Tackling 'tablet addiction'

Following on his from his talk at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference, Colin Kinney explores the impact that children’s tablet usage is having in schools.
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
techplay.jpg

In March 2014, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) organised a meeting on using computer tablets in the classroom.

I left the meeting really enthused and eager to integrate this technology into my teaching. I believe it’s one of the most exciting developments for teaching that we have seen in the last 30 years.

The driver behind the debate we brought to the conference came from phone calls we received from teachers raising concerns that some pupils were presenting with irritability, poor concentration spans and poor performance.

They enquired whether we had heard from any other teachers with similar concerns. This piqued our interest and we decided to call for some research to be carried out to see if there was an actual problem.

Teachers have already raised concerns about some pupils who spend most of the night playing computer games, and whose attention span is so limited they may as well not be in class, or the pupils who wander around at break or lunch glued to their smartphones.

When a number of nursery teachers expressed concerns over some of their pupils able to swipe a screen, but who cannot socialise with other pupils or engage in other aspects of guided play, we felt it important to carry out research to see how widespread this concern was.

OFCOM’s report in October 2013 had stated that household ownership of tablet computers had more than doubled from 20 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent and this will increase.

Prominent scientists and researchers have stated that research into the effects of computer tablet use is in its infancy and that until we know more, parents can only follow their own parenting instincts.

As a leading teaching union we would agree and would be loath to give the impression that we are against tablets or indeed any technological innovation which might benefit teachers and pupils alike.

We do not want to deprive our pupils of access to computer tablets.

We do want to protect them from withdrawal, poor performance and loss of educational opportunities.

We are not advocating a ban on devices. We are not stating there are medical risks.

We are highlighting rising concerns of social isolation, of decreasing attention span and of over-reliance on a computer tablet.

We hope to gather evidence from ATL’s members, education authorities and medical practitioners to see if there actually may be a problem and, if necessary, to provide guidance for teachers to recognise the signs of ‘tablet addiction’ and the steps they could take to support pupils who are showing symptoms.

Colin Kinney is a school teacher in Northern Ireland and branch secretary for ATL Northern Ireland. He can be contacted on 028 9078 2020.

Related

Tackling loneliness

Kate Armitage, director of marketing at Gibsons, explains why the firm is teaming up with Carillion Libraries to launch Puzzle & Games Clubs aimed at combating loneliness.

Other people's toys

David Smith explores the eternal yearning for what other people have, especially when it comes to a Man From U.N.C.L.E. Briefcase.

Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.

Liberty

UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.