Building healthy tech habits at a young age

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - Half of American teens admit they feel addicted to their mobile device. 78 percent say they check their mobile device hourly, according to a study from Common Sense, a non-profit organization that promotes safe technology and media for children.

Teachers, administrators and parents at Dodge Elementary School in the Williamsville Central School District are tackling those tech troubles and trying to instill healthy tech habits through its program, No Tech Tuesdays.

Since screens and technology can't be completely eliminated from schools, the effort encourages parents and families to unplug and shut off all technology (phones, tablets, televisions etc.) one day a week after school.

"People are losing touch with the communication and family aspect so this is one way to bring families together," Principal Charlie Smilinich explained. "Sometimes we lose sight of that by going home and it's easier sometimes to put our children, my own children speaking, on an iPad as opposed to really spending time with your children asking what's going on with school."

The program was introduced by the school's wellness team as an initiative for the month of March, but many parents have continued to follow No Tech Tuesdays and the school is considering expanding the challenge for all of next school year.

"The children need to learn how to talk with each other and be comfortable with that, be able to understand emotions from one person to another," said Laurie Colucci, fourth grade science teacher and wellness coordinator. "When they're on their screens all the time they don't get that feeling."

The effort was spearheaded by Dana Hensley, a parent volunteer on the wellness team. She has four children, three of them attend Dodge Elementary. None of her kids have cell phones or their own tablets and Hensley is careful about how much time they spend each day watching television or on the computer.

"The decisions that we've made regarding technology reflect that I just want to take things a little bit slower with them," Hensley said. "Technology has a lot of great things that it can offer us, but it also has a lot of addictive qualities."

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