As the pandemic seems to wind down, there is discussion about returning face-to-face in schools. Some districts are already in fits and starts of hybrid schooling and others are envisioning continuing virtual school for the remainder of the school year.
The concern about the copious amount of screen time in our daily lives plays out in these discussions. While most of us try to reduce the quantity of minutes and hours we spend on phones, laptops, and computers, there is little discussion about the quality of these minutes and hours.
What are the differences between doom scrolling, web surfing, and going down the rabbit hole?
How do we divide our time between zoom sessions, virtual school, video games, and social media?
How do we see that our attention, engineered by well-oiled algorithms, is now a politically and economically precious commodity?
An intergenerational restorative literacies circle can categorize the above questions into two concepts of metacognition:
passive or active engagement.
Are we passively responding to click baits? Or actively contemplating, analyzing, and critiquing? Are we attempting to dismantle and understand viewpoints or simply allowing the viewpoint to wrap us up emotionally without question? When we use search engines to find a recipe to bake muffins, a how-to video to stop the leak in the bathroom sink, or to look up who made the interesting tracks in the snow, do we check the reliability of the information? How do we read news and statistics? Do we take them at face value or dig deeper to check the sources? When we play online games, do we consciously choose between Candy Crush or Scrabble? And why? To relieve stress or learn new words? On social media, do we comment on our first thought or reaction? Or do we pause to think about how our comments will be received by others? Or how our comments may be a reflection of ourselves? How do we decide when and which notifications to turn on or off? Do we go offline when writing a paper or reading a e-book?
The bottom line is how do we control the quality of our screen time, rather than allowing the quantity of screen time to control us?