“I wish everyday was Wellness Day”

17 Apr

On March 28, 2018, F.W. Johnson Collegiate hosted their annual Wellness Day. Wellness Day is put on for all grade 10 students, and brings together various speakers, organizations, and agencies surrounding positive wellness. Students have a choice of different sessions to attend throughout their morning, culminating in a final keynote speaker for the entire group to end the day.

Pet therapy, art therapy, Planned Parenthood, The Schizophrenia Society, the SGI Safety Squad, Cyberbullying, nutrition, fitness, body image, Canadian Mental Health Association, plus more were some of the options for sessions and presenters our students could choose from. This year, I asked the organizing committee – the Bachelor of Science in Nursing 4th year practicum students and a teacher in our building, if I could present on Digital Wellness. As I am not currently teaching Wellness 10 right now, I thought this would be a great way to share with students what I have learned this semester in EC&I 832 and for my major project.

I ended up with two sessions of about 20 students each which I thought was fantastic! I wasn’t sure if students would sign up for it, or be drawn by some of the other “cooler”  sessions.

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When I was planning my presentation, I knew I wanted to make room for a lot of discussion with students and for their input, and I also wanted to focus on how we can positively improve our digital health, rather than just talk about all the ways technology and social media is harming young people much like them today. I am sure they hear it enough from parents – and from other teachers – how they are too addicted to their phones and can’t function without them.

I am not going to share my entire slideshow I used to guide my presentation, as I left a lot of the slides blank with just a question I posed, and then we discussed. Students were very engaged and willing to answer my questions as well as chat together. We started off by talking about how technology had changed over the years – much like Alec did in our first EC&I 832 class. I had them guess what technology was being talked about in a negative manner – they had no clue what a “walk-man” was!

We then got into the social media they use, and why it is great, because it really is great in a lot of ways! Snapchat and Instagram were the most used – apparently Facebook is “old news” and Twitter is only for old people. Snapchat and Instagram gave them a way to connect with friends, and share what they are doing.

We also discussed potential problems they saw with this technology. Cyberbullying, body image issues, addiction, distracted in school, all came up as issues. We also talked about what physical and psychological effects technology and social media can have. Negatively affecting sleep, feeling depressed, feeling anxious, being obsessed with the perfect filter, always comparing yourself to others, and eye problems were all effects they identified easily.

I tried to make the presentation as fun as possible – and brought it back to myself as much as I could.  I thought it was important for them to realize social media and technology addiction isn’t just a teenager thing, and that the more adults open up and discuss, can help students do the same. These are a few of the slides I used to talk about issues like “self-itis” and no mobile phone phobia or nomophobia.

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Yes… those are OG selfies of me on the right…

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Thanks to my classmate Amy for sharing about nomophobia and her project, which inspired me to incorporate it in mine! Students did a nomophobia questionnaire from a study, to also see where they stacked up in terms of being without their phone. This generated a lot of great discussion about how we feel when we don’t have our phones.

Body image issues, FOMO (fear of missing out) and distraction were also topics I touched on. I also had students reflect on their own social media use, using this activity from Common Sense Media. In this, I also shared my own reflection of my social media use.

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The last bit of my presentation (I was feeling rushed — to much to talk about!!), focused on ways we can combat issues with technology and social media negatively affecting us or becoming addicted.  One of the first things is to think about how much time we are spending on our phone – and what exactly that time is spent doing. On iPhones there is a setting you can check to see how much of your battery is going to what. This was a new learning for many students (and myself!). We spent some time checking and being amazed how many hours they were spending on apps. Hours and hours on Snapchat, seriously.

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Choosing who to follow, or unfollowing for that matter, turning off push notifications, restricting times on phone (not at meal times, driving, etc), being genuine and making connections with those around you were all things we discussed. Many of them had friends on Snapchat or Instagram that they liked things of, but didn’t actually ever talk to them at school if they were to see them.

Taking a break, deleting apps for a time period or moving apps off your home screen were more ideas. Sleeping also was a hot topic – reading before bed, charging your phone in a different room, and no screen time an hour before bed were also ideas students thought of.

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I wanted to give students a chance to do my survey, but unfortunately, we just ran out of time!! (In both sessions). We ended talking about a small goal we could set for ourselves to improve our digital health.

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Overall, I am very happy with how things went, and loved sharing what I learned with students and that we were able to engage in genuine discussion regarding this very relevant issue to their overall wellness.




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