Analyzing Tech Use Through Infographics
There’s no doubt about it: Technology has a massive impact on our health. Often times, we focus on the negative when it comes to teens and tech use— sleep deprivation, procrastination, cyberbullying, implicit text messages, the list goes on. But technology presents teens with some amazing opportunities, as well.
Technology can help students access information we never would have dreamed of, use the power of social media to change the world, and help marginalized students find their tribe.
It’s important that we as teachers and parents give teenagers time to take an analytical look at the different ways technology impacts their health and the health of those around them so that they can learn to keep their habits in check.
At my school, in order to approach the topic in a balanced way, we have students pick one area of technology for which they’ll create an infographic based on what they learned in their research. Not only do they learn more about a topic they’re passionate about, but they also gain a new (fun!) skill that they can transfer to other classes. This project is always a big hit with the kids.
Students pick one of the following areas of technology and personal health, do some research, and think about the opportunities and challenges it affords us.
They then create an infographic to advocate for the healthy use of their technology topic area using an awesome graphic design program like Canva or Piktochart. (Both require an account but are completely free.)
Some possible areas of focus for their project:
- Technology’s influence on communication: Reaching out to distant friends and relatives vs. ignoring the ones right in front of us for our screens
- Digital footprints: Building a positive online presence vs. posting things you’ll regret down the line
- The power of social media: Advocating for social change vs. cyberbullying, procrastination, and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Video games: Forming a community and developing hand-eye coordination vs. possible social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle
- Productivity and physical health: Apps that help with time management and fitness tracking vs. tech distractions that can lead to sleep deprivation
Head to my website for a link to a student rubric. The instructions are vague for a reason: I want the kids to surprise me with what they’re able to create… and so far, I’ve seen some really great work.
My only requirements are that they include at least four facts and that they cite their sources by copying the URL on the bottom of their printed infographic. I also tell them:
- Don’t forget the tools for effective advocacy: Know your audience, state your opinion, and back it up with facts.
- Remember your audience. You’re showing your projects to your fellow students, so think about what you would find appealing in a poster.
- Make sure your infographic looks clean and appealing. Too much text, and you’ll lose your audience quickly.
- Remember, positive peer pressure always works best, so end on a high note. If you’re focusing on one of the challenges of technology use on our health, offer some suggestions for how people can better manage their habits. Instead of creating an entire infographic telling people that we’re doomed to sleep deprivation, for example, let them know that if they shut down their screens 30 minutes before bed, they can get a better night’s sleep!
For more on the influence of technology on our health, check out Choices’ May 2015 cover story, “Help, I Can’t Put Down my Phone!