Homework and screen time, what's the plan this year?

Photo by Mark Bowden/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Mark Bowden/iStock / Getty Images

Screen time and homework can be a real problem. Our children often need screens to do their homework and then are automatically vulnerable to distraction when they need concentration the most. Famous research out of Stanford showed that when people multitask they feel as if they are doing better and better at the different tasks but actually they are doing worse and worse on all of them. 

I am starting to have talks now with my kids about how are they going to manage homework—both being organized around it and staying focused. Staying focused is so important because their brains are developing these critical functions during these teen years. When I interviewed Dimitri Christakis, MD at Seattle Children’s Hospital, for Screenagers, he said that successfully building executive function skills are measured not just by staying on tasks we find interesting, but by actually learning how to stay on tasks that we find challenging or tedious.

For this week's Tech Talk Tuesday I have some conversation starters about how we can work with our kids to find ways to help them get organized and manage homework. 

  • How often do you think you need a break when you are working on homework? Every 20 minutes, 30 minutes?  
  • How much of your homework has to be done on a computer? Parents can answer the same question for their own work.
  • Where would you like your kids to be while doing their homework and where would they like to be? 
  • During homework, what do you use your phone for? Calculator? Collaborating with friends? Checking assignments online?
  • Are there advantages of having a day planner that is not an app, or online?  (OK, I am biased here, in my family I think having a paper planner is good to prevent Tessa from  saying that she needs her phone to check her assignments. This year she is going to have a notebook planner) Parents should share how they keep track of their work.