Creating Healthy Online Habits

K-12 student smiling as she uses her laptop.

Digital citizenship is about how kids can be “good citizens” online and have healthy and safe online time. This is increasingly important when screen-time takes up a huge chunk of students’ free time. To build health-minded students, start by building their interests offline.

Students are spending more time online

Kids 8 and up are spending more time on social than ever before. During the height of the pandemic from 2019-2021, a survey by Common Sense Media showed screen use increased by 17%. This drastically increases their vulnerability to a wide range of unhealthy situations, including age-inappropriate content, misinformation, and cyberbullying.

Pandemic-related daily screen-time use:

  • Tweens (ages 8 to 12) – 5 hours and 33 minutes
  • Teens (ages 13 to 18) – 8 hours and 39 minutes

Raise self-awareness

Challenge students to track how they spend their time online. They might be surprised to learn how much time they waste online. After kids realize their social media habits, direct their focus on what they could be doing offline instead. While students need to develop safe online habits, taking them offline more is the healthiest route when kids are spending too much time online.  

Encourage new, healthy offline habits

After kids reflect on how much time they spend online, help them brainstorm healthier habits. Have students list activities they would do if social media, video games, and other screen-related media didn’t existThis activity will help students prioritize what matters to them off-screen, and when students prioritize what matters, avoiding communities that don’t build them up in areas of their interest may become less desirable hangouts.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sources:

https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2022/05/building-themes-digital-citizenship-instruction-and-business-planning-perfcon

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action/articles/kids-media-use-accelerated-rapidly-during-the-pandemic

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