Parents Across America supports
National parent group has prepared extensive materials about the harmful effects
on children’s academic, intellectual, emotional, physical and social development
when digital devices are misused and overused
February 21, 2017
The national parent group, Parents Across America (PAA), strongly endorses legislative proposals being considered by the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee that would provide some guidelines for the safe use of digital devices in the classroom.
In August, 2016, PAA released a position paper and a series of reports, including a 35-page background paper, detailing some of the many threats to children’s health and well-being, parental control, family privacy, and the quality of teaching and learning by this latest effort of corporate reformers to profit from our children’s education and undermine democratic public schooling. This high-pressure “EdTech” movement has brought a mishmash of digital devices and online and other pre-packaged programs into our schools, where they are promoted as “personalized,” “competency-based,” “student-centered,” or “self-directed” learning.
What PAA found out about the EdTech push alarmed the group, and should alarm any parent. First of all, there is actually very little research addressing the many news ways that EdTech is being used in our schools — our children are truly being used as guinea pigs. What we do know about children and screen time is based in part on new studies and in part on previous research into children’s use of television, video games and computers, which can help us anticipate some of EdTech’s health effects. And EdTech’s teaching and learning track record is not positive. Yet corporate reformers and the new federal education law, the Every Child Succeeds Act, or ESSA, are investing heavily in EdTech and increasingly pressuring its widespread use.
PAA is not against the appropriate use of technology in schools. Just as the group opposes standardized test misuse and not the tests themselves, they challenge technology use that reduces schooling to a data-mining computer game, and not technology itself. We know that our children need to master technology, and we acknowledge that parents must work harder to monitor their children’s use of technology at home. But we also strongly feel that schools, school districts and states must become far more cautious, diligent, transparent and accountable about their technology decisions.
We have prepared a set of informational materials for parents covering PAA’s specific concerns about EdTech’s:
harmful effects on children’s mental and emotional development,
negative impact on student intellectual and academic growth,
damaging physical effects,
depersonalization and other ways of undermining the educational process,
questionable value and effectiveness,
continuous testing of students, often without obtaining consent from or even informing students or parents,
threats to student data privacy, and
hugely lucrative benefits for private companies.
Parents must be alerted to these potential risks, and be prepared to challenge and, if necessary, opt out of school-based technology that may be harmful to our children.
Based on these and other concerns, we call on legislators and education policy makers to consider our list of recommendations found at http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/EdTechRecs8-20-16.pdf.
We applaud the Maryland lawmakers who have responded quickly and appropriately to this critical situation, and will share their work across our networks, hoping that other states will follow Maryland’s lead in protecting children from the many very real threats of EdTech.
Please see our documentation paper (http://tinyurl.com/edtechdocu) and reports (http://tinyurl.com/PAAEdTechreports) for more detailed information, references and background.