On February 22, 2017, CCFC submitted testimony to the Maryland House of Representatives in support of House Bill 866, which would require the Maryland department of health to develop and implement health and safety guidelines and procedures for the use of digital devices in public school classrooms. This legislation will help ensure that schools use technology in ways that enhance learning without harming children.
Dear Chairman Kaiser, Vice Chair Turner, and Members of the Committee,
Thank you for considering House Bill 866, "Primary and Secondary Education - Health and Safety Guidelines and Procedures - Digital Devices." On behalf of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), I am writing to ask that you give this bill your complete endorsement.
CCFC is a national advocacy organization that works to protect children from the harmful effects of commercialism. As part of our mission, we work with healthcare professionals and educators to help families instill healthy media habits in their children. CCFC has nearly 50,000 members, including 1,000 in Maryland.
There is no doubt that digital technologies, when used in age-appropriate and thoughtful ways, can enhance education. However, the rush to incorporate individual digital devices into classrooms has not been accompanied by specific health and safety guidelines based on the impact of excessive screen time on children’s health and well-being.
A growing body of research clearly demonstrates that excessive screen time is linked to a whole host of negative outcomes for children, including attention and hyperactivity disorders and social-emotional problems. Screen time is linked to sleep disturbances and irregular sleep patterns in children under 12. There is also growing evidence linking excessive screen time to vision problems in children, including myopia and dry eye syndrome. And pediatricians and mental health professionals are increasingly concerned about digital addiction among children.
Given the documented health risks for children, it is critical that medical professionals develop clear, research-based, age-appropriate guidelines for the use of digital devices in schools. We shouldn’t sacrifice children’s overall wellbeing for the latest technological fads. Unrestricted absorption of screen technology into classrooms is creating health crises that will cost money and severely impact children’s future potential. Medical oversight will ensure that schools use technology ways that enhance children’s education without undermining their physical and socio-emotional wellbeing.
I urge you to support House Bill 866 and make Maryland the unquestioned leader in providing safe learning environments for children.
Executive Director, CCFC