Opinion: Eyes on the Board Act

Julie Barrett believes The Eyes on the Board Act is not just good policy, but it may be the very thing that starts turning our education system around and getting our students back on track.
Julie Barrett, Conservative Ladies of Washington founder

Julie Barret, founder of the Conservative Ladies of Washington, asks Washington residents to contact Sen. Maria Cantwell and ask her to move the bill forward

Julie Barrett, founder
Conservative Ladies of Washington

It seems like everything changed in 2009, when smartphones became pervasive at my oldest child’s middle school. For all of us parenting during this time, this was uncharted territory, and I don’t think any of us could have foreseen just how sideways this experiment would go. Fast forward to 2024: I have five children, the oldest 28 and the youngest are 17, and all of them have iPhones. If I could go back in time and get a do-over, I would hold off on smart phones until age 16, minimum.

We’ve learned a lot in the last 15 years and sadly, we have watched an entire generation of children suffer the consequences of having social media in the palm of their hand. Statistics show that 95% of teenagers are actively using social media. The US Surgeon General reports: “we do not yet have enough evidence to determine if social media use is sufficiently safe for them — especially during adolescence, a particularly vulnerable period of brain development.”

What we do know is that we have a youth mental health crisis. American adolescents are more depressed, anxious, and suicidal than ever before.  This crisis appears to have been exacerbated, if not caused, by excessive smartphone and social media

“In a 2021 Ariel University study of 84 research papers, researchers found several negative cognitive effects of smartphone addiction, including difficulties in emotional regulation, impulsivity, shyness, and low self-esteem. Subjects with smartphone addiction had comorbidities with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD and alcohol use disorder.” Frontiers | Excessive Smartphone Use Is Associated With Health Problems in Adolescents and Young Adults (frontiersin.org)

We have information now that we didn’t have before and it’s time for us to step up and protect our children from the distractions and the dangers of cell phones and social media.

While parents have a central role to play in restricting smartphone access, there are simple steps policymakers and schools can take as well.  Consider the Eyes on the Board Act, smart bipartisan legislation from U.S. Senators Ted Cruz from Texas and Sen. John Fetterman from Pennsylvania. Their bill, which would require schools receiving federal broadband funding to block social media on subsidized networks and devices, is an excellent step in protecting kids.  It would help keep kids off social media during the school day, so they can focus on learning and in-person interaction, rather than distracting notifications and mindless scrolling.

The Eyes on the Board Act would also provide policymakers with greater insight into screen use and ed tech in schools.  Unfortunately, data shows that online learning platforms such as iReady and iXL, which are used widely in schools across the country, are not working for our students. Public school test scores are at an all-time low.  NAEP reported in 2022 that the math test scores for 4th and 8th grade nationwide saw the largest declines since 1990! Reading scores had also declined and were lower than 2005 levels We should be asking whether excessive screen and technology use in schools is part of the problem, rather than the solution

We have a duty to the children of America to provide them with quality education and to do that in 2024 means that we need to take action to remove the distractions of social media and screen time. The Eyes on the Board Act is not just good policy, but it may be the very thing that starts turning our education system around and getting our students back on track, academically, mentally, and emotionally.

Take Action! Please consider emailing Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, the chair of the Commerce Committee, and ask her to please move this bill forward.

POLL: Should student cellphones be banned from school classrooms?*
341 votes

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