SIGN to End MA School Screen Time Mandate

PLEASE SIGN HERE & SHARE to show legislators popular support exists! ! The following letter is for legislators and an upcoming hearing.

Through grade 12, our state standards require public school students utilize technology in nearly every subject in addition to media and computer science digital requirements.

Massachusetts has a Pre-K educational writing standard requiring pre-kindergarteners use digital tools to convey messages. Why demand technology use in Pre-K when students can barely spell?

Doctors even report early technology use is interfering with motor skills and the ability to hold a pencil.

A Stanford study reports 1 in 8 adults report difficulty remaining offline, showing compulsive attachment to cyberspace such as with chat rooms, blog entries, emails, etc. If adults have trouble, why are we habituating preschoolers?

Providing technology education makes sense if circumscribed to be age appropriate and taught in specialized courses on computer programming and useful software. However, cross-curriculum mandates and performance reviews on the basis of “innovative” or chronic use of technology take time away from other subject matter and undermine sensible technology programming and reasonable limits.

Two types of technology are entering our schools, one that replaces traditional learning with virtual education, and another that simply adds technology tools.

Limits are needed on all technology to protect students from problems attached to excessive technology use, such as addiction, obesity, depression, cyber-bullying, marketing, and loss of privacy.

Limits are needed because virtual education is already highly attractive to communities because it can be cheap, well marketed, and effort and accountability can be outsourced. Accountability pressures are intense, including requirements for data and tying daily curriculum to hundreds of specific educational standards. Outside financial interests, including in data collection, mean that grants are provided with harmful strings (often to encourage more technology).

Programmed virtual education often lacks oversight and undermines local academic freedom, for often programs are set in stone and content only available to students.

The screen time bill (H. 106) sponsored by Representative Patricia Duffy (and prepared by Kirstin Beatty, director of Last Tree Laws) was put forward to encourage local school authorities to set screen time limits through a public hearing. A template is provided which can be adapted except for some baseline limits. Baseline limits for grades 10-12 are 120 minutes daily, for grade 8 are 90 minutes daily, and below grade 8 no more than 5 hours monthly. Exceptions are allowed in special cases, including for virtual schools.

These baseline limits exist to protect students from financial and other pressures pushing for screen time despite evidence of academic and social harm. For example, the Organisation for Co-Operation and Development, funded by 34 countries, in 2015 released a study finding that just viewing emails beyond once or twice a week negatively impacted reading skills. Ample research indicates technology is harmful to learning.

This is all the more heart-breaking when considering that the DC federal district court just ruled that federal wireless and RF exposure guidelines are arbitrary and fails to weigh current research, in particular with regard to children and pregnant women and including neurological effects.

By moving this legislation forward, the committee will make an important statement to the public and educational leaders that Massachusetts that our youth are too important to allow technology interests to take over our educational system.

REFERENCES

Rights of the Child

Brodeur, J (2016 Nov 21) Media Education and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Smart Media Education for the 21 st Century. Available online July 14 2019 at https://acmesmartmediaeducation.net/2016/11/21/media-education-and-the-convention-on-the-rights-of-the-child/

Motor Skills

Hill, A (2018 Feb 25) Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say: children need opportunities to develop hand strength and dexterity needed to hold pencils. The Guardian. Available at
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/25/children-struggle-to-hold-pencils-due-to-too-much-tech-doctors-say

Coughland, S (2018 Oct 30) Surgery students `losing dexterity to stitch patients.` BBC News. Available July 14 2019 at
https://www.bbc.com/news/education-46019429

Addiction

Paton, G (2014 Apr 15) Infants `Unable to use toy building blocks` due to IPad Addiction. The Telegraph. Available 2019 July 14 online at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10767878/Infants-unable-to-use-toy-building-blocks-due-to-iPad-addiction.html

CNBC (2018 Jan 8) Apple should address youth phone addiction, two large investors [Jane Partners and California State Teachers’ Retirement System] say.

Kardaras, N (2016 Aug 27) It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. NY Post. Available at https://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

Stanford University Medical Center. (2006, October 17). Internet Addiction: Stanford Study Seeks To Define Whether
It’s A Problem. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 12, 2019 from
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061017164435.htm

Socioeconomic Faults

Bowles, N. (2016 Oct 26) The digital gap between rich and poor kids is not what we expected: America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens—even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether. The New York Times. Available July 14 at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html

Academic Problems

Woodworth L, Raymond M, Chirbas K, Gonzalez M, Negassi Y, Snow W, & Van Donge C. (2016 Apr 20) Online charter school study 2015 [Found brick-and-mortar schools do better than online]. CREDO.

