Student laying on floor with tablet

During Digital Citizenship Week (October 16-20) we shared an opportunity with students to become featured guest bloggers, and we had some 5th graders from Arthur C. Butler Elementary School and some 3rd graders from Robert J. McGarvey Elementary School join in the fun. We asked a few questions to get a better idea of how they spend their time online and offline. 

Sean, a 5th grade student from Butler Elementary, shared that his favorite thing to do online is to code using Scratch, a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. He spends his afterschool time coding new games and trying to learn how more functions work. He collaborates with his friends by asking them for feedback on his games. Check out Common Sense Media’s Parents’ Guide to Scratch to learn more about their web-based platform. 

Long, another 5th grade student from Butler Elementary, mentioned that he spends his afterschool time playing sports and video games like Minecraft and chatting with his friends. If you don’t know much about Minecraft, you can dive deeper into the choose-your-own-adventure world by checking out Common Sense Media’s Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Minecraft. The sky’s the limit when it comes to building in Minecraft. The game allows kids to use their imaginations to build virtually anything. You can also check out this article by David Dodge, the CEO and founder of CodaKid – 6 Great Ways Minecraft Can Help You Bond with Your Child

Also from Butler Elementary, 5th grader Jace’s favorite thing to do is to play Pokémon. He spends afterschool time doing homework and, on weekends, playing his favorite Pokémon video games. Pokémon originated from Japan when Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green debuted on the Game Boy in 1996. It took two years after the debut for Pokémon to reach North America through the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, coinciding with the introduction of the animated series. Since its inception, Pokémon video games have remained the cornerstone of the franchise, captivating enthusiasts worldwide. Pokémon video games cater to a wide audience, appealing to everyone from young children to seasoned fans. Additionally, Pokémon games have expanded to mobile platforms, with Pokémon GO being a favorite. Check out Pokémon Parents to help guide you through all things Pokémon.

Dominic, Hailey and Kristine, 3rd graders from Robert J. McGarvey Elementary School, shared that they spend their online time playing Minecraft and math games and drawing on their tablets. Common Sense Media showcases some favorites in their Best Math Games, Websites, and Apps for Kids list. With a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in some of our schools, there are tons of apps and websites that promise to improve kids’ math skills. If art and creativity peaks your interest more, Common Sense Media also highlights free and paid subscription Painting and Drawing Apps for Students of all ages.  

After learning about our student’s favorite online activities, we shifted focus to activities they enjoyed away from their tech devices. It was really encouraging to see that our students enjoy outdoor time with siblings and friends playing soccer, volleyball, football and baseball. Indoor activities included drawing and playing board games.

A good balance is key, and when asked what their families do to make sure they balance their online/offline time, several students shared that time limits are set by their parents as to how long they can spend online each day. One student mentioned earning online gaming time by completing extra chores. Several families set timers ranging from 20 minutes to 3 hours to manage online time during the school week, allowing for more time on weekends. 

As we head into winter break and the upcoming holidays, it’s important to set expectations with your kids when it comes to spending time online vs. engaging with people in-person. Balancing screen time with in-person interactions with family and friends is important for overall well-being. Excessive screen time has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns, decreased attention spans, and potential social and emotional challenges.

We invite you to use these Common Sense Media tech planners to help you and your kids think through important questions around tech use:

EnglishAges 2-8  |  Ages 9-12  |  Ages 13+

SpanishEdad 2-8  |  Edad 9-12  |  Edad 13+

We wish you all a digitally balanced end of the year full of fun online and offline activities.