Maryland Schools May Tell Children When It’s Time to Log Off
Maryland could become the first state to address parental concerns about computer screen time for children in the classroom.
Legislation passed this month would require state education officials to develop optimum health and safety practices for the use of digital devices in schools. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has not taken a public position on the legislation. If he does not sign or veto it before May 28, the measure will become law without his signature.
The bill throws Maryland into an already heated national debate over the potential for digital devices and apps to addict children — and whether it is up to the tech industry or parents to make sure children don’t get hooked.
Until now, health concerns about children’s use of devices have centered largely on entertainment activities. Studies have reported that children with excessive internet or video-gaming habits can become preoccupied with online activities to the detriment of real-life activities and relationships.
Mindful of such risks, a group of Apple shareholders recently wrote the company a letter that warned of the iPhone’s potential for overuse and that pressed Apple to develop tools for parents to better manage their children’s device habits.
Some pediatricians and parents are now raising similar concerns about classroom laptops, tablets and apps, partly because school districts are adopting digital tools in droves. Last year, primary and secondary schools in the United States spent $5.4 billion on 12.4 million laptop and tablet computers, according to International Data Corporation, a market research firm known as IDC.