to do? Um, probably between play with my friends or just like, sit down and like with a good book and just read. Some my friends do use some phones, which I don't really like because there really isn't anything to do on a phone. It's just, you're gonna like, look on YouTube and stuff and I don't really think that's important, it doesn't have anything to do. I would rather like do something like be outside, or like, be doing something that doesn't involve being on a screen.

JOE CLEMENT: So when it comes to parental expectations, and what to expect in terms of cell phones in school, I would like to see a de-emphasis on the use of phones during the school day. My main piece of advice if you're if you're gonna get your kid a phone is to not text them during the school day, not communicate with your kid during the school day. And if you have any kind of monitoring device, monitor. Look, they're on social media, they're on Netflix, they're on pornography, they're playing video games all day long.

The biggest thing that we have to think about that I think we don't, is opportunity cost. What are kids not doing when they're on their phones? And what we know the 2022 Common Sense Media study says that teenagers are on their phones for over eight and a half hours a day, not at school. And what else could they be doing for that eight and a half hours? They could be taking a walk outside, they could be hanging out with their friends.


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