North Star Academy Challenges Students To Reduce Social Media “Screen Time”
Thursday, March 2, 2017
NORTH STAR ACADEMY CHALLENGES STUDENTS
TO REDUCE SOCIAL MEDIA “SCREEN TIME”
Parker, CO – February 27, 2017 - Kids everywhere have heard the request to “put down the screen” (cell phone or other screen-based technology) and do something productive. North Star Academy’s principal, Kendra Hossfeld, decided to take the advice to heart and challenge the school’s 8th grade students to a week-long “screen detox”.
Hossfeld noticed students were developing poor communication skills, as social media seems to rule the roost when it comes to interpersonal communication. Students seem to be increasing their use of informal and often insensitive communication while centering their emotions on things like “Snapchat streaks” (back and forth “chatting” for multiple days in a row). She began researching children’s developing brains and found multiple studies have shown too much screen time causes atrophy in parts of the brain where “processing” occurs. Areas affected include the frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as time management, prioritizing, reasoning, and impulse control.
“The frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed until an individual is twenty-five years old. Sadly enough, ‘screen time’ has hijacked the minds of many of our children and it appears as though their brains are being physiologically altered from the amount of time they interact with a screen,” Hossfeld said. “We want to encourage better and more meaningful communication among students and bring a level of awareness to them regarding how much control their devices have on their minds and brains.”
Hossfeld focused the initial three-week challenge on NSA’s 58 8th graders asking them to eliminate social media screen time for one week after a discussion on the effects devices have on their bodies. Included in the challenge was a request to journal about their emotions as they “detoxed” from social media, followed by a reintroduction with boundaries during week two, and a final challenge during week three to be a positive influence when on social media.
A multitude of emotions about this challenge were shared by students in heartfelt and often eye opening journals. Students shared thoughts like: “Being without my device made me lose track of time because I was enjoying an amazing book. It was a nice break from drama!” and “I had over 100 streaks on my Snapchat. It was hard to manage all of the streaks, kind of like a part time job.”
In an effort to bring awareness to the effects of screen time on the brain, the school has extended the screen challenge to the rest of the school encouraging students to cut back on screen time. In addition, NSA is hosting a showing of the documentary, “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age” which examines the impact of screens and children’s increased connection to the digital age. While they aren’t charging admission, they are accepting donations for Rosie’s Ranch, a Parker-based nonprofit where children with deafness or oral language challenges learn to expand their listening, verbal and reading skills by engaging in activities with horses.
About North Star Academy
North Star Academy is an award-winning K-8 public, tuition-free school of choice located in Western Parker, in the Stonegate community. The school utilizes the Core Knowledge sequence, an award-winning character education program and a district-recognized model foreign language program to deliver instruction-allowing students to meet their highest academic potential. The school prides itself on the academic growth of individual students and has received numerous awards including the John Irwin School of Excellence Award, the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award and has been recognized as a National School of Character. More information can be found at www.nstaracademy.org.