Check out these tips and activities from Common Sense Media to help families and teens find media balance in their lives.
The digital world plays an important role in the lives of our middle schoolers, but do they know how to balance the pull of technology with the other interests and responsibilities of their daily lives? This is the question we worked to answer this week during our schoolwide Common Sense Media digital citizenship lesson. Students had a chance to reflect on tech habits that are tipping the scales and leaving them off balance. They worked together to come up with a plan to improve their digital habits and create more balance in their daily lives.
For example, many kids expressed how easy it is to start playing video games as soon as they get home from school, and they often don’t have time to do homework, chores, or hobbies because it was hard to stop gaming. After some discussion and problem solving, they decided they could work on developing the habit of completing their responsibilities before they turn on the games. This is a great solution and may need some parent intervention to be put into action.
We also learned about how the amount of time we spend on certain types of technology can negatively affect our moods and sleeping habits. Students discussed how they feel pressure to stay connected all the time, or they go to bed at a reasonable time but stay up late (alarmingly late) watching youtube or scrolling social media. Students then considered options like turning off notifications, scheduling time to unplug, setting restrictions, or leaving their phones in another room to charge at night.
8th graders learned how to tell the difference between digital media that has an addictive design compared to a humane design. This may have been the most insightful lesson of them all. Humane designs have “features or aspects of the device or app that prioritize what is good for people’s lives” compared to addictive designs that are “intended to hook the user into frequent use.” Students were surprised to find out that some of their favorite features such as notifications, tags, autoplay and so many more were all deliberately designed to create addiction. No wonder it is so hard to pull away from the media world and balance the tech in our lives. The good news is, they are not empowered with tools to help them overcome the addictive components.
The featured author of the week was 43rd President George W. Bush. Since leaving office, he has authored several books. WOMS library is currently showcasing his work, “Portraits of Courage,” a collection of portraits painted by Bush and essays written by the former president to honor wounded veterans that severed when he was commander in chief.
Students were encouraged to unleash their creativity with creation stations set up in the library. The stations included stop motion, blackout poetry, legos, stacking straws, and water coloring upcycled book pages and postcards. It was so fun to watch kids shine and enjoy creating!
Simply setting out a few sanitizable games around the library has really livened things up! Kids have been popping in to play Connect Four, Suspend, and Checkers just to name a few of the games we’ve set out. At times things have gotten pretty intense due to the competitvie nature of middle schoolers (and teachers), but it has been so nice to see everyone take a break from their phones for some old fashiond fun!
This Valentine’s Day students learned all about how to build self-esteem and show love to themselves during our Pop-Up library club! We had over 40 middle schoolers take time out of their day to celebrate what makes them unique and loved. In addition, they learned 26 new ways to practice kindness to themselves! Check out our presentation here.
This month our library is featuring African American authors, activists, and world-changers in honor of black history month. We added several new books to our collection, but students are most excited to see Jason Reynold’s Track series added to our sports fiction section. And just in time for track season, too! Click here to check out the author himself reading chapter 1 of “Ghost,” the first book in the track series.
Our Scholastic Book Fair was a great success this year, and because of our community’s support, the library was able to purchase a plethora of new books to grow our collection! We even started a new section called Fun Facts. The Fun Facts section includes high-interest, nonfiction books such as “National Geographic’s Weird But True” and “Guinness Book of World Records” just to name a few. This section is already so popular with our middle schoolers, most of the books never even made it to the shelf before they were checked out. To celebrate all the new titles, students got to enter their name in a drawing to be the first to check out the new books. Pictured here are the proud winners!
I am so excited to get our middle schoolers excited about personal growth books! This section was just set up today and is already almost empty. Personal growth books are designed to help our kids develop a growth mindset, understand themselves, improve relationships, build character, and have the tools they need to navigate the challenging circumstances they face in middle school. Yay for personal growth at WOMS!
White Oak Middle School wants to give a big shout out to Western Weatherseal for their generous donation to the library! Students were able to vote for books they would like added to our collection, and those votes were used to select 33 new high-interest titles! We are exceedingly grateful Maria Yosten chose to partner with the library to support literacy and fuel our kids’ passions for reading.