Technology and Adolescents: To Worry or Not to Worry?

By Maria Jose Correa and Daniela Hidalgo for HS Language and Learning Center

As teachers, we have first-hand experience on students’ poor performance due to lack of sleep. As Literacy Assistants for the High School Language and Learning Center, we work with a variety of students on a daily basis. One common pattern that has come to our attention is the tiredness of the majority of our students, regardless the time of the day. When we approach and ask them about the reasons, 90% of the times they respond unanimously: “I couldn’t sleep. I stayed on my phone until late”. Nowadays, we witness how high school students’ performance has deteriorated due to poor habits. We recognize that technology has become part of our routines, since the alarm goes off in the morning until that last “like” on Instagram; we are attached to our phones 24 hours. This phenomenon even has a name for teenagers: “Vamping”.

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Many students that “vamp” present the same problems: concentration and focus difficulties, reduced academic performance, unwillingness to participate in sport activities, and low self esteem.


But, why is “vamping” a worrisome issue? Well, these habits are interrupting our students learning processes and impacting them severely in their overall performance and ability to learn. We are aware of how creating healthy sleeping habits benefit our brains and bodies. We also know how vulnerable the teenage brain is during this stage of development, so maintaining bad habits can have long-term consequences.  

As parents and educators, we are responsible for their well-being, so we need to understand the importance of creating awareness about the unrestricted use of devices. As educators, we also need to be aware of our responsibility inside the classroom, by promoting healthy study habits and responsible use of technology. This should be a team effort among all, parents, teachers, administrators, and students!

We are sharing some information on the consequences of the use of devices without parental control.

  • Deteriorate school performance

Many students that “vamp” present the same problems: concentration and focus difficulties, moodiness and aggressive behavior, reduced academic performance, lack of enthusiasm, unwillingness to participate in sport activities, and low self esteem.

  • Causes Addictive Behaviors

Students express that they use their devices mainly for social media and texting at night before they go to  sleep. One of the reasons is the need for validation and recognition from their peers, whether it’s “likes”, “follows” or smile emojis. Most teenagers text and post at late hours at night.

Research has shown that social media is addictive and is even compared to addictions such as smoking. If we don’t realize the negative effects this addiction can have on teenagers, we are in a way accepting it. It is difficult for everyone to be separated from their phone, it creates anxiety.

  • Less sleep weakens immune system

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “for most adolescents, nine hours of sleep is ideal”. Unfortunately, less than 9 percent of teens get enough sleep, being the unrestricted use of technology before they go to sleep one of the main factors for this. Some research has found a link between sleep deprivation and teenage depression and anxiety. Furthermore, lack of rest and sleep can lead to accidents and injuries.

Also, poor sleep can disrupt the immune system, so they can be sick more often.  This can lead students to miss school and therefore have a negative impact on their overall performance.  

Recommendations to improve sleeping habits

When trying to make plans with students in order to improve their performance, we recommend that they sleep for nine hours and avoid devices before bedtime.  

Some studies have found that blue light from devices (computers, telephones, tv,  e-readers, etc) decrease the amount of melatonin that the brain releases, making it harder to fall asleep.  

If you are aware that your child is not getting enough hours of sleep, you might want to start talking to them about their sleeping habits.

By establishing rules about the usage of devices, we can help them enter a healthier routine.

Some examples are:

  • Set up times for using devices
  • Be a good role model, maintaining healthy sleep habits
  • Create technology-free spaces around the house , no devices in the bedrooms
  • Encouraging relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation
  • Promote reading a book before bed  
  • Suggest that they practice a sport or play an instrument
  • Use apps that are available for parental control, they help us keep track of what the do while online and also give us tools to control the amount of time they use it.  Some common ones are: the screen time on Apple devices, Google family link for parents, Life360, Parental control smart App, etc.

We can all benefit from adequate sleep habits, so as the adults we need to help students understand the negative effects for them both in the short and long term.




Literacy Specialist Assistants: A New Experience at Lincoln High School

By Flor Parma and Majo Correa

Many colleagues or students are wondering who the people sitting at the back of the classroom during Biology or Spanish are. They enter the rooms without asking, sit comfortably, take notes, and leave without being noticed. They rarely talk, but they sometimes ask a question as if they were another student. Teachers don’t seem to be bothered; instead, they greet them with a smile.

Well, let us tell you, we are one of these people. We are not teachers, we don’t specialize in any subject, we don’t have planning time or an advisory group, and we don’t have an office of our own. However, we do know about the students who attend those classes. We know about their strengths and challenges. We know how it feels to having to learn about DNA or cellular reproduction, when we really love Social Studies. We don’t know everything, but we do whatever it takes to learn it and become experts in the subject. We are LITERACY SPECIALIST ASSISTANTS!

This is a new role in the school, so we face the challenge of letting the rest of the Lincoln community know how important our job is. So here are some things everybody should know about us:

  • As we mentioned before, we attend classes in order to learn new content, as most of the material does not have a connection with the subject we studied or have taught previously. By going through the struggles of learning that new content, we can now understand what a student that is not particularly attracted to that subject feels, by having to learn it anyway. So we try to find ways and strategies for students to reach the content in a more enjoyable way.
  • We are Native Spanish Speakers and English Learners, but we speak both languages and sometimes a third one. By being bilingual we can provide students with reassuring concepts in their L1 and L2 and we can learn with and through them, not only new vocabulary, but meaningful ways of using it. We can share not only words, but experiences.
  • But our role not only involves students. We share a lot of time with subject teachers, as we need to adapt to the almost 96 classes taught in high school and to the different pedagogies used by every teacher.  All in all, we collaborate on a daily basis by co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing, and co-reflecting with more than 30 teachers.
  • What do we do with all the information we collect? Well, we provide ideas or recommendations, as well as we listen to ideas or recommendations from teachers that need to differentiate, so every student is capable of reaching and understanding the lesson. We put all our thoughts together in order to come up with a better idea, resulting in students achieving the learning objectives.
  • We do not hesitate in saying “we don’t know, let’s look it up”. Showing doubt is also necessary, so students can see that even teachers can sometimes feel uncertain about some things. Looking for clarification together can help them learn how to do it next time and to not feel bad about it.

As you can see, there are many things we have to be aware of, but we feel  the most important part of our job as literacy specialist assistants is to empathize with students when they  approach us with feedback about classes, teachers, and personal struggles. We get to know the students as complete people: siblings, friends, peers, club leaders, musicians, athletes, and teenagers. By knowing their passions, we can help them with their struggles, because when we make connections with their personal interests, we are more able to engage them.

We are very fortunate to have this job, as we get to know a lot of different subjects and a lot of our students! This is a PD itself!

Shock News: Teachers Voluntarily Add Extra Meeting to Their Day

By Naomi Barbour

Who said collaboration can’t be fun? Who said it can’t be about getting together with your colleagues to chat in a relaxed environment? Who said it can’t involve Blueberry Crisp, Coco-Dulce de Leche Delights and Lemon and Lime Tart? Well, no one of course, but it is also possible that you didn’t know you could collaborate with your colleagues in this way.

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Our first lunch about “Building Background”. From left to right: Flor Parma (LSA), Ivy Romero (ICP), Helen Paul (English), Laura Rock (Learning Coach), Majo Correa (LSA), Dr. Alvaro Peña (Biology), MaJo Schamun (Spanish), Alli Poirot (Social Studies), and Silvina Fernandez (Spanish-Service Learning)

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