Kids and Screen Time: The Stats, the Risks, and Parent Tips, Too

Fortune freelancer Mark Koba recently reported that venture funding for education technology hit the $1.87 billion mark in 2014 and will most likely reach $2 billion this year-a considerable increase over the $385 million spent five years ago. Meanwhile, our public schools spend more than $3 billion every year on electronics and have already given about 20% of students a computer.

Naturally, parents are buying into the craze, too–but it might actually be time to hit the pause button, instead. That’s because a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study found that we’re actually not getting all that much bang for our bucks.

Its bottom line conclusion: Schools that have invested big-time in technology have seen no noticeable improvement in results on the Programme for International Student Assessment, aka PISA. This is the case not just in math, but in reading and science, too. What’s more, in countries like China, South Korea, and Singapore which restrict computer use, students outdo their more tech-invested peers in countries like the United States.

In other words, says NPR’s John O’Connor: “The more time students spend online in school, the worse they do. Students with moderate technology use performed best on international exams.”

Nevertheless, the tech shopping sprees go unabated. In fact, a 2015 “Back to School Consumer Pulse Poll” of parents found that:

72% intended to buy back-to-school tech
38% intended to buy tech to meet classroom needs or requirements
Moreover, the K-12 parents in that poll planned on spending, on average, $390 on back-to-school tech alone, with 50% of them saying they already own a tablet. Another 44% were buying one this time around.

Such findings prompted author and freelancer Jenny Shank to write, “I don’t blame teachers for having the kids practice test-taking and typing-teachers are under a lot of pressure with the Common Core tests, and they are trying to make sure every kid is comfortable with computers. But at home, I can choose to unplug my kids.”

And it’s looking like more of us should follow her lead considering a recent Pew Research Center survey that found that:- ergonomic school bag singapore

Nearly 75% of our 13- to 17-year-olds have a smartphone or access to one;
24% of our teenagers report going online “almost constantly;”
92% of teens report going online every day;
56% of teens go online several times a day.
Moreover, a study in Pediatrics found “almost universal exposure, early adoption, and use of mobile devices among young children, and…

97% of the families own a television
97% said their children used some sort of mobile device, most of them starting before their first birthdays
75% of their children had access to some type of “smart” mobile device
20% of their 1-year-olds own a tablet computer
28% of 2-year-olds can navigate a mobile device with no help
21% of 4-year-olds own a gaming console
28% of the parents said they use a mobile device to put their children to sleep

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