Let’s face it – our children are distracted.
When they are supposed to do their homework, the siren call of digital distractions is just too strong to resist. My son’s favorite is memes. I would estimate that any given hour of his homework is 10 minutes work, and 50 minutes time wasted on mindless entertainment.
- They are watching YouTube and TikTok.
- They are browsing Instagram and Snapchat.
- They are playing Minecraft and Roblox and AmongUs.
All the time while pretending to do “homework”. Getting their fake “education”.
It’s not their fault. It’s not a flaw in their character. Nor is it our parenting failure either. It’s an intentional design of the industry that makes its profits from human attention – regardless of the human cost. The resistance to “digital heroin” is futile, especially for a young undeveloped brain.
If in the days of old parents had an option to request a pen-and-paper homework from the teacher, in the time of COVID-19 distance learning it is a distant dream.
To help our children actually learn, we wrote this simple list of guidelines:
The 7 Habits for Most Effective Computer-Based Homework
- Single-device homework. No multiple screens to preserve focus. Put that phone away – far away, in another room, and turn off all notifications so you can’t hear it while you are concentrating on your work.
- Do not open any extra tabs on the browser unless they are research about your current project.
- Do not listen to engaging music with lyrics, it distracts your brain. Background instrumental music is ok (we bought this simple player for our son so he can listen to his Spotify playlists offline). There is even special music designed for focus and concentration to help block out audio distractions (such as noisy annoying parents or siblings).
- Prepare everything you need in advance – books and any other paper-based sources, snacks if you get hungry, water – so you don’t have to get up to fetch those items and get side-tracked from your work.
- Commit to working a certain amount of time, or accomplishing certain milestones, or both, and stick to your commitment.
- Try not to space out, bring your mind back to work if you do.
- If you are still struggling, ask your parents to contact the school and ask to replace computer-based homework with paper-based assignments when possible. They can also use parental controls to restrict the homework device to educational content only.
That’s it. Building these healthy study habits will help you become a star student, complete your assignments faster (and therefore have more time for “recreational” screen time), and eventually become a successful adult.