Parental guidance in digital learning, clear distinction between productive and unproductive screen time and interactive sessions rather than one-sided video lectures are some of the measures suggested by experts to ensure success of online learning mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The experts shared their views in a webinar organised by FICCI ARISE (Alliance for Re-imagining School Education) on “Good Screen Time vs Bad Screen Time” for a fair assessment of the nature and need of online learning.
“It is not the screen time that matters but the content that is consumed and the context of it that affects one’s well-being. It was imperative to make a distinction between productive and unproductive screen time. Screen time where an adult is on the other side engaging children in the process of learning can not be viewed as harmful,” said Vishnu Kartik, an alumnus of Harvard University.
“Besides, teachers ought to be trained to ensure that these are not one-sided lectures and there is a certain level of interactivity and also tasks integrated into the lesson that allow the child to work independently. In affect, it is the quality of the interaction and content that matter and not so much the time,” he added.
According to Ravindran, a renowned education psychologist and trainer, the idea is to learn how to make productive use of the technology at hand.
“I don’t know when people started having anti-screen hysteria. Screens were there and screens will be there in the modern world. It is not a good idea to expose children to screens below the age of two. However, for children above three years, 2-3 hours of time engaged in active learning is a suggested amount of screen time,” he said.
Apart from screen time being an issue among parents and children, another issue that the webinar addressed was cyber security, which was taken up by Rakshit Tandon, an expert in the field.
“What parents and children need to understand now is that we are all virtual or digital citizens. It is time to give children the values of digital citizenship- Responsibility, respect, compassion, resilience, integrity and creating positive digital footprints. Two words I believe should be added to the curriculum are netiquettes and digital wellness which I compliment with the word cyber hygiene,” Tandon said.
Parul Sharma, director and HOD, Ophthalmology, Max Healthcare, highlighted that eyes are sturdy and can take all kinds of radiations, however, what matters the most is when the blinking rate goes down or if the exposure to a screen is at a close distance.
“Size of the screen matters, a laptop and computer at an arm’s length is intermediate and are therefore, more suitable as against a tablet, book or mobile phone held close to the eye.
“The best way to deal with the harmful effects is by taking enough breaks. For instance, a 10-10 rule or a 20-20 rule, wherein after every 10 minutes, one must practise shutting the eyes for 10 seconds. Same for the 20 minutes rule. One could also download applications to set reminders about these healthy practices,” Sharma said.