'Tech Breaks' for Facebook Don't Belong in School

If you haven't had your fill of OH NO FACEBOOK WILL DOOM US ALL articles, here's yet another one that says your social-media-loving teen is more likely to get crappy grades. In shocking news from the No-Shit Gazette, researchers discovered that kids who compulsively checked Facebook at least once in a 15-minute study period are -- wait for it -- probably less engaged in their schoolwork.

Oh, and also they're more narcissistic and prone to mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Hey, is there an UNLIKE button for all this? Because jeez, back in my day, the biggest in-school distraction we had was that kid Scott who threw up on his desk in Spanish class.


Confusingly, while some research is telling us that Facebook is bound to doom your child to an unhappy existence filled with bad grades and too many duck-face self portraits, other studies seem to indicate that social media helps kids develop their identities and become more empathetic through their interactions with online communities.

So it's basically all a horribly complex tapestry of ARGH, this business of trying to figure out how much social media is okay and how to set limits for your kids. But one thing seems pretty clear: More and more, kids are living in a world that is becoming filled to the brim with distractions.

Behavior research shows that if kids can stay on task while studying, they perform better. Duh, right? But how do you get teens to stop opening window after window (or checking their phones) as they drift away from the comparatively boring job of schoolwork? I myself fall victim to the siren song of Twitter and my email while I'm working, and while sometimes it's only a second out of my time, sometimes it turns into a major rabbit hole.

One strategy that's being floated around is introducing "tech breaks" in school. Basically, the idea is that if a kid knows he has an upcoming one-minute block of time to dick around on Facebook, he's much more capable of staying focused during the blocks of time when tech is not allowed.

I'm super conflicted in how I feel about this. On the one hand, if that actually works -- well, great. But man, how crazy does it seem that we might have to tell our teachers to create time in the school day just for this purpose? Wouldn't it be better if the students all had to get up and run a lap or something? Enforced physical activity sounds much better to me than Special Social Media Time.

I guess the worst thing to do is ignore the growing issue and think we can get away with just telling kids to avoid something they're drawn to. I'm not sure a tech break really gives a kid the tools they need to handle these temptations in the future, though. Last I checked, it was up to me to make sure I'm not mouth-breathingly clicking on Twitter for the frillionth time while the laundry piles up, my work deadlines blow past, and my kids set the house on fire.

What do you think about tech breaks in school? Are you pro or con?


Image via gesika22/Flickr

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