Each day, the average Canadian student aged 8 to 18 spends approximately seven hours and 45 minutes in front of some sort of screen, such as a smartphone, tablet, television or computer. At a time of rapid technological change in our society, those who work with children, families, schools and communities are seeking to understand the effects of online digital activities for offline health and mental well-being.
To achieve this end, researchers from the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health, the University of Alberta and Boston Children’s Hospital are conducting a comprehensive and long-term analysis of the impact of digital technologies on Alberta child and youth health, development and learning.
The primary goal of this provincial research is to study the scope of the physical, mental and social consequences of digital technologies in areas such as exercise, homework, identity formation, distraction, cognition, learning, nutrition and sleep quality/quantity, says Dr. Phil McRae, an Association staff officer who is one of the researchers involved in the study.
“We need help from Alberta’s teachers and principals,” McRae said. “Their participation in the first stage of this study is critical.”
The survey, which is now available online, takes about 10 minutes to complete, McRae said. It will help researchers generate focus areas and begin to assess the impact of digital technologies on student learning and teaching practices.
As an incentive, survey participants will have the opportunity to be entered into a draw for one of five $100 gift cards.
The survey is located at http://bit.ly/GUD16. ❚