Virginia Dept. of Education proposes health and safety guidelines for students’ screen time

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For the past year, students have relied on devices, but now we’re seeing some negative effects from all this extra screen time.

Research has shown the harmful physical health outcomes when children have excessive use of mobile devices during childhood and adolescence.

This is why the 2020 General Assembly passed House Bill 817, which required the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to collaborate with the Virginia Department of Health and medical professional societies to develop and distribute health and safety guidelines for the use of digital devices in public schools by the 2021-2022 school year.

Officials say the guidelines — which were recently opened up for public comment by the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall — address digital device use for different age ranges and developmental levels, the mount of time students spend on devises both in the classroom and at home, the appropriate frequency for breaks from screen time breaks, and even physical positioning with regard to ergonomics and posture.

For example, one recommendation is the 20/20/20 model to reduce eye strain. Every 20 minutes, you should shift your eyes to focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

In addition, experts encourage students to spend at least an hour outside every day to take advantage of natural light and multi-distance focal points in order to prevent a vision condition.

While we can’t stay away from screens at home, the proposal suggests parents help students develop health screen habits by discussing the importance of online safety, creating rules for device usage, encouraging positive behavior, etc.

Parents are also advised to monitor your child’s sleep patterns to make sure their screen time is not interfering with their ability to get enough sleep.

The proposal also encourages taking breaks involving physical movement, whether that means a one or two minute break every 15 to 20 minutes, or a five minute break every hour. This will help reduce stress and frustration while increasing attention and productivity for students and for yourself.

You can read the full list of VDOE’s proposed health and safety guidance for digital devices in the classroom below. For a more condensed infographic of the recommended guidelines, scroll to the last two pages:

If you wish to view and enter comments on this document, just click here before 11:59 p.m. on April 28.

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