Press release *** For Immediate Release
November 15, 2016
Contact: Julie Woestehoff, Interim Executive Director 773-715-3989
Laura Bowman, PAA-Roanoke Valley (VA) 540-819-6385
National parent group objects to pediatrician group’s
revised screen time recommendations
Parents upset that new AAP guidelines ignore in-school tech time
Today, the national group Parents Across America (PAA) sent a letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expressing its disappointment in the AAP’s recently-revised recommendations for children’s exposure to digital media.
Charging the AAP with a failure to consider the rapidly expanding in-school exposure to digital devices and screen time, the parent group characterized the new guidelines as “shockingly narrow and out of touch with reality” and “a real disservice to children and families” who look to their children’s doctors for help and support to safeguard their children’s health and well-being.
The PAA letter reflects its concern that the amount of technology time required by school districts, states and the federal government has grown exponentially with far too little oversight of the effects of these devices and programs on children’s health, and even less monitoring of their academic effectiveness. PAA blames this push on educational publishers, software marketers, and others working to monetize schooling and to gather and use private student data for their own benefit.
According to Laura Bowman, leader of PAA-Roanoke Valley, a Virginia chapter of the national parent group, “Since the AAP’s statement didn’t talk about school screen time, parents may assume that doctors consider in-school use as somehow safer or better than home use, yet we know that screens, like cigarettes, pose significant health risks regardless of where they are used. The way the AAP presented its guidelines may also mislead parents into assuming doctors think all in-school digital media use is high-quality, yet we know programs that claim to be educational vary widely in quality and effectiveness.”
The parent group cited the extensive research, information and opinion it has collected about the growing danger to children of excessive screen time (http://parentsacrossamerica.org/children-risk-paa-reports-detailing-dangers-edtech/), noting that the AAP’s findings about screen time are completely consistent with what PAA has learned about the potential of excessive screen time to:
interfere with children’s brain development
impact children’s mental health
increase sitting time which can cause many physical problems
negatively impact sleep
contribute to screen addiction
result in eyestrain and potential myopia, macular degeneration, and blindness
expose children to excessive radiation
encourage constant testing and data collection without adequately informing or obtaining permission from students or parents, undermining student privacy, and
benefit corporations without improving education.
PAA’s letter expressed the group’s frustration that the revised AAP recommendations ignore the role schools play in this area, and leave parents without the support of the very professionals whose interest in children’s health and well-being should have resulted in strong support for our challenge to the growing misuse and overuse of technology in the school setting.
PAA urges the doctors’ group to address the additional risks of screen and media time in school, report publicly on this critical area, and reconsider its overall guidelines in light of the reality of growing in-school exposure to digital media.
PAA is a non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that connects activist parents from all backgrounds across the United States to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools. PAA is committed to bringing the voice of public school parents – and common sense – to local, state, and national education debates.