Should children and young people regulate their own access to Social Media themselves?
A new old news story from Nyborg Gymnasium, which in 2020 on the students ‘own initiative’ blocked Social Media, games, streaming, etc. on the students’ computers when the bell rang for class. Not only that, they were also asked to put their phones in a box at the door of the classroom.
1 year later, the principal at Nyborg Gymnasium evaluate the impact, and it is a predominantly positive evaluation: – “The problem has actually been solved. Come and talk to my students, and you will see that there is another peace. It has created more well-being, presence in the class and more professional focus”.
According to one of the students at Nyborg Gymnasium, there was general opposition to the restriction in the beginning, as they wanted to be treated more like adults and thought it was deprivation of liberty. But today they have become accustomed to the restriction, and of course that there are ways to circumvent the restriction.
The perspective is quite interesting, as it generally contradicts traditional Danish pedagogy, which focuses on education through dialogue, and that limitations rather make the problem bigger than smaller.
According to pedagogical consultant, Dorte Ågard, who has just published the book “screens in school”, it is a solution that is appropriate to the goal, since young people cannot take responsibility for their own self-regulation “it requires a self-control at 16-18- year olds, which they do not have at all yet ”.
In contrast to Dorte Ågard, Christian Mogensen, consultant at the Center for Digital Pedagogy, believes that it will simply be a matter of pushing the problem ahead when young people must be able to exercise self-control at, for example, the university. “In high school, you have to teach young people to take responsibility for their own learning and be part of a learning environment – and you do not do that by blocking the things that take concentration” he says.
However, the conflicting pedagogical views do not necessarily have to be opposites. Today, it is harder and harder to curb young people’s access to digital services, and there is no doubt that they are all fighting for our attention, maximizing the time we spend on the services. Therefore, it is important that we are able to use tools for constraints at the times when it makes sense. For example, it will almost always be appropriate to limit notifications when you are sleeping or having to concentrate at school, but therefore you can still have good access to the service and let the young people regulate themselves so that they visit it every 5 minutes.
There are also several opportunities to create better digital education, for example through nudging. One could make a contest about who visits Social Media at least during the day. In other situations, it may turn out that a period of regulation and restriction is needed for young people to experience peace without disturbance, and how presence in the physical world can offset the digital.
It may all sound very difficult to handle, and therefore many feel that it is a lost cause, for both parents and school leaders, as the young people are “born with their fingers on the keys“.
But it does not have to be impossible to help yourself and your children to better digital habits and achieve the ability to exercise self-control in our digital life.
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