Unesco recently called for a ban on smartphones in schools due to concerns about classroom disruption, student performance and cyberbullying.
The UN report emphasised the human dimension of education, urging policymakers to prioritise face-to-face interaction with teachers and consider the negative impacts of excessive use of digital technology.
As a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting social-emotional learning and compassionate communication in schools, we believe that it is crucial to address this issue in our society. The use of technology in schools is a growing concern worldwide; mobile devices could distract students, reduce social interaction and affect students’ health. For example, they might prevent students from getting the rest they need. However, technology does offer benefits like enhanced connectivity, access to information and increased engagement, which can help students satisfy their needs for friendship and learning.
In Hong Kong, where many students are introduced to technology at a young age, it is vital to ensure the appropriate use of technology, thus maximising advantages while addressing potential drawbacks.
At JUST FEEL, we support the Education Bureau’s focus on information literacy and e-safety, and our work is aligned with their initiative. Our partnership with the Keswick Foundation is aimed at building a compassionate environment for digital natives. Our social-emotional learning curriculum incorporates elements of technology based on the DQ Institute’s digital intelligence framework. It covers a range of topics that can help students navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Topics include personal network security management, digital empathy, balanced use of technology, online behaviour risk management, media and information literacy, and interpersonal relationship management.
We have also conducted workshops on digital citizenship to empower teachers and parents to nurture students through compassionate communication. Many participants say they have learned the importance of understanding the underlying needs of students who are addicted to technology, instead of simply focusing on limiting technology use.
In conclusion, we urge the community to engage in discussion on how technology can affect students’ social and emotional development. Let us work together to create a more compassionate and empathetic society that enhances the emotional well-being of students.
Raymond Yang Sze-ngai, co-founder and executive director, JUST FEEL