There are many ways in which technology is being implemented in the classroom to enrich the learning experience and expand knowledge. TedTalks, access to information, and connection with scholars from across the globe help teachers expand lessons with meaningful and engaging content. In addition to these benefits, the presence of digital media and the ways in which it is used can negatively impact acknowledge acquisition.

Digital distraction and the presence of digital devices, even when not used, negatively impact test scores and overall grades1, 2, 3. Writing by hand improves memory formation, working memory, letter recruitment and reading acquisition, idea creation, understanding of information and word recall as compared to typing4, 5, 6. In addition to the benefits of writing over typing, research also shows that reading text on paper increases comprehension, memory assimilation and satisfaction with reading7. Industry claims that online, personalized learning improve academic outcomes have not been substantiated by research8, 9.


  • To avoid digital distraction and information overload, avoid the use of media multitasking, remove notifications, and focus on one task at a time. As far as possible, schools and parents should require that devices used for school only be used for school. Remove notifications, alerts and distracting apps, including iMessage, from school devices. Schools can implement an “Away for the Day” policy of having phones turned off and stowed during the school day. Parents can require their students store digital devices, besides devices required to complete the task at hand, in a separate room. Encourage students to develop a plan that includes studying and engaging in non-school-related technology without doing both at the same time. Students will be better equipped to stay on task and remain focused while studying if they are supplied with the knowledge that they can check devices within a certain period of time.
  • Because writing by hand and reading printed materials activate parts of the brain linked to processing and memory formation more than typing and e-texts, students should be encouraged to take notes and develop ideas on paper, and reduce the use of e-texts. Teaching both traditional and digital modalities is associated with improved learning outcomes, particularly in elementary and middle school.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting gamified education. Many schools utilize computers as part of their curriculum and encourage computer use in and out of the classroom. While computers have tremendous educational and practical benefits, there are increasing concerns about gamified education. Schools can provide training to parents and educators to help them evaluate online tools to ensure optimized student learning. There is immense value in utilizing offline creative opportunities to learn.


Learn more from experts in these two Health Works Here podcasts. In Supporting Youth in Achieving Digital Wellness: Spiritual Health, Learning and Productivity, Anthony Rao, PsyD. talks with Adrienne Principe, founder and executive director of Turning Life On


In Supporting Youth in Achieving Digital Wellness: A Youth Perspective, Aliza Kopans, a high school senior and youth advisory board member for Children's Screen Time Action Network, shares her perspective on how people can support youth in making healthy digital choices.



  1. Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50, 906–914. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.09.006.
  2. Jacobsen W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 275–280. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0135.
  3. Ravizza, S. R., Uitvlugt, M. G., & Fenn, K. M. (2017). Logged in and zoned out: How laptop internet use impacts classroom learning. Psychological Science, 28, 171–180. doi:10.1177/0956797616677314.
  4. Berninger VW, Abbott RD, Jones J, et al. Early development of language by hand: composing, reading, listening, and speaking connections; three letter-writing modes; and fast mapping in spelling. Dev Neuropsychol. 2006;29(1):61-92. doi:10.1207/s15326942dn2901_5.
  5. Mueller PA, Oppenheimer DM. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Psychological Science. 2014;25(6):1159-1168. doi:10.1177/0956797614524581.
  6. Mangen, Anne & Anda, Liss & Oxborough, Gunn & Brønnick, Kolbjørn. (2015). Handwriting versus Keyboard Writing: Effect on Word Recall. Journal of Writing Research. 7. 227-247. 10.17239/jowr-2015.07.02.1.
  7. Yiren Kong, Young Sik, Seo Ling Zhai. (2018). Comparison of reading performance on screen and on paper: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, Volume 123, Pages 138-149.
  8. Molnar, Alex, Gary Miron, Najat Elgeberi, Michael K. Barbour, Luis Huerta, Sheryl Rankin Shafer, and Jennifer King Rice. “Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019”, May 28, 2019.
  9. OECD. “Students, Computers and Learning”, 2015.