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Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Blame social media, video games for behavior problems in school, educators say

Posted: 02/13/17 10:17am CST

Growing up in the social media age is doing more harm than good, according to a school counsellor on the northeast Avalon.

Boyd Perry said having access to a limitless world of information can be beneficial to learning, but many young kids are not equipped to handle the flood of information they are getting through their screens.

“Young people have more access and more information. We automatically think that’s a good thing,” said Perry.

“They aren’t yet ready … to develop a critical way of analyzing the information they are getting.”

During CBC’s education forum, Inside the Classroom, featuring 30 educators from across the province, several teachers and counsellors raised issues about social media, video games, and their impact on student behaviours.

Social media issues

“A lot of the problems we have in school are because of social media,” said Joe Santos, a high school teacher on the northeast Avalon.

“There’s very few students now in schools that don’t have some kind of device they can communicate with.”

Students are speaking behind each other’s backs and sometimes making sinister plans in total silence — out of earshot from intervening teachers.

Santos said some of the issues they’ve encountered range from settling scores with violence, to making drug deals, all arranged quietly through the use of cell phones in school.

Up all night

Technology raised concerns with other teachers as well, who spoke of students coming to class zonked after long nights of video gaming.

“They’re too tired to learn,” said Kimberly Fifield, an elementary school teacher on the northeast Avalon.

“They could fall asleep in class, they could become agitated, they’re more irritable. They’re just unable to focus on what you’re trying to teach them in the run of a day.”

According to Santos, attendance rates go down after the release of a highly anticipated video game, as his students stay up all night to finish the game.

The long hours spent playing video games, sometimes graphic and violent, can have an impact over time, said Angela Wilmott, a school counsellor in central Newfoundland.

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