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Parents Struggle to Balance Screen Time Rules With Digital Homework

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As technology becomes a more common feature of classrooms and computer-based testing becomes the norm, even the youngest learners are being pushed to master keyboarding and computing skills. But what does it feel like for a kindergartener, whose family has faithfully followed the American Academy of Pediatric's suggestions to limit screen time, to arrive at school and immediately be assessed on a computer?

In her PBS MediaShift essay, Jenny Shank describes the tensions emerging between parents with low-tech child rearing styles, teachers frantically trying to prepare students for computer-based tests that could determine the future of their careers, and districts following the latest trends. Shank's essay gives voice to that "stuck in the middle" feeling when a parent supports the idea of technology integration in school generally, but isn't sure she thinks it's being done well. Shank writes:

"I'm all for teaching kids about technology, which will be a part of their personal and work lives forever. But shouldn’t they learn how to write software programs rather than how to scan a text and answer multiple-choice questions on a screen? Shouldn’t they learn about how to assemble computer hardware, build an object with a 3-D printer, or shoot and edit digital video footage rather than passively watch as a computer reads them a book? Many studies suggest that when people read on a screen rather than paper, they read less attentively and retain less. So why aren’t schools using computers for what these machines are actually good at instead?"