Developing Digital Controls

Developing Digital Controls

Use the power of 5 to help students control their device use. 

Dr. David Walsh recently posted his recommendations for helping students deal will the distractibility of Youtube. The following are his recommendations:

"As more and more homework goes online, students are tasked with a daunting task: How do I focus on the assignment and resist the allure of unrelated YouTube videos, social media posts, and other digital distractions? (I emphasize unrelated because some assignments ask students to draw on YouTube and other digital resources for learning)."

"In a recent study, Dr. Larry Rosen at Stanford University found that middle and high school students are only able to stay on task for three minutes on average before being distracted (the main distractors being information from phones and computers)."

"This particular form of self-regulation is a Herculean task for many kids."

Dr. Walsh recommends eight 8 Ways to Reduce Digital Distractions and Boost Productivity. I recommend every parent and teacher share this information with their students. 

Since 1990, I have been training students to deal with digital distraction, which began with how to deal with the attraction of Nintendo. It was not mobile and was monitored by parents, so it was easier for students to control usage. The issues began when students took their Nintendos to college with them. That's when I was called in to help students manage their use. 

Scheduling their use was the first strategy I tried, but it proved ineffective because of the addictive nature of the device. Shortly after, more and more students were being negatively impacted by over use of their games.  Neuroscientists were beginning to investigate the reasons for this growing dilemma. Researchers discovered that the games were giving players huge chemical reactions in their brains. This reaction looked much like the that of heroine addicts got after first their hits. 

I didn't experience success with helping my students until I began sharing the neuroscience behind the chemical charge they were getting when they played their games. It was the turning point in enlisting full cooperation from students to practice self-control. Knowing that they needed brain breaks from the chemical releases, made it easier for my students to monitor their game use.  When they understood that these chemical releases had a negative impact on their sleep and their ability to concentrate they were more motivate to strategically schedule game playing. 

Scientific research, when shared with students, strengthens their ability to resist the chemical pulls of games. 

Currently, eight and nine year olds are the being introduced to games that have rewards for playing daily. It creates a pull to play when they know the game is not good for them. The only strategy I found effective has been to point out that the feeling the students were having was created by the game maker. The game makers are deliberately creating chemical reactions in their brains that make them want to go back to it. Asking my students to decide if they want to have the game maker control them for the explicit reason of making money or they want to control the game themselves has been powerful.  

Try this Strategy for Developing Digital Control

 I've asked students to count backwards from 5 when they feel the desire to play. After they count backwards, they are to ask themselves, "Do I want the game maker to control me, or do I want to control the game?" 

Using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Rule has helped students break the attraction created by chemical pull of games. If can work for you, too!

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