Technology is a fundamental part of daily life and has a significant impact in both work and school. The use of technology and its presence in education at all levels is rapidly increasing. It is impacting all phases of the teaching-learning process, including assessments. While technology offers abundant benefits in education, it is important to examine its impact on the mental health of young students. As these students spend more time using digital devices and engaging with technology platforms, it is essential to understand how this exposure affects their mental well-being.
Technology in education
Traditional face-to-face teaching has always been an effective method of teaching and learning. Technological developments in the last century have permeated every aspect of our lives, including education. It has been established that technology adds value to the conventional education process.
The use of technology in education took a quantum leap due to the lockdown caused by the pandemic. Technology was essentially a life preserver for education and was proven effective for educating students without face-to-face interaction.
Technology use in modern education
Educational technology provides tools that perform complex tasks quickly and efficiently. Educators use these tools to help meet the needs of their students, and students use them as aids to help them learn and practice. The use of digital tools in education boosts student engagement and assists teachers in making better and more effective lesson plans. It also helps students develop critical thinking skills and personalizes focused learning. Educational technology such as audio, video, web conferencing, and augmented reality provides virtual classrooms with online lectures, learning material, blogs, digital academic games, self-assessments, and evaluations. Technology makes the teaching-learning process interesting and interactive for both teachers and students.
Schools are expanding their available technology resources in order to best prepare students for the rapidly changing technological world. Teachers are adopting technology to make their lectures more impactful and easier to understand, and students are adopting it to improve their learning.
Impact of technology on student learning
The impact of technology on student learning is indisputable. It has revolutionized the teaching-learning experience by providing equal access to vast information and resources, promoting collaboration and communication, enhancing engagement and interactivity, developing critical thinking skills, and improving accessibility and inclusivity. Below are details about key viewpoints on the outcomes of technology available in schools.
Access to information and resources
One of the significant advantages of technology in schools is the access it provides to vast educational resources. The internet gives easy access to digital libraries, e-books and online academic data sources. These resources foster independent learning and enable students to explore beyond the limitations of traditional textbooks. Students can deepen their understanding and develop critical thinking skills.
Adaptive learning platforms and intelligent tutoring systems—made available by technology—provide targeted instruction and learning based on students’ abilities. This personalized approach helps students effectively grasp complex concepts, boosting their confidence and motivation to learn.
Collaboration and communication
Technology provides easy ways for students to collaborate and communicate with their peers and teachers. Students engage in real-time group projects, discussions, and virtual meetings, regardless of their physical location. Online platforms and tools facilitate seamless communication and collaboration, breaking the barriers of time and distance.
Collaborative environments promote teamwork, improve communication skills, and provide the ability to work effectively with like-minded people. Students learn from each other, gain different perspectives, and develop important social and interpersonal skills.
Engagement and interactivity
Traditional teaching-learning methods often lead to boredom among students. Technology, however, offers interactive and immersive learning experiences that capture students’ attention and enhance their engagement. Schools can make lessons more interactive and experiential by incorporating multimedia elements into lesson plans, such as videos, simulations, and virtual reality.
By utilizing virtual experiments and simulations, lessons provide interactive experiences that might not be possible in traditional classroom settings. For example, a history lesson on ancient civilizations can be brought to life through virtual tours of archaeological sites or interactive timelines. These engaging learning experiences make education enjoyable and improve students’ information retention and understanding.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
Technology incites students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Instead of relying solely on memorization, students are encouraged to analyze information, evaluate its credibility, and think critically to solve complex problems, fostering analytical thinking skills. Students can showcase their creativity and innovation using technology-provided platforms. Digital tools for content creation, such as multimedia presentations and video editing, empower students to express their ideas in unique and imaginative ways. Education technology fosters creativity, communication, and critical thinking, as students consider how best to present their ideas and engage their audience.
Accessibility and inclusivity
Technology has made education more accessible and inclusive for students with diverse needs. It helps bridge geographical barriers, making education accessible to students in remote areas or those unable to physically attend school. Students with physical or intellectual disabilities benefit from assistive technologies that provide customized learning support. Text-to-speech, speech recognition, screen readers, and other tools assist students with reading and writing difficulties, enabling them to fully participate in the learning process. Students can access quality education with the best teachers and resources, regardless of their location.
Technology in schools has a profound impact on students’ mental health. By harnessing the benefits of technology and combining it with skilled teaching, schools can empower students and equip them with the skills necessary to thrive in the digital age.
