UEN Teacher Tips


Screen Time: It’s About Quality
How the 4C’s can guide your screen time decisions
by Dani Sloan

As a classroom teacher, you’ve probably found yourself pondering the ever-elusive question: How much screen time is right for my students? The truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is clear that children under 18 months should avoid screen time, but things get hazy after that, especially for kids, tweens and teens. Instead of considering screen time as a set number of minutes, let’s shift our perspective on screen time and focus on quality.  

 Now, let’s tackle another question: What in the world is high-quality screen time? Screen time is valuable when we lean into the 4 C’s: creating, collaborating, critical thinking and communication. 

  • Creating involves using tech to craft something entirely new — a digital drawing of a book character, an informative webpage about hand washing, or a video lesson on magma.

  • Collaborating means using tools to foster teamwork — a group of students working together to draft a persuasive essay about school calendars, classrooms comparing science experiment results in real-time, or building a resource library for a project on air quality.

  • Critical thinking is about using technology to dig deeper — from creating graphic organizers with informative links to debating social media’s impacts with artificial intelligence or evaluating information by fact-checking.

  • Communication is all about using tech to connect — whether it be learning penguin feeding schedules from a zookeeper, conversing in French with native speakers, or blogging thoughts on the American Civil War. 

 Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, tablets and even phones can be incredible tools for enhancing understanding, offering students choice and voice and allowing them to showcase their work. When appropriate, encourage students to choose the device and the app that suits the task at hand. Whether it’s a stop motion video, blog post, diagram, model, voice recording, or a good old paragraph, the World Wide Web lets students share their creations with other learners worldwide. The learning happening in your classroom is important and deserves to be shared.  

If you're integrating technology in the classroom purposefully and creatively, you’re on the right track. Don't worry too much about the minutes on the clock. Just make sure your students’ screen time is high-quality, enriching and truly beneficial.


Check out the video below to learn more about creating high-quality screen time for your students.

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Dr. Dani Sloan helps educators lead, research and teach digital citizenship. She's a UEN Product Manager, former Elementary Teacher and current mom to a fifth grader. Dani is passionate about preparing students for a digital world, her dachshunds and terrible reality TV.

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