Healthcare providers urge Bend-La Pine schools to remove iPads from elementary grades and curb use of ‘addictive technology’ in classes

Will hand over the ‘letter of concern’ signed by 135 to the school board on Tuesday evening

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – On behalf of 135 local pediatricians, child psychiatrists, child psychologists, therapists, social workers, counselors and behavioral health providers, a representative from the health care community will present a letter of concern regarding the use of technology (iPads and phones) in Bend-La Pine Schools to the Bend-La Pine School Board on Tuesday evening.

The letter signed by the 135 providers includes recommended technology policy reforms and an offer to work with the district in establishing best practice technology policies for students’ mental and physical health, as well as their academic success.

The letter will be presented via public comment at the BLP School Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the BLP Education Center at 520 NW Wall Street in Bend, the group Well Wired said Friday in a news release, which continues in full below:

Local pediatrician Dr. Kate Broadman has rallied the support of 135 (and counting) healthcare providers who all express concerns about the way iPads and phones are being used in Bend-La Pine schools, including how the addictive technology is affecting behavior, mood and affects children’s attention. , academic performance and mental and physical health, all of which are reflected in their practices.

They also express the urgent need for technology policy change in Bend-La Pine schools, adding to the growing call for action in the community. The letter follows local healthy technology advocacy group Well Wired’s efforts in this area, including their parent survey of nearly 1,000 respondents, a presentation to the BLP Superintendent and public comments to the school board in May.

Well Wired is a healthy technology advocacy group and family community in Central Oregon. The group was founded in the fall of 2023 by Ami Formica and Brooke Mues, two local parents with backgrounds and careers in education, counseling, psychology, marketing and business.

On June 18, Well Wired will also attend the school board meeting to provide public comment. They encourage parents, caregivers and teachers to join them in sharing their concerns and stories about students’ distracting and problematic use of technology at school – including children playing video games; children watch sports and movies; children watching pornography, even as young as elementary school; Children are filming fights and children are being cyberbullied – all of this is happening on school-issued iPads and on students’ phones while they are at school and during lessons.

“The reliance on iPads for teaching reading, math and other subjects hinders the development of important skills such as handwriting, creativity, critical thinking and personal connection,” the group says.

Additionally, the report claims that studies show the iPad curriculum is ineffective, and that the district has failed to demonstrate that it improves test scores in Bend-La Pine schools. Finally, Well Wired says that current research shows clear evidence that using addictive technology increases the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes. According to Mental Health America, youth mental health care in Oregon ranked 50th out of 50 states in 2023.

“Children spend too much time on screens at home and school, and not enough time socializing with friends in person, playing outside and having face-to-face experiences that will help them develop into thriving, healthy adults “, says the organization. said in its press release.

“Bend-La Pine schools must recognize that addictive technology contributes to the youth mental health crisis and consider how teaching with addictive technology contributes to distracted and superficial learning. Schools have a duty to better protect, support and protect our children and teach.”

Well Wired, Dr. Kate Broadman and their community of healthcare providers are calling for collaboration and consultation with the district on technology policy reform to improve the physical and mental well-being of the children in Bend-La Pine Schools. Below is a list of some of the suggested and recommended technology policies:

  1. Remove iPads for the youngest primary school classes;
  2. Set age-appropriate screen time limits for students during the school day;
  3. Remove YouTube and other addictive, gamified programs from school iPads;
  4. Whenever possible, prioritize pencil-to-paper learning;
  5. Use iPads only when it clearly increases the depth of learning or introduces a skill that cannot otherwise be taught effectively (such as coding), and keep them away from students’ desks when not in use;
  6. Create and enforce stronger policies around phone use in schools, ideally by adopting a district-wide “phone-free school” program, as many other districts across the country have done.

Since launching in fall 2023, Well Wired has developed a database of more than 500 concerned parents, teachers and healthcare professionals in Central Oregon; more than 600 people had registered for their five ‘Healthy Tech Talks’, organized by PTOs from primary schools; surveyed 1,000 BLP parents (93% of whom wish phones kept out of the classroom); presented to Bend-La Pine School District Superintendent Cook, Deputy Superintendent Nordquist and their technical leadership team; and supports Oregon House Rep. Emerson Levy on a possible phone-free school bill, including a presentation to the House Education Committee at a recent informational hearing.