Monday, January 23, 2017

Classroom Screen Safety featured on BAM! Radio Network Blog, Edwords
First, do no harm
Essay examines parents' expectations of care when children are at school, including protection from known screen safety health risks.

For the latest medical references regarding classroom screen hazards, please scroll down. This page also offers FURTHER DETAILS.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Getting Ready for the MD General Assembly

If you are not already familiar with your legislative representatives, here is a link that will help you identify and contact them regarding classroom screen safety in Maryland classrooms:

As soon as the bill is filed, the bill number and sponsors will be listed here, and made known through Twitter.

The bill will travel to a House committee for a hearing.  The hearing schedule will also be listed here with links to the committee members. It's important to contact your legislators to make sure that they support this effort, and that they also reach out to committee members to vote for it.

It is anticipated that Delegate Arentz's bill will be cross-filed in the Senate, so please be sure to contact your Senator(s) as well as your Delgate(s).

Thanks to all who are following on Twitter and sharing this information through your own Facebook pages. Here are this week's research links:

A new Johns Hopkins study finds digital device use linked to rise in depression among teens, especially girls. Researchers "speculate that greater exposure to known depression risk factors such as problematic cell phone use, including cyberbullying, may play a role."

Screen time has long been associated with the rise in obesity. UCLA reports that over 12.7 million children and adolescents are overweight or obese. "And it’s not just a cosmetic issue: obesity increases the risk of health problems such as asthma, heart disease and type 2 diabetes."

The University of Maryland's Dr. Michael Brody examines some of the psychological impacts of screen time in his book, Seductive Screens:   "Is children’s media entertaining and educational, or a Trojan  horse  bearing  hyper-consumerism, violence, and poor health? "

Primary Care Optometry News (PCON) explains how children are more seriously impacted by the damaging blue light from screens: "An iPad held at 8 inches by a child actually has about four times the intensity than if the device were held at 16 inches by an adult ... this is a critical point to consider regarding the dangers of blue light exposure."

As mentioned last week, the University of Maryland revealed worldwide screen addiction among students six years ago. Read their report, entitled "the world UNPLUGGED," here, and then contact the directer, Susan Moeller, on Twitter @sdmoeller. Let's hope the University of Maryland will weigh in on this critical subject and support MD classroom screen safety.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This week's update

Delegate Arentz's classroom screen safety bill has been submitted to Legislative Services; a draft should be available this coming week.
Many thanks to those who have followed the Twitter account (@screensandkids). Thank you for retweeting the research that supports the need for medically sound classroom screen safety regulations to protect Maryland students from harm. Nearly every day, new scientific evidence is uncovered that illustrates the need for clinicians to protect students who are now required to use a digital device for classwork and homework.

University of MD revealed worldwide screen addiction among students 6 years ago
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism's  International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA): "Students around the world repeatedly used the term ‘addiction’ to speak about their dependence on media. “Media is my drug; without it I was lost,” said one student from the UK. “I am an addict. How could I survive 24 hours without it?”" 

JAMA Pediatrics: Latest study on digital devices and sleeplessness
" A systematic review and meta-analysis showed strong and consistent evidence of an association between access to or the use of devices and reduced sleep quantity and quality, as well as increased daytime sleepiness... An integrated approach among teachers, health care professionals, and parents is needed to improve sleep hygiene."

Another good reason for DHMH classroom safety guidelines: 
volume levels on headphones and earbuds
"Despite claims that kids headphones limit volume to 85 decibels (the level the World Health Organization considers “safer”), up to one-third of the kids headphones we tested exceeded that level when measured with pink noise, allowing higher volumes—sometimes much higher. " ... "Bigger kids (4 years and up) have different requirements than little ones." - The Wirecutter (New York Times affiliate)

Mont. Co. Students are asking for help with mental illness issues
"Students Organize Mental Health Week at Maryland High School: Call for more awareness surrounding mental illness"

Support from Montgomery County
A mom from Montgomery County urges parents to get involved in protecting students during the General Assembly session
 "What can we do to protect our kids? 
• Buy blue light filters for all your child’s devices. They are easy to affix and are relatively affordable. Be sure to look for those that block 100% of blue light.
• Encourage kids to look away or walk away every 20 minutes or so. 
• Educate your child about the risks.
• Support legislation that determines medical guidelines for safe use of digital devices in Maryland classrooms. Contact your elected officials to share your concern and support."

