Education in the Digital Age with Dr. Marlena Reese, Ed.D. : Part 2

May 22, 2023

Education in the Digital Age with Dr. Marlena Reese, Ed.D. : Part 2

Last month, we spoke with Dr. Marlena Reese to understand some of the Executive Function challenges students today are experiencing. As a society, we are collectively learning how to navigate working with technology while also being distracted by it. How many times have you gone on the internet to look up on thing, and found yourself checking social media or the latest recipe? It can be frustrating, but we must remember that “technology is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’” says Marlena, JF&CS’ Executive Function Coach. “It is a tool, and it’s here to stay. We must learn how to use it to benefit ourselves.”

To help kids (and their parents) work with technology as a tool, it must not be the only tool to meet their needs.

“We all have basic human needs that have to be met in order for us to do the things we need to do, but sometimes kids don’t fully understand what their needs are or how they’re trying to meet them,” says Marlena. When it comes to school and studying, “Executive Functioning skills are strengthened when we are meeting our other needs.”

“Sometimes parents will start by, say, having a conversation with their kids about whether or not being on TikTok is ‘good,’ she says. “But the real conversation needs to be about how are we spending our time, period. Are we doing the things we want to do? What are our goals? If we’re not accomplishing things because we’re distracted by tech, how can we put boundaries in place?”

The second part of helping kids work with technology is educating them in an age-appropriate way about how apps are engineered to keep users engaged, thus fueling distraction. They may be surprised to learn how algorithms work, and that it is less under their control than they might believe.

What other types of social, creative or physical activities can also meet their needs?

Parents can help their children consider these questions and find ways to meet their needs that may or may not involve technology.

Guiding our kids to understand their needs can empower them to engage in technology more thoughtfully. “(Self-care) is a deeply personal thing and can look different for everyone. It’s not healthy to let any one thing take over, whether it be school, work or technology,” she says. “Kids can start by noticing what activities are restorative to them and making the time to do them in an engaged and intentional way.”

“Online gaming, for example, can be a really great way for young people to build community and connection, two things that are hugely important for people of all ages,” she says.

“Recently, I was working with a student and I told her mom that I thought she needed a 30-minute break after school to recharge,” she said. “Her mom said, ‘I wish I had 30 minutes to do whatever I want.’ My response was, “You should have that. Everyone should.”

Many students have trouble with Executive Functioning from time to time, but sometimes they need a little extra help. If your student is struggling, you can find more information about Executive Function coaching here.

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