Online Learning Discussed in 'Good Screen Time vs. Bad Screen Time' Webinar

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - 10:28

A webinar on 'Good Screen Time vs Bad Screen Time' has been held by experts in the field of neuroscience psychology, medicine and cyber security to make a fair assessment of the nature and need of online learning.

As it has been reported by Tribune India, due to the coronavirus pandemic, online and offline learning materials developed but there are growing concerns that children may not be receiving an in-depth education and are spending too much time in front of computers or with mobile phones.

The FICCI ARISE (Alliance for Re-imagining School Education) organized a webinar on 'Good Screen Time vs. Bad Screen Time', to make a fair assessment of the nature and need of online learning. There were several questions raised on whether it is advisable to write off this academic year and catch up later to addressing the issues of fear of screen time and technology.

An alumnus of Harvard University, educated in Mind, Brain and Education, Vishnu Karthik stressed on the importance of continuity of learning in managing learning loss, maintaining rituals and routines and managing stress. He said that it is not the screen time that matters, but the content that is consumed and the context of it that affects one's well-being.

Karthik said screen time where an adult is on the other side engaging children in the process of learning cannot be viewed as harmful. Besides, teachers ought to be trained to ensure that these are not one-sided lectures and there is a certain level of interactivity and also tasks integrated into the lesson that allow the child to work independently. In affect, it is the quality of the interaction and contents that matter and not so much the time.

Parental Guidance in Digital Learning

Ravindrana, a renowned education psychologist and trainer, said: "It is not a good idea to expose children to screens, below the age of two. However, for children above three years, 2-3 hours of time engaged in active learning is a suggested amount of screen time." He also emphasized on the importance of online social interactions for children, the need for routines and structures and how it may have a positive impact on their socio-emotional health.

He also talked about role of parental guidance in digital learning. He said: "As long as there is a healthy diet, adequate sleep and play time and no extra-ordinary signs of distress, any anxiety over too much screen time is not necessary." He further added that instead of stigmatizing and demonizing screen time, focus should be laid on training the teachers to make the experience more engaging and leave education to educators.

Cyber Security

Apart from screen time being an issue among parents and children, another issue that the webinar addressed was on cyber security which was taken up by cyber security expert Rakshit Tandon.

"What parents and children need to understand now is that we are all virtual or digital citizens. It is time to give children the values of digital citizenship -- responsibility, respect, compassion, resilience, integrity and creating positive digital footprints.

"Two words I believe should be added to the curriculum are netiquettes and digital wellness, which I compliment with the word cyber hygiene. Get trained to navigate the internet highway."

Impact of Excessive Screen Time

And finally to understand the impact of excessive screen time on the eyes, Parul Sharma, Director and HOD, Ophthalmology, Max Healthcare highlighted that the eyes are sturdy to take all kinds of radiations, however, what matters the most is when the blinking rate goes down or if the exposure to a screen is at a close distance.

She added that the size of the screen matters, a laptop and computer at an arm's length distance is intermediate and are, therefore, more suitable as against a tablet, book or mobile phone held closely to the eye.

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