Screentime for learning: prevalence and impact

Year: 2018

Author: Sproul, Janene, MacCallum, Judith, Ledger, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Digital media is increasingly used in classrooms around the globe, however little data are available on daily educational digital media use in schools within Australia. Screened devices accessed for learning activities by students continue to increase in number and range including interactive whiteboards, iPads and phones. Technological tools used for learning activities in schools have altered from light reflective (paper based) to light emitting (digital media) devices Although educational research has demonstrated the positive influence of digital media in learning environments little recognition of medical evidence based research has been incorporated into established inclusive pedagogy to support those students who are adversely affected students. This research is part of a larger study investigating screentime in classrooms and accommodations for students with light sensitivity.
Two hundred high school students participated in this study that captured digital media use over a school day in Western Australia. The study was modelled on the 2007 Media and Society Research Project survey. At the end of a single day students recalled the type of digital media devices used in each lesson, duration by fraction of each lesson, and online homework completed after school hours. Student diaries used school timetables for time period segmentation throughout the day, as segmentation improves recall.
Findings revealed that the most frequently used digital media device in the classroom was the Interactive whiteboard (69% of classes) and ‘total digital media’ duration ranged from 1 - 9 hours per day which included ‘in school’ and ‘home’ (range: 0 – 4 hours). Subject area use of digital media ranged from information technology/computer science (92% of classtime) to other/ home economics (0%). Science, Maths, English and HASS were all above 50%. For many participants, laptop and interactive whiteboard use was simultaneous, as indicated by entire class duration of both devices.
Interviews with parents, teachers and students (who have graduated from high school) provide details of digital media duration, access and accommodations. For example, the daily need for individual cost/benefit analysis regarding school attendance for a student with chronic migraine.
The relatively high screentime reported in most secondary school subjects places constraints on the learning of students with light sensitivity. While the benefits of educational digital media use have been established, effective guidelines for its use within schools is limited. The research points to the need for policies to ensure the development of inclusive practice accommodations.