Tech Time and Our Teens
How much screen time is healthy for my children? This is a question that parents often ask Southpointe teachers and counsellors.
Many variables play a role in answering this question. Obviously, the age of the student as well as their routines need to be considered. Based on what we observe in our community, parents need to ask themselves how, when and for what purpose is technology being used by our children. Dr. Shimi Kang has introduced to us the idea of ‘The Healthy Tech Diet‘, making an analogy between how the brain processes the use of technology and how our bodies metabolize nutrients. In fact, Dr. Kang is offering a free webinar on this topic on Thursday, December 6 at 8:30pm. Please sign up here.
Remember those days when distant communication required a landline, or when we had to wait a whole week to watch our favourite show (with commercials included)? We used to have to wait for a family member to finish using the phone, wait to be able to use the dial-up internet, or to get to a cybercafé. Today’s ready-to-use personal devices provide instant gratification, at a younger age. We also know that students use devices at any time, for longer periods of time, including right in their own bedrooms before sleeping. Today we can interact instantly with people around the world, and this creates great opportunities for collaboration and to practice social skills. However, exercising self-control may be challenging for some students. Also, being constantly exposed to certain media content could potentially impact their social-emotional health negatively.
A recent survey was conducted in Grade 6 to 12 at Southpointe where students were asked, ‘How much screen time you use a day?‘. 26% responded four-five hours a day, and 29.5% responded six or more hours a day (Norm: 288 respondents). So roughly 55% of students in Grade 6 to 12 are in front of a screen for at least four hours a day. In the words of Foster Cline and Jim Fay, in their book, Parenting With Love & Logic, the time spent in front of a screen is time not spent in other activities potentially needed for the healthy development of a child. This is particularly important for students in lower and middle school who benefit from a balance of activities to practice motor development, reading and writing, social connections, unstructured-creative indoor and outdoor play, family time and responsible use of technology. In older ages, we know that much of what students are required to do, include the use of technology daily. It is important that adults create opportunities for them to practice skills, as well as experience joy, through alternative means besides screen time.
We observe that many of our teenagers associate screen time with downtime. Multiple studies have found that some of the uses of technology release dopamine (here is one example). However, we know that watching a movie, gaming or using social media stimulates the brain and our thoughts, therefore students need to learn other ways of relaxing after a day full of structured activities. This is especially important around bed time when arousal from gaming and social media could impact rest. Students were also asked, ‘How many hours of sleep do you get a night?’. 28% (of the same population named above) responded six or less hours. Of course, technology before bedtime is not the only variable affecting sleep. We will address healthy rest in future articles.
How are we limiting screen time at Southpointe? The Parent Handbook and our Technology Responsible Use Policy (TRUP) share Southpointe Academy’s expectations for technology and student learning and where and when we limit technology at school. For example, phones are not permitted in classes without teacher permission, technology use in not permitted at recess or lunch for our Grade 6-8 students, and we plan to make our new dining hall on the Fourth Floor a tech-free area next year during lunch in order to foster a sense of community and a culture of happiness and togetherness. Ms. Cristina Leo is our new IT Integrator this year, and she has visited classrooms to discuss digital citizenship with a focus on recognizing the boundaries around healthy and unhealthy tech use.
Technology will continue to be an important part of learning and living in the mid-21st century. Our challenge is to help our students develop healthy tech habits, while ensuring they also develop the personal habits that lead to mental and physical wellbeing. Parents are always welcome to seek the guidance of our school counsellors, if they have questions or concerns around student welfare at Southpointe.
– Mr. Jose Acevedo, Senior School Counsellor
Southpointe Academy First to Offer International Qualification in Delta
IB-MYP to give students a ‘global perspective’ as interest in the program grows.
Southpointe Academy is poised to become the first school in the Delta district to be a fully authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) World School.
“The IB has a hard-earned reputation for high standards of teaching, pedagogical leadership and student achievement,” explains Dean Croy, Head of the School. “IB’s philosophy aligns very closely with our own: to provide students with a global perspective and greater understanding of the world through interactive and holistic learning practices, and to make practical connections between their studies and the real world.”
The process to become a IB-MYP World School will take up to two years and involves a number of phases that are challenging, rewarding, and ultimately worthwhile for the school and its community. Southpointe has already begun to implement the program and staff are currently undergoing IB training.
“Children learn beyond the skills; they learn with meaning,” says Cori Kusel, Junior School Vice Principal at Southpointe Academy and IB-MYP teacher whose children are IB students at the school. “The program empowers students to inquire into a wide range of issues and ideas of significance locally, nationally and globally. The result is young people who are creative, critical and reflective thinkers.”
In 2015, following a stringent three-year evaluation process, Southpointe Academy became the only accredited school in Delta and Richmond to become fully authorized as an IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) School.
“We have witnessed truly remarkable results with our Kindergarten to Grade 5 students as a result of the IB-PYP,” says Croy. “Our decision to apply for the IB- MYP for Grades 6 to 10 is a result of student, parent and teacher feedback. They see the difference. MYP is a continuation of PYP.”
Originally developed to provide education for globally mobile families in the diplomatic sector, and for those involved with multinational business and intergovernmental agencies, the program has evolved and now offers a stimulating academic environment more in tune with today’s global societal transformations.
Not only is IB beneficial for students and parents but it offers greater opportunities for teachers as well.
“IB is a community,” adds Kusel. “You not only receive ongoing training to continually update your skill set, but you have support from a global network. As a teacher you learn with other teachers from across the world. It doesn’t change you and your creativity but instead supports, develops and records your skills.”
According to a BC Ministry of Education spokesperson, the IB program encourages students to learn in a variety of ways. “It academically challenges students, with the objective of preparing them for success at university” said the spokesperson on Wednesday.
The IB program is the world’s fastest growing pre-university education program. Between December 2009 and December 2014, the number of IB programs offered worldwide grew by more than 46 percent. Projections for 2020 forecast 10,000 programs worldwide involving 2,500,000 students delivered by 290,000 teachers.
Southpointe Academy only accredited IB PYP World School in Delta
Southpointe Academy has become well known for cultivating engaged, well-rounded citizens poised to thrive in their pursuit of post-secondary education and primed to achieve their full potential. It is much more than a school; it is a dynamic community of sharp, young minds, impassioned educators and dedicated parents. It is now the only accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) School in the Delta and Richmond communities.
Southpointe Academy is dedicated to providing a high-quality education to its students and that is what led Southpointe Academy to apply for certification as a Primary Years Programme (PYP) International Baccalaureate World School. PYP is aimed towards students in Kindergarten to Grade 5, in which its emphasis is on the total growth of a developing child. The stringent 3-year evaluation and authorization process takes a rigorous look at the leadership, curriculum, instructional approaches, personnel and governance of the school. To receive this authorization, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IB), requires that administrators, and teachers commit to several hours of professional development and continuous learning coursework annually. The IB also assess the school’s ability to effectively guide young students in the five essential elements of knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and actions that they need to be equipped for successful lives, both now and in the future.
IB World School students develop strong academic, social and emotional characteristics. They are also more likely to perform well academically – often better than students in other programs. IB prepares students for the intellectual challenges of further education and focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. Now an IB World School, Southpointe Academy is part of a global network of schools that “aims to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”
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