What is Digital wellbeing and how do we promote it?
Digital wellbeing is being a confident and competent user of modern technology whilst also being equipped to flourish in life. We pride ourselves on this not being unique to our Wellbeing lessons but spanning across a number of areas in the College, from discussing ways to managing the demands of a busy work schedule, to relaxing, as well as embracing compassionate relationships with friends and family.
All staff support our learners by discussing and acknowledging challenges surrounding the use of the “digital devices”. Whilst the aim of using digital technology is focused on becoming digitally literate, digital learning at MCM has also evolved to empower pupils to be mindful of their technology use and to support them in establishing a healthy balance of device use,
As such digital wellbeing is explored through Digital Citizenship, which includes Social media usage and online presence, effective screen-time use and balancing digital usage, as well as promotin good digital habits.
As a parent I can identify with the comment and frustration that siblings can spend too much time on their devices and are not engaged with their surroundings. Whilst this is supported by certain sections of the media who emphasize research such as Raja, R. & Nagasubramani, P. (2018) who suggest that “Being ever-connected to the online world has resulted in lack of focus and concentration in academics”. This is a complex subject and a balanced view should be sought, as can be highlighted by Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2017) “moderate use of digital technology is not intrinsically harmful and may be advantageous in a connected world.” Their 2017 research surveyed 120,000 15 years olds in the UK and the results may surprise some. In testing the digital “Goldilocks hypothesis” they concluded that there is a tipping point where moderate becomes overuse, varying between weekdays and weekends (from 3hrs 41 minutes to 4hrs 17 minutes during the week playing games and watching video, increasing to 3hrs 35 minutes to 4hrs 50 minutes at weekends) and only after these time periods would overuse have a negative effect on wellbeing.
Whilst this is certainly not a one size fits all model and times would vary for younger pupils, one of our focal points with pupils is on creating content (being active) rather than mindless consumption (passively) using their iPad, MacBook or Smartphone. The temptation can be to pacify oneself with YouTube video and Social Media, endlessly scrolling, or allow ourselves to be distracted by digital technology by a stream of notifications. As such wellbeing lessons, assemblies, form times and many other conversations will continue to focus on how pupils utilise their screen-time effectively, by using built in screen timers on their apple devices and empowering our pupils to limit their own screen-time.
Having said that a 2019 paper published by Ulrik Lyngs named “putting self control at the centre of digital wellbeing” outlines a number of digital self-control tools that can be used, which we have discussed and suggest to all pupils.
Feedback from a recent Screen time assembly delivered to the Sixth form:
Upper Sixth pupil –
“I am more conscious of my screen time since the assembly and I have spent less time on my phone and in particular social media. I decided to use a digital timer (Forest App) during my IB mock preparations, as well as deleting my social media Apps, which helped reduce my distractions when I was revising.
Digital citizenship and creativity
Digi dudes launched last month in both the Prep and Senior School activity program, following the whole school migration to the Google platform. The main aim is to embrace pupils’ passion for creativity whilst, also educating themselves and other members of the community about digital technology. Google’s wellbeing page states “we believe technology should improve life, not distract from it” which is central to the digital wellbeing aim of MCM, and supporting the pupils in developing their toolkit to support learning. All three groups have been researching and focusing on what makes a good digital citizen.
Feedback from a sixth form girl, who created this poster to share with prep school pupils:
“When I first heard about ‘digital citizenship’ during one Digi Dudes session, I had no idea what it was. I found out more about it from aeseducation.com; it concisely explains what ‘digital citizenship’ means, as well as providing guidance on how to teach it to students. Nevertheless, I figured that this website is not suitable for a younger audience as it is made for teaching purposes. Hence, this motivates me to create a simple poster that can help a younger audience to grasp what it means to be a digital citizen.”
Digital habits at home
Good digital habits start in the home and we aim to get the wider MCM community to achieve a balance within their digital well being. We have spoken about mechanisms by which we can control our use of digital technology, which centres around forming good habits. The graphic below indicates some of those key behaviours in which we can help to create good study habits at school.
What action can we all take?
In January we introduced the Common Sense Media Educator programme to all staff at MCM. Common Sense media resources are being used in wellbeing lessons, tutor times and assemblies to support pupil and staff understanding of some of the challenges that can surround the use of digital technology. The links below will give you a better idea of where you can start or add to the ways in which you already support your child with their digital wellbeing.
MCM is invested in good quality research to guide our policies, as well as the conversation with parents about the needs of the pupil. The Common Sense media website also focuses on a number of aspects of digital research and helps to explain how all of our digital habits are changing.
Google has also launched an online support program called “Be internet awesome”. It covers the fundamentals of digital citizenship, as well as a game called Interland which challenges children across a range of levels throughout this online adventure.
Media Mentor Month:
MMM is in its 3rd year and focussing on conversation between adults and children on how to use their devices responsibly. Please view the March Media Month calendar which is taken from Keri Lee Beasley website “Tip of the Iceberg” which contains a wealth of information about positive parenting, teaching and use of digital technology. https://kerileebeasley.com/. Her views are very balanced and well researched, and I particularly like her blog post on Media Mentors, not Media Police. https://kerileebeasley.com/2018/02/14/media-mentors-not-media-police/
I hope you enjoy March Media Month and that it inspires you to balance digital use in your family and further conversation about digital wellbeing.