When I first saw this term, I expected it to mean resting from working on a computer or a mobile device, but I was surprised that it meant allowing time for students to take a break from their homework or class work to check their social networking accounts, email, twitter, instant messaging, video game, YouTube or any other distraction that would keep a student from focusing on their school work.
Psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills recommends for children who spend 30 minutes on homework, to have 15 minutes of a tech break, then study again. The only thing in the article, “How a “tech break” can help students refocus,” that I can agree with is the statement Rosen argues:
that all our tech gadgets and applications are turning us into basket-cases suffering from versions of obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit syndrome.
I personally don’t believe that interrupting students at regular intervals from their homework to encourage their engagement into their favorite distracting behavioral apps is going to help.
I do agree however, if someone is thinking about, “Oh, I need to email someone about something specifically.” Then yes, stopping for a moment to get the distraction fulfilled so that the student can refocus back into their work, can be helpful. That is why, my students know they can ask my permission to do so, if they can give me a logical reason and then do it quickly.
In a sense I guess I do allow “tech breaks,” but not based on a timed clock but rather when a need arises. Because my students know that I am reasonable, they don’t take advantage of this by doing it in secret and hoping that they don’t get caught. I would rather have a student be responsible in their computer usage and then just ask when an exception needs to be made.
Using technology and teaching students how to use technology is my job. However, I think it is also my job to help students find a balance so that they don’t become addicted to using technology. Taking a break from technology, by taking a walk, having a conversation with friends or playing a sport is vital to establishing a balanced life.