Social and educational shortfalls are associated with even just a little school screen time. Reducing technology use also ties in with privacy protection, as technology gathers information, and with reducing problems such as societal dependency and energy consumption.
The American Psychological Association has a number of courses on tech addiction and the American Optometric Association warns about eye risk from screen or blue light. Published experts studying the latest research warn of other health risks, as does the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reducing screen time, school and home use adds up. Digital habits are difficult to stem when coursework is tied to daily, even full-time use. A bill to reduce school technology use is proposed below: sponsors are needed.
AN ACT LIMITING SCREEN TIME & ALLOWING NON-USE OF TECHNOLOGY
SECTION 1. Section of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 36 the following section:-
(a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
“Screen time” is time viewing a technological or digital screen which includes but is not limited to a television, a smart board, projector, or computer.
“Passive screen time” is time viewing a technological or digital screen in which one only observes and does not interact or alter the screen by typing or otherwise moving the body.
“Interactive screen time” is time viewing and interacting with or altering a technological or digital screen by typing or otherwise moving the body.
“Virtual reality” is an interactive screen time experience taking place in a simulated visual environment, either real or imagined, and may incorporate auditory and sensory feedback. Augmented reality systems is a type of virtual reality in which perception of the real world is augmented by computer-generated perceptual information such as visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any student enrolled in either public primary or secondary schools in the Commonwealth to exceed screen time limits or during school hours and through related school assignments after school hours, except as when substantially beneficial to relieve disability.
It shall further be unlawful to mandate screen time as a condition of mandated public primary and secondary coursework or school activities.
Courses or school activities that revolve around screen time must be voluntary, and screen time requirements in those activities highly relevant to the subject matter of the course or school activity. Participation in courses or school activities with additional screen time, whether foreign language, computer language, or other relevant subject, must obtain student guardian consent while providing justification for the additional screen time and explaining how risks of excessive screen time will be limited. Additional screen time outside the parameters of the screen time limits must be approved not only by student guardians, but by the school board and principal.
Use of virtual reality shall be preceded by notice of any cautionary warnings accompanying use, obtain guardian consent, and shall be not be used by children or adolescents through the age of fourteen.
Each school committee shall establish a policy dealing with students and staff who violate this law that includes consequences to prevent violations and may include redirection. This policy may include but not be limited to mandatory education on the hazards of excessive screen time. Nothing in this law preempts more restrictive state or local limitations.
(c) Screen time restrictions are provided according to grade level as follows:
(1) Pre-K through kindergarten screen time: maximum of zero hours
(2) First through second grade passive screen time: maximum two hours per school year;
(3) First through second grade interactive screen time: maximum of zero hours
(4) Grade three through eight passive screen time: maximum of one hour a day and 2.5 hours total in the school year;
(5) Grade three through eight interactive screen time: maximum of 20 minutes a day and a maximum of 3.5 hours total in the school year;
(6) Grade nine through ten passive screen time: maximum of one hour a day and 5 hours total in the school year;
(7) Grade nine through ten interactive screen time: maximum of one hour daily and 12 hours total in the school year.
(8) Grade eleven through twelve passive screen time: maximum of one hour a day and 7 hours total in the school year;
(9) Grade eleven through twelve interactive screen time: maximum of one hour daily and 12 hours total in the school year.
Section 1I of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph after the first paragraph:-
Digital technology shall be optional and not a required school subject. No school, student, or guardian shall be treated with prejudice or found wanting in an evaluation due to following a principle of restricting or avoiding student digital technology use or choosing not to purchase or upgrade digital technological equipment. A student or school may safely restrict or avoid digital student technology use and still be provided high marks in evaluation based on other measures, and may pursue alternative models of education such as the Montessori model.
Within reason, however, public schools shall be expected to insure students understand age-appropriate aspects of digital technology use related to safety, health, responsibility, and privacy. Each district or charter school shall establish a Technology Safety Council with relevant expertise shall be established to develop, examine, and review a curriculum scope and sequence for age-appropriate aspects of digital technology, and shall invite and not exclude parents, guardians, or local public school teachers as members.