Miron G, Gulosino C (2016 Apr 20) Virtual schools report 2016: directory and performance review. NEPC. Available at
https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2016

Shapiro J (2015 Apr 30) 4 Fundamental Problems With Everything You Hear About The Future Of Education. Forbes. Available 10 October 2021 at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2015/04/30/4-fundamental-problems-with-everything-you-hear-about-the-future-of-education/?sh=62a725dc7ab9

Social Emotional Development

Ravitch, D (2015 Dec 7) District Adopts Federally-Endorsed Tech Product, and It Bores the Kids to Tears. Diane Ravitch’s Blog. Online July 14 2019 at https://dianeravitch.net/2015/12/07/district-adopts-federally-endorsed-tech-product-and-it-bores-the-kids-to-tears/

Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee, 2016-2017. Media Use in School-Aged Children and
Adolescents. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Nixon, CL (2014) Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolesc Health Med Ther. 5:143-158.

Margalit L (2016 Apr 17) What screen time can really do to kids’ brains: Too much at the worst possible age can have lifetime consequences. Psychology Today. Available online at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/behind-online-
behavior/201604/what-screen-time-can-really-do-kids-brains

Health

DC Court decision affirming FCC guidelines are ‘arbitrary and capricious’ – https://childrenshealthdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/chd-v-fcc-we-won-decision.pdf

Several research studies reviewing the wireless in schools are reviewed at the Environmental Health Trust online at: https://ehtrust.org/peer-reviewed-research-studies-on-wi-fi/

Deshmukh PS, Nasare N, Megha K, Banerjee BD, Ahmed RS, Singh D, Abegaonkar MP, Tripathi AK, Mediratta PK
(2015) Cognitive impairment and neurogenotoxic effects in rats exposed to low-intensity microwave radiation. Int J
Toxicol. 34 (3): 284-290. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25749756

Massachusetts EdTech

Digital Learning: Personalized Learning. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Available
July 14 2019 at http://www.doe.mass.edu/odl/personalized.html

Note: Currently, mandates for technology use by teachers, administrators, and superintendents are enforced by state performance rubrics and also promoted by the resources or grants available through the state Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech Consortium (MAPLE) and the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC)].

Outside Interests

EdTechXGlobal Press Release. (2016 May 25) Global Report Predicts EdTech Spend to Reach $252bn by 2020. Cision PR Newswire. Available 2019 July 14 at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-report-predicts-edtech-spend-to-reach-252bn-by-2020-580765301.html

Papallo J (2015) Report Estimates US EdTech at $8.38 billion. Education World. Available 2019 July 14 at
https://www.educationworld.com/a_news/report-estimates-us-edtech-838-billion-210811064

Strauss, V (2014 Mar 14) Netflix’s Reed Hastings has a big idea: Kill elected school boards. Washington Post. Available
July 14 2014 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/14/netflixs-reed-hastings-has-a-big-
idea-kill-elected-school-boards/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.93092f5b1f2c

Press Release (2010 Apr 20) DreamBox Learning Acquired by Charter Fund in Partnership with Education

Philanthropist and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: Agreement Includes $10 Million R&D Investment and Newly Appointed Board Members: Company Poised for Accelerated Growth as Leading Innovator of Effective E-Learning in the Classroom. Dreambox Learning. Available July 14 2019 at http://www.dreambox.com/press-release-20100420

Anonymous Guest Post (2016 Jan 26) 21st Century Learning? Or 21st Century Profiteering? [Conflict of interest of school adminsitrators] Educational Alchemy Blog by Morna McDermott. Available July 14 2019 at https://educationalchemy.com/2016/01/26/21st-century-learning-or-21st-century-profiteering/

Ravitch, D. Executive Salaries at K12, Inc. [Chairman and CEO made 4.2 million in 2014]. Diane Ravitch’s Blog. Available online July 14 2019 at https://dianeravitch.net/category/on-line-education/

Kharpal A (2016 Jun 30) A $19 trillion ‘digital revolution’ is coming and the US is lagging: Cisco’s Chambers. CNBC. Available online 2019 Jun 14 at https://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/30/a-19-trillion-digital-revolution-is-coming-and-the-us-is-lagging-cisco-john-chambers-viva-tech.html

Vaute V (2018 Oct 29) Recycling Is Not The Answer To The E-Waste Crisis. Forbes. Online 2019 July 14 at
https://www.forbes.com/sites/vianneyvaute/2018/10/29/recycling-is-not-the-answer-to-the-e-waste-crisis/
#22b3fc137381