More pediatric research on sleep deprivation and digital devices
Remember that online classwork means online homework, sometimes late in the evening, because of after-school activities:

"Access to and night-time use of electronic media has been associated  with  shortened  sleep  duration  and  excess  body  weight  (Chahal  et  al.,  2013).  Children  with  increasingly  more  electronic  media  devices  in  their  bedrooms  reported  shorter  sleep  durations,  and  students  who  used  electronic  devices  on  most  or  all  nights  reported  sleeping  less  and  having  more  sleep  difficulties."

New York Times health columnist warns about addiction: 
Hooked on our Smartphones
"The near-universal access to digital technology, starting at ever younger ages, is transforming modern society in ways that can have negative effects on physical and mental health, neurological development and personal relationships..."

Education Week: Warning Sounded on Tech Interrupting Student Sleep
"A recent meta-analysis by British researchers has brought renewed attention to the issue, calling increased use of mobile devices at bedtime a "major public-health concern" for children and teenagers."

Please share this information on your Facebook pages, and follow this effort on Twitter: @screensandkids.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MD Classroom Screen Safety 
Press Conference Video
Paula Poundstone joins local advocate to support legislation that will direct DHMH to create screen safety guidelines for Maryland classrooms.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

This week's update
A draft of the classroom screen safety bill sponsored by Delegate Steve Arentz will be available very soon, so please follow @screensandkids for legislative updates. This bill will direct the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create classroom safety guidelines for digital devices. It will protect Maryland students who now face known health risks and avoidable injuries because they are required to use devices every day in school, just as OSHA has protected workers from many of the same issues, since the mid-1990s.

While significant research has already established the health risks associated with daily computer use among children, more studies are routinely published and referenced. The following research emerged just this week:

Blue Light is Adversely Affecting Our Sight & Health, According to an Eye-Opening New Survey by the Vision Council
Perhaps most concerning are the effects blue light and digital eye strain are having on children. Among parents in the survey, 76.5% indicate their child(ren) receives more than two hours of screen time per day, and 55.6% say their child(ren) experiences at least one of the following after two hours of screen time: headaches; neck/shoulder pain; eye strain, dry or irritated eyes; reduced attention span; poor behavior; or irritability. 

An Overlooked Factor in the Childhood Obesity Epidemic
This eye-opening research implies that reducing the amount of time your child spends on a computer, watching television, or playing on a smartphone or tablet may prove to be a more powerful intervention to treat and prevent childhood obesity and related health concerns than previously realized. The study:  

Lots of teen screen time tied to obesity
Too much television time has long been linked to childhood obesity, but a U.S. study suggests that the connection holds true for smaller screens too, such as computers, gaming consoles, tablets and smartphones.  

What Smartphones Do to Children’s Eyes

Smartphones pose dry-eye risk for kids. New study underscores needs for comprehensive eye exams for school success.

Screen Time Works as Well as Sedatives in Calming Kids Down
 "... the levels of anxiety among both kids and their parents were similar in both groups, meaning electronic games were just as effective as the drugs." The study:

Using iPads to pacify children may harm their development, say scientists
Children throwing tantrums should be given time to calm down on their own rather than distracted with tablets or smartphones, say researchers.

Eye health 'time bomb' as kids stay indoors, increase screen exposure

"It's a big public health issue in many countries," Associate Professor Sankaridurg said.

Researchers have found that using social media makes kids less happy in almost every way
The study found that the more time kids spent chatting on social networks, the less positive they felt about school work and which school they attended, their appearance, and their family. They were also less happy with life overall. The study:

Please follow @screensandkids for timely updates as Maryland leads the nation in screen safety for our children.  A Facebook page is not forthcoming, so please post and share with your colleagues, friends and family: