iPADS helping students manage distraction?

mobile-2639332_640We have all read the various media reports in relation to concerns about children’s screen time, use of social media and also how technology can be distracting and negatively impact the ability for children to focus and concentrate.    I have never really signed up to these concerns, although I have always accepted that at extreme levels of screen time and use negative consequences are likely, that however can be said for most things in life, that an over indulgence will have negative results whether it is over eating, over exercising, over dieting or over use of technology.

headspaceA recent visit to a school however casts this whole subject into another light and highlighted a potential benefit I hadn’t really considered.     I was talking with students about the apps they use in school and the group of boys I was talking to where confidently and excitedly describing various apps which they used in different subjects.   It was then that one student turned his iPad so I could see it and pronounced that he used HeadSpace.     He apparently found he got stressed or distracted at times and that the HeadSpace app on his iPad allowed him to take time out and refocus.   Here we had a student using technology to help with focus and distraction.

For those that aren’t aware of HeadSpace, it is mindfulness and meditating app which, according to their website is “a personal meditation guide, right in your pocket”.   As it happens I have myself experimented with HeadSpace so when the student mentioned it, I was aware of what it was.

Technology is in my eyes a tool.   In my eyes it is a very versatile tool or even a “swiss army knife” of educational tools.    Like any tool, it is the use to which we put it that has either positive or negative results as opposed to the tool itself.    Put to the use as a tool to quiet children, keep them blindly busy or simply quiet then it will be no wonder that the outcomes will be negative, that students may find focusing difficult.   Alternatively, like with the pupil I met, it could also be used to tackle the specific negative outcomes that the above poor use might result in.   It could be used to positively support students in managing distraction and in focusing.

Would be interested in if any others are using Headspace or other apps in relation to Mindfulness in students.

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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