Students need more access to devices outside the classroom.

Students spend too much time on screens.

Both statements have been made in this digital age. But what do principals, those who spend time with students from multiple grades, think?

How to Create A BALANCE OF Device UsAGE in the Classroom

Two out of three principals say students spend the right amount of time using screens at school, according to an Education Week Research Center survey of over 500 principals, assistant principals, and school deans. Principals, in particular, support screen use for research-based projects.

But not all students agree about the ‘right level’ of tech usage; 19 percent say they don’t spend enough time on devices in class. When broken down by grade levels, even the principals have varying opinions:

  • 22 percent of elementary principals said students don’t spend enough time in school on devices with screens.
  • 23 percent of high school principals said in-school screen time is too much.

Some educators believe students need to use technology more in the younger grades, to prepare for high school and beyond. Such as Monti Hillis, the Principal of a Tennessee elementary school who said, “To be where they need to be as 4th and 5th graders, they have to have the regular usage earlier.”

Others believe students need more face-to-face interaction, and less screens at those younger ages. One state in particular may be taking action.

According to an article by The New York Times, “Maryland could become the first state to address parental concerns about computer screen time for children in the classroom.” Legislation would require the development of health and safety practices in regards to digital device usage inside the classroom. A few health recommendations include: leave devices inside during recess, tell students to take breaks from screens every 20 minutes, and limit computer usage to half a day for high schoolers.

If the Governor doesn’t sign or veto this before May 28, it will become a law, possibly creating a model for schools across the nation.

The original health concern about screen time focused on entertainment such as video games or TV, but as device use in schools continues to grow, some pediatricians and parents want action. Parents have asked Apple to develop tools to help parents manage their children’s devices.

Managing Device Use in the Classroom

It’s not all bad news. There are tools available to manage devices in a way that promotes safe, collaborative classroom learning.

Mobile device management (MDM) provides the total oversight into student device usage, across multiple operating systems (OS): Android, ChromeOS, iOS, and macOS. Administrators can set profiles based on grade level, which can:

  • Set time-based profiles that adjust for school hours vs. at home.
  • Filter web browsers for safe Internet searching.
  • Lock devices to enforce “eyes-up” when in the classroom.
  • Block applications from download.
  • Remotely install education-appropriate applications.

Kajeet partners with Mobile Guardian to provide an MDM solution that can provide peace of mind for principals. See the MDM dashboard for yourself with a live tour from a Kajeet Education specialist.

Parents can also revel in the same peace of mind. The Mobile Guardian MDM includes a parent portal that allows parents to limit screen time, track devices, and restrict their child’s device from accessing inappropriate content.

And the MDM goes beyond the classroom walls. Which is critical as 95 percent of principals who believe students spend too much time using screens at home.

Screen Time at Home

When students leave school campus for the day, they could have access to a device (school-issued or from home), and free range to the vast Internet with limited adult supervision.

Principals’ main concern is social media usage, according to the survey. The following stats reveal the percentage of principals who are extremely concerned about student social media use outside of school:

  • 48 percent of elementary school principals.
  • 78 percent of middle school principals.
  • 59 percent of high school principals.

One Missouri school requires students to complete a social media curriculum via Common Sense Media before they can bring devices home.

Many school districts have turned their focus to teaching students how to be good digital citizens and determine what is real vs. fake on the Internet. The Education Week report reveals, “Four states, Connecticut, Maine, Utah, and Washington, have passed bills to promote digital citizenship education in K-12 schools.”

An MDM also helps reduce off-campus concerns by filtering the web and blocking apps, such as social media apps. Stricter profiles can be set to ensure student device usage is even safer once they are outside of the school room and no longer under the watchful eye of teachers.

As technology continues to be a main part of children’s lives, principals are excited to try new tech tools, while cautious about too much screen time. It is important to embrace technology, but ensure there is a balance in–and out–of the classroom.