- Dr. Nicholas Kardaras presented research on the negative effects of technology abuse on students to the House Education & Employment Committee.
- Children who spend more than two hours daily in front of screens have a higher chance of developing attention problems, leading to academic deficiencies and shorter attention spans, according to Kardaras.
- He proposed implementing no-phone policies instead of out-of-sight policies, citing the successful example of New York City schools.
- Kardaras also recommended that technology-free zones be created for kindergarten through sixth grade.
The House Education & Employment Committee met on Thursday to listen to a presentation given by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras on how addiction to technology affects student behavior and outcomes, deliberating potential policy moves to reduce screen time in schoolchildren.
Kardaras brought forth a wide array of research focused on technology abuse and students, telling the committee that children who spent more than two hours a day in front of a screen were twice as likely to have attention problems, leading to academic deficiencies and shorter attention spans.
Moreover, Kardaras cited a study that concluded the scanned brains of 3 to 5-year-old preschool students who use screens for more than the recommended one hour per day without parental involvement had lower levels of development in the brain’s white matter — an area key to the development of the language, literacy, and cognitive skills.
When asked by committee members, Kardaras recommended out-of-sight policies in classrooms, anecdotally referring to the New York City school system that formerly implemented the rule with much success.
“What tends to not work is having out-of-sight policies, where kids are allowed to have their phones so long as they don’t take them out,” said Kardaras. “Because then the teacher spends literally half of the period telling the three or four or five kids to put your phone away and it really takes away from instructional time. What we see works best … is a no-phone policy.”
Karadaras subsequently presented data showing an increase in standardized testing scores following the enforcement of New York City’s no-phone policy, then going on to speculate that a reduction of screen time in schools would also decrease rates of bullying and harassment.
He also recommended to lawmakers that grades kindergarten through sixth grade be deemed technology-free zones.
Committee members also touched on the potential online dangers presented to children and teenagers through algorithmic targeting and data harvesting.
Yesterday, Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a proposal that he refers to as a ‘Digital Bill of Rights,’ which includes provisions to prevent ‘Big Tech’ companies like Facebook and TikTok from obtaining and selling the online data of minors.
“I ask teenagers, do you see what’s happening here?” Said Kardaras.” You’re being played, you’re being manipulated, you’re being monetized.”
Several bills have been filed in recent weeks to restrict access to TikTok and other popular social media platforms, including a bill amendment filed by Rep. Brad Yeager that would require Florida schools to block students from accessing social media sites on school grounds. The legislation also seeks to implement social media safety education in grades 6 through 12.
Florida school districts have long been permitted to revoke student access from websites via a firewall, with the measure oftentimes utilized to prevent access to websites hosting lewd or controversial content.
A separate bill filed by Sen. Danny Burgess in December also aims to include social media education in Florida’s standardized curriculum.