The topic of screen time is also of interest in a school context and parents can only impose limits at home (and even that can be problematic).
In the most recent research I conducted on Secondary Student Digital Literacy, I was interested in the extent that students make use of their devices (in this case laptops), I asked students (in this case Year 12 students) to estimate the amount of time they thought they used a computer for the following purposes:
- for study at school
- study outside school
- for purposes other than study
I expected the results to be around 4 hours per day (on average) with perhaps 2 hours use in school and 2 hours use at home for things like homework and research for the next school day. Research of 10 to 17 year olds in Western Australia cited mean daily use of 3.2 hours although it was conducted a long time ago (Harris and Straker, 2000). I expected that most students would exceed the recommendation of less than two hours per day use for screen based media use; 80% of 16 year olds exceed his according to Houghton et al., 2015.
What really made me leap with surprise was the number of hours that students said they used computers which they said (when collated) that they averaged 10.72 hours per day!
The full break down meant that students thought they were using their laptops for around 4 hours at school, and more than 6 hours per day at home (although 3.19 hours of this use was school related) and the full data from the student responses is below showing what they think their average daily use of computers is:
- Computer use at school = 4.1 hours
- Computer use for study outside school = 3.19 hours
- Computer use for purposes other than study = 3.43 hours
- Average student total use of a computer =10.72 hours
Now admittedly, the data was not from a non-selective comprehensive school (as we say in the UK or a "public school" in the American sense), the higher than average socio-economic characteristics of students at a fee paying international school might lead to higher frequency of use (Gui, 2007) but even so, the results vastly exceeded my preconceived ideas of what the average daily use of a school laptop would be!
This amount of use does not necessarily lead to better (overall) digital literacy so my next questions to ponder are:
- Is there a "correct" amount of screen time to deliver maximum benefit?
- If there is a "correct" amount of screen time, will it vary depending on student age?
- Is there a "best" type of computer use that will cover all aspects of Digital Literacy and enable students to develop them all?
Harris, C , Straker, L. 2000. Survey of physical ergonomics issues associated with school childrens’ use of laptop computers. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 26, Issue 3, September 2000, pp. 337–346
Houghton, S., Hunter, S. C., Rosenberg, M., Wood, L., Zadow, C., Martin, K., & Shilton, T. (2015). Virtually impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen based media use. BMC Public Health, 15(1).