Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

No Devices During Meal Time

by Mike Murphy, Headmaster
The word “no” can make some people grit their teeth. Add the word “devices” and the phrase “No Devices” has the potential to appear to be a violation of human rights. How can anyone stay in touch with friends if they are not on a device? How can parents be assured their children are safe if the child does not have access to a device? These sentences are not written with an intent to be sarcastic. The “need” to be connected to others with the use of a device has become a way of life for many people. I am currently reading a new book “iGen” by San Diego State University Psychology Professor, Dr. Jean Twenge. Dr. Twenge researches long-term studies that help identify how various generations of people such as Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and now, iGen, differ from each other.

She does not attempt to cast judgement on any of the generations but rather presents data about how each group uses (used) their time and how they relate to others. I know her data will make some people very angry, and therefore dismissive of her results. But here is the bottom line. Teens today, the members of iGen, spend less time doing work, participating in extracurricular activities, doing homework, reading, partying, and going out with friends than previous generational groups. The gaps in time spent on those activities by previous generations are now filled with screen time by iGen. The author/researcher has observed from massive studies that members of iGen wait longer to get jobs, drivers licenses, date, have sex and drink alcohol than the members of Gen X and the Millenials. For many people that sounds like good news. It may be or may be more complex than a simple good/bad response.

However, Dr. Twenge poses a few interesting questions parents, educators and teens may want to consider. First, what is the impact on one’s ability to interact with others, learn to resolve interpersonal concerns and develop relationships when less and less time is used to have the experiences that allow one to develop those skills? Second, if young people are delaying exploration and involvement of activities often considered adult, could they be delaying the development of judgement and decision making skills needed to live healthy and responsible adult lives? Regrettably, there are no longitudinal studies that show the development of the frontal lobe of teens who were Boomers and Gen Xers to compare them with the frontal lobes of iGen’ers. Wouldn’t that be interesting!

But, back to devices, and more specifically “No Devices During Lunch Time in the Dining Rooms at Shorecrest.” Similar to the rule we have established about No Food or Drinks in the Janet Root Theatre, there will be some growing pains as we teach children and adults that we are serious about ensuring that human interaction during meal time is the expectation and norm. There is sound research that shows the benefits of non-interrupted face-to-face time. I am counting on the faculty, adult visitors and students to embrace this rule and realize that it is for the good of our community and the personal development of all our students that we institute a No Device During Meal Time Rule.

Cheers!

Mike

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.