Benefits of technology use in schools
Educational technology has numerous benefits in the teaching-learning process, whether technology is used in the classroom or after school. Technology use in schools offers significant benefits to all three stakeholders—school, teachers, and students—that can positively impact the mental health of young people.
Personalized learning and support
Teaching- and earning tailored to an individual student’s needs, abilities, and learning styles is possible with technology that enables personalized learning experiences. Targeted instruction helps students grasp complex concepts more effectively. Real-time feedback enabled by technology allows teachers to monitor student progress and promptly identify areas requiring attention. Personalized learning promotes a positive learning experience, reducing stress and anxiety and providing better mental health support for young students.
Mental health support and resources
Digital platforms and apps dedicated to the mental well-being of young students offer mindfulness exercises and guided meditation sessions. Schools can leverage technology to provide online counseling, anonymous helplines, and support for loneliness and stress management.
Maximizing benefits and minimizing risks
To harness the benefits of technology in schools while minimizing potential risks to mental health, several strategies can be implemented.
- Digital well-being education – Students are told about the healthy or correct use of technology, responsible online behavior, and digital risks. This education should include discussions on media literacy, critical thinking, and setting boundaries for screen time.
- Controlling screen time – a healthy balance between online and offline activities is essential. Schools can promote physical activities, social interactions, and creative pursuits to counterbalance excessive screen exposure.
- Collaboration with parents – Active collaboration with parents is enabled through technology. Schools can engage with parents through emails, live video chats, workshops, and informational sessions to minimize risks posed by technology, as well as maximize its usefulness.
- The school environment – A supportive environment makes students feel safe and confident to discuss their concerns about technology. Schools should stay updated on the latest research and best practices regarding technology’s impact on mental health.
- Evaluation – Integrating regular evaluations about the use of technology and its effects on student mental health and well-being can inform the school of necessary adjustments and improvements that should be made.
Additionally, deploying education technology tools in schools provides students with the following benefits:
- Knowledge springs into action.
- Critical thinking skills are sharpened.
- Earned knowledge is put into practice.
- Motivation and engagement are improved.
- Students acquire better communication skills.
- Students can learn, review lectures, and rewatch videos at times that are convenient for them.
The challenges of using technology in schools
Technology usage in schools poses many challenges that impact the mental health of young students. Many of these challenges can be managed through the help of school counselors. Teachers who are interested in making a career change from teacher to school counselor can do so with the help of online courses such as the MSED in School Counseling from St. Bonaventure University. The program is not only focused on academics; it also helps individuals develop their people skills. The MSED in School Counseling online program will assist them in gaining the knowledge to help children and teens in school who are struggling with mental health issues.
Some of the critical challenges faced by students while using technology in school are:
Increased screen time
Students spend considerable time every day watching screens on their computers, tablets, and smartphones for both educational and non-educational purposes. Excessive screen time, however, has been found to create several health and mental health issues, including:
Eye strain – Extended screen time causes eye dryness, strain, and discomfort that leads to headaches and eyesight issues.
Sleep disturbances – The use of digital devices at bedtime can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and difficulty concentrating the following day.
Physical health – Sitting, holding, and working with digital devices for long hours strains the body’s muscles, causing physical problems such as pain in the back, neck, and muscles.
Social isolation – When more time is spent on technology for communication and learning, face-to-face interactions are reduced and social isolation becomes more commonplace, influencing mental well-being.
Cyberbullying and online harassment
The rise in the education technology use has increased the risk of cyberbullying and online harassment. Social media platforms and online forums provide avenues for negative interactions and behavior. A student may experience cyberbullying, which can have severe consequences on mental health, including anxiety, depression, and a decline in academic performance. Schools must implement robust measures to address online harassment, cyberbullying, and similar social media threats, as well as support affected students.
Young minds are raw and are quickly influenced by what they see. Technology platforms used at home and in school give access to messages regarding body image, and young people sometimes compare those images with themselves. Social media platforms often showcase unrealistic, idealized, and curated versions of peoples’ lives, leading students to feel pressure to conform to similar norms., This often leads to increased self-esteem issues in young people. Schools need to teach students about digital literacy, including the prevalence of information manipulation on the internet and the importance of self-acceptance.
Information explosion issues
Technology brings easy access to information, both good and bad. This explosion of information often confuses young minds, and they cannot differentiate between fake and real. Additionally, it comes with the risk of hacking, spam, phishing and misguiding young people.
The use of education technology in schools can both benefit and challenge the mental health of young people. Balancing the various types of technology used in schools allows students to harness potential benefits while also minimizing risks. It is crucial to strike a balance that allows young people to thrive academically, emotionally, and mentally in the digital age.