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Shawnee Mission Parents Say School Administrators Are Ignoring Their Complaints About Screen Time

Elle Moxley
KCUR 89.3
Shawnee Mission students use iPads to take notes during a Project Lead The Way class.

Parents in the Shawnee Mission School District say students are spending too much time on their iPads, and they don’t think administrators are taking their concerns seriously.

“We asked for a comprehensive review,” said Gretchen Shanahan, one of the parents who's serving on the district's digital learning task force. “We asked for data, and the response we got from administrators was that would be a step backward when we need to move forward.”

Back in November, Shanahan and other parents asked the school board to look at how the district-owned devices were being used in the classroom because they were worried about screen time and inappropriate content. And last month, a student at Brookridge Elementary told the board during public comment that he’s experienced bad posture and eye strain after spending too much time on his iPad at school.

“I do not want to completely eradicate them because I feel we are very privileged to have them in our schools,” sixth grader Brandon Richard said. “However, I do not think we should have four to five hours and sometimes even more on the iPads.”

But Shanahan said the use of devices seems like a foregone conclusion during task force meetings.

“I’m not anti-technology by any means,” Shanahan said. “I just would like to see that we find balance. I think parents deserve to know what their children, especially elementary students, are doing on these iPads.”

School districts everywhere are trying to figure out that balance. Last month, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District announced parents could use the app Securly to monitor their children’s internet usage. Parents will get a weekly email with links to the content their kids accessed on the district-issued devices.

A spokesman for the Shawnee Mission School District said the district would wait to comment on the work of the digital learning task force until after recommendations are made next month.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

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