August 10, 2018
Discussing how to limit screen time with Dr. John Marschhausen
In this episode of our podcast, host Joel Gagne speaks with Dr. John Marschhausen, superintendent of Hilliard City Schools in Ohio, about the benefits of limiting screen time at home and at schools, and ways to get started.
Joel asks what the partnership between parents and educators should look like, and how to appropriately limit screen time.
Dr. Marschhausen says that just because the district has a one-to-one initiative for students and devices doesn’t mean they are advocating for using devices constantly.
“I think one of the misconceptions that parents often have is that, when schools go one to one, the school is an advocate for a lot of screen time,” he says. “And that couldn’t be further from the truth in a lot of cases.”
In Hilliard, the partnership begins with open lines of communication, including sharing the mission and vision with parents. Hilliard has worked diligently to streamline email communication, but they are careful not to over-communicate.
Parents are able to learn more about screen time through the district’s Parents University. When the district rolls out iPads to new group of students they hold technology nights. Parents are able to see what’s going on, which allows them to be part of the digital wellness issue.
“We will bring in outside professionals and experts to engage parents… you bring in psychologists and doctors and pediatricians to talk to mom and dad about what is a healthy amount of screen time,” Dr. Marschhausen says. “All of those things are important.”
Joel and Dr. Marschhausen talk about how iOS 12 will be released in the fall and will have specific controls to limit screen time.
Joel asks what digital wellness looks like to Dr. Marschhausen.
“Well, I think part of it is age appropriate. Part of it is, in our younger grades you don’t want your early primary students on their devices for more than say half an hour at a time or a couple hours in a day,” Dr. Marschhausen says, admitting he is a bit old school and still wants kids to enjoy reading physical books. “We want those youngsters to develop social skills.”
Schools and society as a whole have always had to manage new technology.
“The technology is just a tool,” he cautions. “It will never replace that face to face.”
Dr. Marschhausen talks about how new tech is always changing the game. He points to the next iOS update, which is expected to allow FaceTime with many users at the same time.
“So you’ve got to be out ahead,” he says. “All of this information is out there. Do you have someone who’s tuned in, do you have someone who is adept in your organization at creating a 35- to 40-minute program that moms and dads (can take).”
Hilliard uses a variety of products and services, including Apple devices and Google education products and the Canvas system.
Joel asks Dr. Marschhausen about digital safety.
“I think one of the most important things is building a culture where our students talk about, ‘see something, say something,’” Dr. Marschhausen says. “It’s nearly impossible for us, as the adults, to monitor every place our kids are. And every time we think we find the social media networks or the platforms our kids are engaging with, there are new platforms that are coming about, and ways that they’re keeping things from us.”
Dr. Marschhausen closes with three things for superintendents to know. The first is to get outside of the school environment and engage with medical and healthcare professionals. The second is that teachers are the most valuable resources. And finally, build a network of other superintendents and people you trust.
“We don’t compete in schools anymore, we collaborate,” Dr. Marschhausen says.
Read the full We Love Schools podcast episode about how to limit screen time.
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