December 23, 2016
MD classroom screen safety legislation press conference
MARYLAND) In a press conference held at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis
on Dec. 23, award-winning comedian, author, actress and activist Paula
Poundstone urged Maryland lawmakers to pass a bill that will direct the
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to determine medical guidelines
for the safe use of digital devices in Maryland classrooms.
makes all of the sense in the world to put decisions about the health of
our children's brains into the hands of health professionals. We don't
ask the schools to govern how many immunizations we give them," Ms.
Poundstone, who advocates for classroom screen safety in her home state
of California, said.
Delegate Steve Arentz (R-Dist. 36) is
sponsoring the effort: "More and more experts are proving that there are
serious risks to our kids' health because they spend every day on a
digital device. Maryland students need to get the most out of this
technology, so we want medical professionals to lead us in a safe
direction. It's a win for education and a win for our children's
long-term health. Let's get uniform screen safety regulations put in
place by doctors who know what's best for growing children."
legislation seeks to provide protections for Maryland students in the
same way that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) protects office workers. OSHA has regulated the use of computer
monitors since the 1990s noting many of the same health risks that
students face today in class: digital eye strain, myopia, retinal
damage, sleeplessness and psychological problems such as addiction,
depression and anxiety.
Cindy Eckard, a mother of two Maryland
public school children, has been urging lawmakers to regulate classroom
screen safety, citing voluminous scientific research. She has created a
where the public can learn more about the health risks children face
when required to use a digital device every day in school, and into the
evening, for homework.
Ms. Eckard laughs when asked if she
doesn't like technology. "My entire career was spent in high tech
communications, " she explains, "Of course I want my children to master
technology; I just don't want them to be injured by it. Eye experts are
worried that children are actually going to be blinded by these devices,
and so am I."
Citing several research studies, Ms. Eckard
identified five major health risks that she says the Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene needs to address, to ensure that Maryland
students have a safe learning environment at school: myopia, retinal
damage, musculoskeletal aches and pains, sleeplessness and psychological
Health advocates around the country, such as Prevent
Blindness and the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health
are watching the Maryland legislation.
Prevent Blindness Chief
Operating Officer Jeff Todd writes: "Recent research finds that
children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device
screens, which is a growing concern as the popularity of cell phones,
computers and tablets for school reading and personal use continues to
grow each year. We commend Maryland’s efforts to ensure children’s
vision, eye health, and safety is at the forefront of your state’s
efforts related to childhood development."
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras,
PhD, LCSW-R, a nationally recognized addiction expert and author of
Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids, writes: "Over 200
peer-reviewed clinical studies correlate excessive screen usage with
disorders such as ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased
aggression, mood dysregulation and even psychosis... Indeed, many of the
studies indicate that even moderate screen exposure can be clinically
problematic for some children... I commend the screen safety effort in
Maryland and encourage the General Assembly to pass legislation that
will mandate medically sound classroom regulations," Dr. Kardaras wrote
in a statement.
Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, OD, FAAO, is an
Associate Professor at the Illinois College of Optometry and an
attending optometrist in the Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Service of the
Illinois Eye Institute. Regarding the Maryland classroom screen safety
legislation, Dr. Goodfellow writes: "All of our eyes are under stress
more than ever before. Whether it is blurry vision, tired eyes,
headaches, increased nearsightedness, double vision, or red eyes, we
know that our world full of digital devices can have lots of unintended
consequences. This doesn’t even include the more non-eye related
implications such as sleep disturbances or addiction propensities. I
wish Maryland success in your labor to promote digital screen safety
Statewide support is also in place. The Children's
Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC) sent a
letter of support for a similar bill last year, noting the need for
regulations to protect students from the environmental health risks
posed by daily digital device use in the classroom.
parents are also endorsing the legislation. ABC Schools writes:
"Advocates for Baltimore County Schools (ABCSchools), the largest public
education advocacy coalition in Baltimore County, will support the 2017
Maryland General Assembly bill to develop objective computer health and
safety guidelines for Maryland schools. Our students must be protected
from well-documented potential impacts on the musculoskeletal system,
vision, sleep, cognitive development, and social-emotional development."
Cline, a Montgomery County parent and Fields Road Elementary School PTA
president agrees. "Our kids deserve every protection possible.
Technology is not going away. This bill ensures that kids use it safely
so none of us looks back someday and says, 'We should have...'.
For further information, contact Cindy Eckard at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @screensandkids on Twitter, and visit www.screensandkids.us for detailed medical research.
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