5 Ways to Get Kiddos Off Their Device

Ever tell a kiddo not to use an iPad (iPod or laptop) and then find them on the darn thing? Of course you have! Some may argue that the kiddo is disrespectful to authority (or testing limits). Some may argue that the kiddo may not have known better. What if it has more to do with the old adage 'that which we pay attention to grows.'

Reflecting on the three years I had a 1:1 classroom, I analyzed why my kiddos used the tech at some times and not others. Why is it they didn't want to use tech during recess or snack? Why did they turn them off when it was time to? Reflecting, I realized that it wasn't just one thing, it was a variety of things in combination.

1) Say what you mean and mean what you say. I always laugh when I think of something Jenna said to another student visiting our room one day. The student had asked me to do something (what, I don't remember) and I told her no. As kiddos are prone to do, she proceeded to ask me again. Before I could even respond to this kiddo Jenna told her, "When Mrs. Mercier says no, she means no. Don't ask her again." Consistency counts and kiddos appreciate it in the long run because they know what is expected.

2) Follow through. When first introducing iPods, iPads, or laptops my kiddos and I had conversations about how to care for them. Part of that conversation included why it was important to follow directions such as turning the devices off, turning the screen black, or turning the device in the opposite direction. They understood that in order for them to learn the most (that was one of our class rules one year) they would need to do this. They understood that in order to care for materials (another rule) this was necessary. The rare occasions that someone did not follow one of these expectations, they lost the privilege of using the device for a brief period of time.

3) Provide alternatives. If you want kiddos to engage in face-to-face conversations during snack, lunch, or recess then provide them with options that will allow them to do this. We had numerous conversations about what to do during outdoor recess; games to play, friends to play with. We did the same for lunch times; how to choose who to sit with and what to chat about. Indoor recess can be tricky in a 1:1 environment because often times the devices are right there. In instances of indoor recess I provided the kiddos with other choices, such as games, coloring, or building. All activities that would require the to engage in face-to-face activity. (This works well when choice is a classroom routine. It also helps of sometimes tech is included as a choice, and other times its not.)

4) Design highly engaging, tech-infused learning activities. I would design activities that often required long periods of time on the tech. Kiddos may have been researching, collaborating, creating, or problem solving via tech for hours. Because of the large amount of academic screen time they never complained about not using tech when it wasn't an option.

5) Talk to your kiddos about the impact of screen time. Part of the reason why number 4 was successful was because we read about the impact of screen time on young eyes and brains. They understood the effects and often monitored their own use. Just be sure to have an informative conversation, because depending on the age some kiddos may get anxious about screen time.

Over the years, whether I have a 1:1 or 1:2 environment or 1 device classroom I have found these strategies immensely helpful. Kiddos follow the 'no device rule' because its not really a rule.


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