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Screenagers Initiative to Get Cell Phones out of Middle Schools Reaches Jefferson County

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GOLDEN, Colo. - Aug. 16, 2018 - Amzeal -- The team from the award-winning documentary, Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age and the team that developed the "Away For The Day" (AFTD) initiative to help transform middle schools into smartphone-free spaces, received more than 2,800 nationwide pledges within a week of their launch. One of those pledges came from Jefferson County resident, Angela Tapp.

As a mother of two and a licensed counselor in Jefferson County, Angela is leading the charge to get student smartphones out of JeffCo middle schools until the district mandates smartphones as part of the learning curriculum or as a 1:1 supported device.   She asserts there is a fundamental difference between a personal smartphone and a Chromebook and district families have been supporting Jeffco approved data assets and integrations such as robotics and smart boards for many years.

"The discussion surrounding smartphones is exhausting and it is resulting in substantial confusion and miscommunication.  Our community seems to now need strong, educated leadership at the district level to ease the stressor for all stakeholders.  The inconsistency is from school to school, from principal to principal, and from teacher to teacher" reports Tapp.  In some cases smartphones seem to be an undocumented middle school requirement - in other cases, policies are in place but there are significant enforcement challenges."

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Dr. Delaney Ruston, the physician, and filmmaker who created Screenagers and conducted a national survey (https://awayfortheday.squarespace.com/survey) on cell phone policies in schools and parental preferences learned that 55% of middle schools let students carry phones all day while 82% of parents do not want their kids using phones at school.  To find solutions, the team talked with dozens of middle schools that moved from allowing students to carry phones to adopting "Away For The Day" policies. They heard almost exclusively positive stories about the changes. From there, the "Away For The Day" initiative was born.

"Yes, cell phones can be tools—calculators, flash cards, etc.—and yes it takes some energy to keep them put away in middle schools, but I am 100% convinced that for the sake of our students, it is worth it and truly doable." —Delaney Ruston, MD and Screenagers' filmmaker.

A Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/jeffco-school-board-no-cell-phones-in-jeffco-middle-schools-remove-the-distraction-be-the-educated-adult) petition has been created to present to the Jefferson County School Board for the new school year.  It has received endorsements from many subject matter experts including local professors like Dr. Doug Duncan from the University of Colorado at Boulder and JeffCo mental health experts like Licensed Counselor Heather Aberg, to international authors such as Dr. Richard Freed, author of Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age.

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Dr. Duncan's digital distraction research (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.c...) indicates smartphones in the classroom can reduce a student's grade as much as a 1/2 a letter grade.  Aberg's focus on addressing JeffCo's mental health including its 700% increase in suicidal behaviors mimics Dr. Freed's message - both are sounding the alarm by calling attention to smartphone research where use by minors during school hours places students at greater risk for depression and suicide-related behaviors.

At a minimum, the group hopes for thought leadership from the district and educated policymaking.  They report many families are assuming educators and decision makers are already adhering to evidence-based research in this area, but the confusion demonstrates most are not up to research speed on impulse control, depression and the mental health of our young people.

If you are interested in learning more about the effort, you can contact Angela Tapp at info@angelatapp.com or call 720-722-2031 or you can find out more about the "Away For The Day" initiative by contacting Lisa Tabb at lisa@screenagersmovie.com or call 415-482-8726.

Media Contact
Angela Tapp: 720-722-2031/info@angelatapp.com
Lisa Tabb: 415-482-88726/lisa@screenagersmovie.com

Source: Away For The Day Screenagers
Filed Under: Education, Technology

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