Superintendent Message

May 2019
Mike Nelson

Diane Sawyer did a feature Friday evening on screen time. It was a thought-provoking piece on how the culture in our society is changing as a result of all of us (children and adults) having devices that immediately connect us to friends and family members as well as any information in which we can "ask Google." There are also numerous apps and games that add to the time we are on our devices.

It's easy to immediately react to this special television feature and point or direct outward that the problem is with young children, students or young parents as identified in some of the examples. I would challenge us to embrace this conversation ourselves. I believe we are all attempting to understand how we should participate in this culture that has quickly transformed our society. I appreciated that the story presented was less on "the number of minutes per day" and more on "how and when we use our devices." Putting a number to screen time doesn't help us teach and model the valuable use of devices. Their message also caused me to refl ect about my own behavior. Instead of pointing outward, I would challenge us to hold up a mirror and focus inward first. I appreciate that ABC has put out the challenge for all of us to monitor our screen time. Here is the link ABC has offered for this self-monitoring view of your own personal screen time: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/screentime-challenge/story?id=62729959

For the past two months, I have monitored my screen time. I can look at it any time I want, but I officially get a report every week. For the first few weeks, I quickly dismissed it, as I didn't want to believe my screen time amount! After a few weeks, I was beginning to receive reports that my screen time has been lowered by a certain percentage. For those of you who have ever played a game with me, you know that I am a bit competitive. I began to play a game with myself to monitor myself with a hope to lower my percentage. This "looking in the mirror" strategy brought meaning to me about how I want to monitor my own behavior regarding screen time. I believe it is a key in helping us arrive at a "sweet spot" for using devices by thinking of the reason I am using my device and does using the device align with my values.

As a result of watching this feature and going through monitoring my own screen time, I thought a lot about our students. I thought a lot about our responsibility to teach and guide them through the changes while we are also experiencing these changes ourselves. We know simply sharing the data with students or saying screen time is bad will not be an effective way to have them think and reflect about this topic. We do need to learn from past generations and choose a different approach. I think being vulnerable and authentic in sharing stories of your journey in monitoring your own screen time could be a wonderful model for all of us and a grand and authentic conversation about this relatively new social issue. It shows that this issue is not isolated to one generation, nor are we focusing on them. Again, we are all learning to deal with this important societal issue that has inundated how we live, connect and access information! I appreciate your partnership in this conversation.

In partnership with you,

Mike Nelson's signature graphic