It is a great idea to talk about screen time with students of all ages – particularly if you are concerned about the amount of time they spend online.
One approach is to have a frank and honest discussion – perhaps as part of PSHE, registration or form time. Students are less likely to respond well to a lecture about what is and isn’t an acceptable amount of time to spend online, particularly as there is no evidence of a set amount of screen time which works for everybody.
Instead, start by asking students about what they enjoy doing online. This could include the games they play, services they use and people they communicate with. Allow them to share all of the positive aspects of using the internet and then use this to transition into talking about screen time.
You might say something like:
“Going online is great – but how can we tell when we’ve been online for too long? What signs might we experience?”
Young people will often have lots of insightful examples to share at this point and may mention things like headaches, neck pains and blurry vision, but also devices running out of charge or feeling hot to touch.
Once you’ve established what kind of signs they might experience, you can then transition into discussing how best to find a healthy balance between online and offline activities. It may be useful to draw comparisons with a balanced diet. Just as a healthy diet has lots of variety and includes a balance of different food types, a healthy lifestyle needs variety and a balance of different activities. For example: eating, sleeping, conversation and physical activity, in addition to online activities.
For more teaching ideas why not use our Screen Time and Healthy Balance Quick Activities which can both stand alone or be used to structure a lesson specifically on screen time.