With the HSC exams soon approaching, and the Year 12 students very much focussed and fine-tuning their preparations to do their best, it is timely to outline some of the specific challenges this group faces, and provide some tips on how they can reach their potential. Dr Philip Tam, Knox Researcher in Residence, shares his tips.
Dr Philip Tam, Psychiatrist and Knox Researcher in Residence
All the students at this point are now, of course, young adults and should be able to demonstrate responsibility, self-reflective skills, and honesty in how they are performing and what things might be holding them back.
This does not just apply to having healthy online and digital habits, but also to how they are performing generally, how their physical and mental wellbeing is going, and how healthy their social and personal circles are.
"Make sure you have a structured study plan, set reasonable goals and targets for each day, and do reward yourself with some non-study activities throughout the day – preferably outdoor exercise, rather than an online activity."
Here are two simple, practical steps a student can take to avoid this digital distraction.
One is to keep the chosen study area / desk at home, a completely device-free zone except for the computer needed for any study. Place all phones, iPods, gaming consoles, etc in another room, completely out of sight.
"We know from research that, even if devices are not being actively used, a small amount of the brain’s capacity is being ‘used up’ in thinking about them, even if this is unconscious."
For example, the brain may be ‘on the alert’ for notifications to come in, at random times. We must train our brain to know that the study area is for just that, and the ‘device zone’ can be visited, at set times, in a controlled manner.
Another practical tip is to program time-allowances into the device, prior to using them. Many apps and device features will be able to do this. The phone or device can then give a warning after, say, 10 or 15 mins usage, to finish use, or it could shut itself off at a set time. I suggest only employing these ‘external’ methods, if self-monitoring of online time does not work. It is much better, in the long term, to learn to take responsibility and self-motivated action to limit digital distraction.
An easy-to-use strategy I teach families and clients is to think of the ‘Three Ts’ whenever one commences an online activity, no matter how large or small. These stand for:
20 February 2020
A significant challenge over the next ten years is the continued acceleration of social and technological change. Technology is no longer a separate strand of learning, rather, an integrated tool. Supporting young people to become critical and ethical users of technology will continue to be an important consideration for Knox.
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