Kardashian Pics, Screen Time Hits. Why Parents Question Tech Program

By Katy Bergen
The Kansas City Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Parents in one Kansas City school district are sharing concerns that administrators have not equipped parents with the tools to monitor screen content or device usage.

SHAWNEE, Kan.

Five years ago, the Shawnee Mission School District gave iPads or laptops to every student as part of a lauded $20 million program.

Recently, more than a dozen parents publicly gave the district examples of how those devices weren’t such a good idea:

-A parent who doesn’t allow her young children to have technology devices, but has little recourse to opt out of the program.

-High school students who use school-issued laptops to watch movies, chat with their friends or cheat on tests during class.

-An elementary school boy who sees an “explicit” photograph of Kim Kardashian while using the CNN app on his classroom iPad.

In 2014, Shawnee Mission implemented the 1:1 program as districts across the country embraced technology as an innovative way to personalize learning and prepare students for the modern workforce.

At a recent school board meeting, parents implored the district to form an advisory board to review the program, which they said needs stronger guidelines, improved monitoring systems and continued research on its long-term impact on child development.

The informally organized parent group had made plans to address elected officials at a public meeting after meeting privately with board members and administrators about concerns earlier this month.

At the school board meeting, they learned Superintendent Michael Fulton had already approved plans to form a technology advisory board that would “inform both current and future practice for the use of digital tools.”

He said the board would convene this winter and submit recommendations by June.

“We want to make sure that we are using tools in ways that are appropriate,” Fulton told parents.

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