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MD Proposed Screen Time Bill Dies

Rebecca Pujo, Editor-in-Chief

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A proposed Maryland state House of Representatives bill 866, which included requirements to limit screen time use in schools, recently died.

Despite the Congressional decision to drop the bill, as limitations on screen time will be left to the discretion of schools, the bill did gather much support, particularly for parents advocating for their children’s health in schools.

“Since the schools are now requiring younger and younger kids to be online for longer periods of time, it’s a real threat to the vision of all students. If you start using a computer every day at the age of 5, it’s scary to think of the damage your eyes will endure by the time you graduate, at the age of 18,” screen safety advocate and parent Cindy Eckard said.

Eckard advocates to push Maryland legislation for school screen time limitations, and created a website, screensandkids.us, to inform and advocate for screen time safety.  

The bill, which went through a committee hearing in February 2017, would have required the Maryland Department of Health and Department of Education to create guidelines regarding the use of digital devices in public schools in order to protect the safety of the students. These guidelines were to be implemented by each public school system for the 2018-19 school year, as proposed in the bill.

In schools, students are increasingly exposed to screens and digital devices, as in recent years Promethean Boards have replaced traditional blackboards and Chromebooks have replaced notebook paper and pencils. Because technology is now such a staple in many classrooms across MCPS and Maryland, many teachers would encounter difficulty working around limitations, depending on what exactly they regulated. However, no actual limitations were ever set since the bill died in its first hearing.

“I agree that some young people are likely using electronic devices to excess, but there is a big difference between a Promethean Board  and a cell  phone,” english teacher Sharon Lee said.

As technology has become such a staple, not only in the classroom but in everyday life, students are likely often exposed to digital devices before and after they go to school, and there is a difference between educational enhancers and devices such as televisions and cell phones. As schools have begun implementing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, these devices can be seen in the classroom, for better or for worse.

Despite the death of the bill, many concerned parents are still advocating for action to be taken to prevent the detrimental effects of too much screen time on young brains.

According to screenfree.org, “For older children and adolescents, excessive screen time is linked to increased psychological difficulties that include hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, difficulties with peers and poor school performance.”

There are many studies about health issues linked to excess screen time exposure. Even though this proposed bill did not survive beyond its hearing, as the use of digital devices increases, in and out of the classroom, and studies continue to show the negative effects of too much screen time, more action taken against it can be foreseen.

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The Student News Site of Rockville High School
MD Proposed Screen Time Bill Dies