According to research we’ve recently discovered, children ages 8–18 now spend seven-and-a-half hours a day, seven days a week, using screens outside of the classroom. Those ages 12–17 use their phones to text message on a daily basis more than any other form of communication, including face-to-face interactions with peers, parents and others in their community.
And the trend is only growing. In the last two years alone, teen use of screens (think smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) has increased five-fold. For an organization like The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, these findings present both challenges and opportunities.
When grade schoolers and teens enroll in our adventure-based, outdoor education-focused backcountry courses, we inform them ahead of time that tablets and phones are not approved for use during backcountry travel. On the opportunity side of that equation, we find the same outcomes that researchers from UCLA recently did when they conducted an experiment that examined whether increasing opportunities for face-to-face interaction during an outdoor education program — while eliminating the use of screen-based media and communication tools — improved nonverbal emotion–cue recognition in preteens.
From a write up in The Wall Street Journal:
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, wondered if all screen time might be affecting children’s ability to read emotions in others. To find out, they took advantage of a rustic science-education program, 70 miles east of L.A., which doesn’t permit students to use electronic devices. (more…)