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Parents call for fewer laptops and tablets in classrooms amid concerns over screen time

By ITS Education Asia

As part of ChalkFace’s continuing coverage of the debate about tablets & phones in schools, this recent article from The Independent about parent concern in the US is offered for consideration.

Meaghan Edwards had just finished reading children's books to her son's third-grade class when the teacher announced that students could have free time before lunch. Instead of playing cards, talking with friends or reading more, the students pulled out their iPads.

“They were zoned out like little zombies,” recalled Ms Edwards, whose children attended school in the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas.

The school system is one of many coast to coast that have spent millions of dollars on initiatives aimed at putting computers or tablets in the hands of every student, sometimes as early as kindergarten.  But some parents in parts of the country where the programmes are in place want to scale back, saying the devices are harming the way young children learn.

From northern Virginia to Shawnee, Kansas, to Norman, Oklahoma, parents have demanded schools reduce or eliminate use of digital devices, provide alternative “low-screen” classwork and allow parents to say they do not want their children glued to glowing screens. Some families have even transferred their children to schools that are not so smitten with technology.

Maryland health and education officials released guidelines on using digital devices in school that include reminding students to take eye and stretch breaks and that encourage educators to offer collaborative learning assignments on and off the devices.

Virginia lawmakers are considering a similar proposal that would require the state to seek advice from medical professionals to set guidelines on the use of digital devices in schools.

What do you think? Should governments be ‘stepping in’ with regulations on the amount of ‘screen time’ allowed by students in schools?

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