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Tips for Learners in a Digital World

Digital learning and online connectivity are increasingly integral to daily life. However, some kids (and adults) experience difficulty with computer-based activity. For example, they may become overwhelmed, distracted, or confused, or procrastinate or go off-track. The resulting lack of focus can short-circuit a person’s motivation and productivity. People who get sidelined, avoid tasks, or put things off run risks. These include jeopardizing academic and other forms of achievement, impeding skill-building, and thwarting creative expression.

This can be stressful!

It’s important for individuals to try to carve out the necessary time and space they need to meet demands, online or elsewhere. To that end, kids may require help figuring out best strategies to develop responsibility for time management and organization, and responsibility for their actions, decisions, consequences, and outcomes, too. Two questions—and answers—follow.

HOW CAN KIDS MAXIMIZE THEIR ONLINE PRODUCTIVITY AND FOCUS?

Here are some pointers. (These apply to adults, as well.)

  • MAINTAIN BALANCE. Think about your academic, intellectual, social, physical, and emotional needs. What’s really necessary for your well-being? Time for play? Family and friends? Relaxation? Exercise? Prioritize! Moreover, what online tasks or searches matter most, and what can you readily delay, reduce, or off-load? Maintaining balance involves using time wisely to focus on what’s essential.
  • STAY CALM. Be mindful when things are challenging, unfamiliar, or confusing. A well-equipped, quiet workspace can be beneficial. Eliminate distractions. Pace yourself comfortably.
  • BUILD NETWORKS OF SUPPORT. Share resources, embrace different viewpoints, and investigate diverse kinds of learning opportunities—such as virtual museums and galleries, mentors, and online communities. There are benefits to technological connectivity, teamwork, and co-created activities.
  • BE FLEXIBLE. Change is inevitable. John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Be resilient and willing to adjust your efforts when circumstances, devices, demands, or learning environments (digital, home, school, hybrid, or other) change.
  • BEWARE OVERLOAD. There’s an overwhelming glut of content online. Be selective. Ask a trusted adult (parent, teacher, family member) for guidance to appropriately manage and winnow the abundance of web-based sites, material, and resources.

HOW CAN PARENTS ENCOURAGE CHILDRENS’ ONLINE PRODUCTIVITY AND FOCUS?

These suggestions for parents can foster effective online behaviours and outcomes:

  • DEMONSTRATE STRATEGIES. Model resourcefulness, initiative, and learning curves while navigating digital landscapes. Share examples of how you set meaningful and realistic goals—and reach them. Show faith in children’s ability to do likewise.
  • EMPHASIZE ENJOYMENT. Affirm the pleasures of learning processes. Bolster children’s efforts and confidence; reassure them using reinforcement and positive messages; and inquire about their online experiences, practices, investigations, and accomplishments.
  • BE OPENMINDED. “Honour children’s capabilities, areas of weakness, interests, and temperament…. Provide opportunities for kids to express concerns or apprehensions, or to request additional help—and listen to what they say.” (ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 118)
  • FACILITATE AND RESPECT AUTONOMY. Children focus best when they feel confident, relaxed, and can strive toward independence. Scrutiny, rigidity, doubt, indifference, complexity, lack of choice, and vague or unrealistic expectations can be off-putting—impeding a child’s motivation, focus, and budding proficiency.
  • OTHER KEY FACTORS. Consider children’s processing speed; most productive time of day; learning preferences; and past experiences and successes with digital media and online networks. Schedule breaks. Be available to assist (without hovering). Most importantly, tasks should be authentically relevant, and simultaneously challenging and manageable.

AND, FINALLY…

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”
~ Albert Einstein

Every online milieux is a world unto itself. Ensure that the technology platforms and virtual venues your kids use are safe and secure, and that their screen habits are vigilant. Children who are attentive, resourceful, and determined take information acquisition into the realm of real and meaningful learning—and are more apt to focus, feel productive, and attain success.

Author’s Note: This article is updated from one written by Dr. Joanne Foster that was featured in issues of Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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