We live in a world of screens. We read our morning paper on an iPad, commute while answering emails on our phones, go to work and stare at a computer monitor, come home and play games with our kids on a tablet, FaceTime with the grandparents, and read an e-book before bed. With all the technological advances, our world is smaller than ever before and access to any and all information lies at our fingertips.

There have been plenty of articles about how smartphones changed our working lives and how social media changed our social lives, but what about our children’s lives? How is their development and education affected by all these screens?

While the American Academy of Pediatrics still advises that children under 2 have no screen time and that older children’s screen time be limited, the recommendations for reading aloud to kids or playing educational games also remain. Screen time used to mean TV time, but now it can also mean reading time, study time, and development time.

At GEMS World Academy, we view technology as an integral role in a child’s education. Each classroom is equipped with interactive touch screens so students can connect with GEMS students all over the world. Our students use iPads to create multimedia content, and map their world on field study. Our Upper School students utilize MacBook Pro’s to code and other STEM projects in our unique two device to one student program. Each floor is equipped with iMac Desktops so they can work independently. Technological advances have given new life to traditional curriculum.

We agree with the AAP that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity and delayed development. At GEMS World Academy – Chicago, our Field Studies program encourages active, hands-on learning.  Our students go out, explore, and learn about the world. Unlike many Chicago schools, our students’ education is not limited to the classroom. The city is their campus and because of technology, they’re able to bring what they learn throughout the city, back to the classroom. While conventional screen time can be detrimental, we utilize the technology to enhance our students’ real-world experiences.

At home, it’s easy to get sucked into the world of screens and forget about the real-world around us. It’s also easy to make “screen time” something that is limited or given a negative connotation. Instead, we aim to embed meaningful use of technology and use it to enhance the learning process. Rather than limiting tablet use or positioning computer time as something that has to be earned, try blending the learning experience and see how technology can enhance, not replace, your family’s real-world experiences.

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