Educators do their best to create a safe and healthy learning environment. However, it can’t be ignored that many young students still struggle. The statistics can be shocking to hear. Statistics like one in five kids have seriously considered suicide, that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24, or that 8.6 percent of high school grade students have attempted suicide one (or more times) in the last year. The suicide rate for teen girls is at the highest point its ever been at for forty years.
Luckily for educators, there are technologies available that can help teachers keep students safe. In this article, we will outline how teachers utilize technology in their schools to keep students safe. In addition, we will explain how technology is prevalent in elementary schools and provide a list of the pros and cons of using technology in school.
Using Technology in Schools to Keep Students Safe
There is still hope for students who are struggling. 90 percent of teens who report symptoms of depression say they have gone online for information on mental health issues. Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.
Many teachers and school districts utilize software programs to try and pick up on these early warning signs and prevent incidents. One such product, GoGuardian Beacon, helps teachers identify students in need of help. The product monitors student’s devices, creates an alert when it detects concerning activity, and notifies the right people (including staff, parents, and students) to make sure that action is trackable and visible. The software was developed in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology, two of the top non-profits in their field.
Technology in Elementary Schools
Technology has taken over our world. It’s no surprise that it has made its way into elementary education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 98 percent of elementary school teachers use computers in the classroom every day. 57 percent of kids under the age of twelve have used a mobile device for educational purposes.
The use of technology among elementary-aged students is widespread. Teachers need to be aware of the dangers technology can pose to young minds and do what they can to mitigate them. Along with educating students on the proper use of technology, many schools operate firewalls or content blockers that restrict the online content students can access.
Technology in Schools: Pros and Cons
Technology Assists in Individualized Learning – Each student is unique and has their own learning style and pace. Teachers sometimes struggle with differentiating instruction in order to better match each individual student’s needs and abilities.
Luckily for teachers, technology-based apps and programs can help in this area. They often support multiple levels and styles of learning. In addition, they let students work at their own pace.
When a student (or groups of students) are struggling with a certain topic, apps and programs track this and extra support can be provided where necessary. Meanwhile, students who excel in certain areas can shift to more advanced topics at a faster rate thanks to technology. No matter the student’s needs, technology can assist in providing individualized learning for students.
Prepares Students for the Future – Most careers in the future will involve technology to some degree. Getting experience with technology early helps young students learn the skills required to operate the latest software and devices. In addition, it helps students to research and solve problems in a cooperative and collaborative way with their classmates.
Teachers can use technology to expand on and reinforce the subject matter. Alicia Levi, Vice President at PBS Education, said that “technology is a critical part of learning and teaching in today’s classrooms”.
A PBS Learning Media national survey found 69 percent of teachers said that technology allows them to “do much more than ever before” when it comes to educating their students. Technology can greatly help teachers prepare students for the future.
Increases Engagement and Motivation – Students often enjoy learning with technology. It’s no surprise that using technology in the classroom can boost students’ motivation and engagement.
This is especially true for elementary students who may become easily bored with textbooks, lectures, and written assignments. These forms of education are generally passive. Integrating technology into lesson plans and learning activities can excite students and promote active learning. Not to mention that the students will stay engaged and interested in the material.
According to the United States Department of Education, using technology in the classroom “increases student engagement and motivation, and accelerates learning.” Increasing engagement and motivation in students is just one way classrooms can benefit from technology.
Health Risks – Improper use of technology can pose a health risk for students. Overstimulation due to technology is very possible. When students are overstimulated it can be difficult for their brains to unwind and relax. This can cause issues with sleep and even behavior.
Brain development should also be considered. Young people require face-to-face interaction in order for their brains to develop properly. Screen time can sometimes come at the expense of real-world social interaction. Teachers should educate their students on the proper use of technology.
Laziness – There are two sides to how technology can encourage laziness in students: a mental and a physical side. Mentally, technology use can encourage students to expect a quick reward. Students may become accustomed to online searches and less likely to read a physical book or perform traditional research at a library. When it appears that everything is online, why bother going through the extra work?
The other side of laziness due to technology is physical. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “less than one-quarter (24 percent) of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day.” Technology can keep students away from getting active outside.
Loss of Focus – Technology may be causing students to lose focus faster and have shorter attention spans. Dr. Jim Taylor, the author of Raising Generation Tech, said that “there is a growing body of evidence … that technology…[is] hurting kids’ ability to focus…we are fundamentally changing the way kids think and the way their brains develop.”
This can be harmful to students. Lacking the ability to pay attention to something makes it impossible to process information. If students are not able to consolidate information into memory, they will be unable to analyze, interpret, critique, or make a decision about the information.