Maryland Bill Cites Parents Across America's Work on 'Kids and Screens'
The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP), released just weeks ago by the U.S. Department of Education, encourages more computer use in the classroom. According to the report, the NETP is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The Plan articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. However, it makes no mention of any health risks to students, even though the U.S. Surgeon General's Office has safety guidelines that limit screen time, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Maryland, HB 1110, screen time, screen device,
Research demonstrates that excessive screen time is linked to a host of negative outcomes for children, including: attention and hyperactivity disorders and social-emotional problems; sleep disturbances and irregular sleep patterns; vision problems, including myopia and dry eye syndrome; and digital addiction.
Missing from the APP guidelines is the inclusion of school usage of screen devices. Maryland, a state whose schools consistently rank among the nation's best, has drafted legislation to address the problem. HB1110 aims to protect Maryland students from the health hazards that medical experts have for many years associated with daily use of digital devices. In the full text of the bill Parents Across America is listed as a consulting stakeholder:
" . . . the State Department of Education shall convene and consult with a workgroup of affected stakeholders . . . "
We're in good company!
Laws are in place to protect kids from alcohol and cigarettes. Children cannot drive cars until they reach the age of consent. It seems we've been behind the curve in protecting kids from the harmful effects of using screen devices. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has had regulations governing the use of computers for office workers since the 1990s, but schools have no medical oversight.
There is widespread agreement among parents, educators, and researchers about the need to protect children. Parents Across America has been advocating for legislation to protect kids at school from excessive exposure for years. You may view the PAA webinar Our Children @ Risk here. Teachers have also warned of screen time addiction, 1:1 technology, and other ed-tech dilemmas. Mounting evidence from scientists and researchers supports screen time legislation. There is even support from tech companies. It seems inevitable that legislators will pass laws to protect children from the harmful effects of technology. Maryland's bill can serve as a model for Oregon and the rest of the nation.
Books -- the real everywhere, all-the-time learning device