A Teenager’s Guide to Study Skills, Screen Time, and Electronics

Parents and teachers seem as if they are always complaining that teenagers’ study skills are negatively impacted by screen time and electronic devices.  To some extent, they might be right. It is up to teenagers to take responsibility for shutting off their cell phones or, better yet, giving them to someone else to hold for an hour or two when they have some heavy duty studying ahead.  On the other hand, technologies can be an enormous asset for effective studying and learning. Here are some of our best ideas for teenagers to improve their study skills using screen time and electronics:

Say what you want to remember.  

Instead of typing or writing, use a dictation program on your cell phone for verbally summarizing what you want to recall.  This allows you to see what you want to remember immediately. Even if you make a mistake in your dictation, reviewing your notes would force you to think more about what you are trying to recall.

Study by using flashcards.

There are some great apps for creating and using flashcards.  Programs such as Quizlet help users to generate the questions they want to ask, a crucial tool for effective studying.  Electronic flashcards also help in learning to associate an answer with a particular question. Having the cards presented to you in a random order makes this type of studying more demanding.  Electronic flashcards give immediate feedback, thereby powering your learning.

Record or “parrot” a lecture with a dictation program to transcribe into notes later.

 This can help with study skills for those who like to be able to listen to a teacher and then comment on their own notes.  Use a digital voice recorder to record the lecture, then transfer the WMA or MP3 file to a personal computer. Listen to the lecture with headphones and “parrot” it or interpret it in your own words, making it into something more meaningful for learning while using a dictation program such as Dragon Dictation.  This technique can be very helpful as part of the process of studying for an exam because it requires users to listen to the lecture again, put a teacher’s letter into one’s own words, think about what is most important, and then make connections to other previously acquired knowledge.

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