Curbing screen time: Strategies to empower Indian students

Setting guidelines and regulations for screen time usage within educational institutions can provide a structured environment that fosters healthy digital habits
Screen time menace | (Pic: EdexLive)
Screen time menace | (Pic: EdexLive)

In today's digital age, Indian students face a pervasive challenge: excessive screen time.

With smartphones, tablets, and laptops readily available, countless hours are spent engaging with the online world, potentially impacting their academic performance, physical health, and mental well-being. To address this issue, a multi-pronged approach involving students, parents, educators, and policymakers is crucial.

Cultivating student responsibility:
- Empowering self-regulation: Encourage students to monitor and understand their screen time habits, utilising apps or tools to track usage. This awareness can foster a sense of accountability, empowering them to make informed choices about their digital consumption.

- Promoting alternative activities: Diverting attention towards non-screen activities like physical exercise, outdoor play, reading, or creative hobbies can offer a healthier and more fulfilling alternative to excessive digital engagement.

- Building digital literacy: Equipping students with critical thinking skills and a healthy scepticism towards online content is essential. Workshops and educational programmes can enhance their ability to discern reliable information and navigate the digital world responsibly.

Enhancing parental involvement:
- Setting clear guidelines: Establishing clear rules and boundaries around screen time is vital. This includes designated time slots for studying, socialising, and digital engagement, ensuring a balance that prioritises learning and well-being.

- Leading by example: Parents should be mindful of their own screen time habits, demonstrating healthy digital consumption behaviours for their children.

- Open communication: Fostering open and honest conversations with children about the potential risks and benefits of technology can empower them to make responsible choices and seek support when needed.

Strengthening educational support:
- Promoting technology-free learning zones: Creating specific periods within the school day where technology is restricted can encourage active learning, social interaction, and focus.

- Harnessing technology for learning: Integrating technology into the curriculum in a meaningful way can enhance engagement and learning outcomes. This could involve interactive learning platforms, online resources, and collaborative projects.

- Promoting digital wellness programmes: Implementing educational programmes focused on responsible technology use and digital citizenship can equip students with essential knowledge and skills to navigate the digital world safely and effectively.

Policy-driven solutions:
- Investing in digital literacy programmes: Government initiatives and educational institutions can collaborate to develop and implement comprehensive digital literacy programmes for students, parents, and educators.

- Promoting responsible content creation: Encouraging the development of educational and engaging content that can compete with the allure of purely entertainment-based apps and websites.

- Regulating screen time in schools: Setting guidelines and regulations for screen time usage within educational institutions can provide a structured environment that fosters healthy digital habits.

Average daily screen time for Indian children: 4.4 hours (UNICEF, 2021)

Percentage of Indian children addicted to the internet: 10 per cent (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, 2023)

Correlation between screen time and decreased academic performance: 40 per cent (National Council of Educational Research and Training, 2022)

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