New Zealand parent group calls for stricter guidelines for educational screen time

by Freya Lucas

April 02, 2019

A parent advocacy group in New Zealand is calling for official guidelines to moderate the amount of time children spend on screens in New Zealand education settings, the New Zealand Herald has reported.

 

The basic premise of their concern is the amount of time children spend accessing screens for educational purposes during their time at school and kindergarten. In support of their arguments, the group has established a website outlining the need for children’s screen time use to be moderated.

 

In terms of practical guidelines, the group would like to see children of primary age using screens for 25 minutes during their educational day, with children in high school able to use screens for a maximum of half of a school day.

 

Speaking with the New Zealand Herald, founder of the group, Julie Cullen, said some schools are exceeding the limits her group would like to see enforced, saying “some schools have one on one devices for five year olds”

 

Of most concern to Ms Cullen, and the group as a collective, were game based learning apps, such as Reading Eggs, which give children visual and auditory rewards when they are successful. “Even digital bursts of sparkles and cheering create a dopamine hit that encourages children to seek out the same response again and again” a spokesperson for the group told the Herald.

 

Dr Kate Highfield has contributed an Australian context to research into the gamification of learning, and the effects of interactions with technology on the mathematical learning of young children.

 

For those interested in learning more about Dr Highfield’s findings and their applications to the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context can read more here.

 

Ms Cullen said there was a lack of available literature to suggest that children benefited through learning via game based technologies, saying to the Herald  “Literature does exist that specifically suggests using the physiology of video game addiction to benefit learning via gamification.”

 

In response, the Herald provided readers with access to a summary report, which was produced last month by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which outlined that there are not enough evidence bases to draw from to support the development of guidelines in relation to optimal amounts of screen use or online activities.

 

The full coverage, as provided by the New Zealand Herald may be accessed here.

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