Has Your School Had Enough? 10 Questions Schools Can Ask to Build Better Digital Health & Safety

Office of Ed Tech
2 min readMay 9, 2023

With the release of the recent health advisory from the American Psychological Association and headlines like this from the Washington Post, Students Can’t Get Off Their Phones. Schools Have Had Enough,” much of the conversation about technology in schools hasn’t been about educational technology, but about technology interrupting learning or harming psychosocial safety. This is a problem similar to conversations mistaking the emergency remote learning of the pandemic with high-quality digital learning.

A student in a pink hooded sweatshirt sits at a desk with their back to the camera, wearing headphones and looking at an obscured laptop screen.

While there are certainly possible benefits of personal technology and student access to social media, without thoughtful planning and conversations at home and systemic, strategic planning and supports in schools; we run the risk of leaving youth and children lost in the digital wilderness.

Below are ten question schools and districts can ask to help support students’ digital health and safety.

1. Does your school or district have a clearly articulated vision of digital health and safety for students at all levels and accounting for possible risks related to student demographics?

2. How are you collecting data and evidence to better understand the digital health and safety needs of students, families, and employees within your district or schools (e.g., needs assessments, climate surveys, incident reports)?

3. What measurable goals have you established for the digital health, safety, and mental well-being of students?

4. How might students and families be included in assessing needs, setting district and school goals, and designing learning opportunities?

5. What supports are necessary or do you have in place to ensure key staff (e.g., administrators, school counselors, social workers, educators) have adequate understanding of and capacity to respond to the unique needs of supporting student digital health and safety?

6. What emergency resources, procedures, and supports are in place to support in moments of crisis regarding digital health and safety?

7. What curricular, extra-, or co-curricular inclusion supports can be or have been established to support student digital health and safety?

8. What external relationships can be or have been established to augment school and district capacity to support student digital health and safety?

9. How do you or are you planning to build community awareness and support of these needs, goals, and efforts?

10. What ongoing funding sources (e.g., Title II, Title IV grants) can or will you leverage to support these efforts?

Supporting student physical and mental health and safety has always been foundational to the work of schools. The ubiquity of social media and digital tools presents the challenge and opportunity for all schools and districts to partner with families and caregivers to make sure all students have the skills and spaces they need to develop and protect their digital health and safety.

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Office of Ed Tech

OET develops national edtech policy & provides leadership for maximizing technology's contribution to improving education. Examples ≠ endorsement