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Managing Screen Time on School Trips

StudentOnPhoneInHotelOne of the greatest challenges many teachers and trip leaders face when embarking on a trip with students is how to manage technology use and screen time.  On one hand, smartphones and tablets allow our students to have access to apps and instant information that can support learning and enhance the trip experience.  But when do these apps and tools cross the line into becoming a distraction?  


Writer Ana Homayoun tackles how intrinsic motivation can help students set their own boundaries in her most recent article for EdSurge and is the topic of today’s blog post.  Check it out below.

Homayoun visited public, private, and charter schools in over 40 cities and surveyed students to determine how they felt about their own technology use.  She reported her findings in her article “How Intrinsic Motivation Helps Students Manage Digital Distraction.”


The most interesting finding of Homayoun’s research is that students are aware that their time on social media and online can be a distraction.  This finding is also confirmed by the Pew Research Center, which found that over half of U.S. teenagers feel as though they spend too much time on their cell phones.  


According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of teenagers check their phones as soon as they get up (as do 58 percent of their parents), and 45 percent of teenagers feel as though they are online on a nearly constant basis.  We’re sure teachers are not surprised to read these numbers.


“In some ways, the first wave of digital citizenship education faltered by blocking distractions from school networks and telling students what to do, rather than effectively encouraging them to develop their own intrinsic motivation around making better choices online and in real life,” she writes. 


When students are able to connect their habits to their goals, they find motivation to limit their social media time, not just because they are told to, but because they understand their limited time can be better spent in other ways. 


So what are the implications of these findings for student travel?


Homayoun’s research would suggest that teachers and trip leaders have an open dialogue with students leading up to the trip about responsible technology use while traveling.  Perhaps ask students to make goals about what they want to get out of their travel experience and then helping them to think through how their technology habits can impact those goals.


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