Tina Wu

As smartphones and tablets become an inexplicable part of one’s childhood, it is inevitable that the amount of ‘screen time’ for children has increased in an educational setting.

Many educators believe that screens can act as a distraction for children in the classroom, particularly with the proliferation of laptop computers for study purposes. Away from the eyes of teachers, students can surf the web or log onto social media during class time with no repercussions.

In 2015, the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics also found that the test scores for 16-year-old students increased by 6.4 per cent after a number of schools banned mobile phone usage in the classroom in England, sparking widespread debate regarding the banning of screen-based technologies in schools.

In a study conducted by the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego in 2016, scientists found that 10-day-old mice that were exposed to “excessive” audio-visual stimulation displayed signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impairing their learning and memory abilities. These findings suggest that screen time can adversely alter the cognitive development of toddlers and children. 

In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommend for children younger than 18 months not to be exposed to any screens except video-chatting, and in Australia, screen time is not recommended at all for children under 2 years old.

However, the positives of screen-time in educational settings cannot be denied. The Victorian Department of Education and Training says that screens can supply invaluable learning opportunities for children by providing educational programs, or chances to address children with special needs.

Moreover, the use of technology in an educational setting can also inspire creativity, collaboration and innovation, skills that are important in our rapidly expanding global sphere.

Further, some make the argument that the educational system has worked through many technological advancements and upheavals throughout history – such as the switch from ink to pencil – and that the incorporation of screens into the classroom is one of the many inevitable changes in society with which the educational system must keep up.