New law aims to limit screen time for young Minnesota students

[anvplayer video=”5129054″ station=”998122″]

School is just a few weeks away for most Minnesota students. Among the changes they may notice this year is a law that aims to limit screen time for some of the state’s youngest learners.

The law took effect July 1 and says children in publicly-funded preschools and kindergartens can’t use screens without teacher engagement. There are exceptions in certain cases.

Representative Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) sponsored the bill and says the idea first came from parents and constituents. Then, COVID-19 and distance learning intensified the need.

“Kids learn best with tactile play where they are using all their senses, and they are moving, too. Screens tend to keep us pretty stationary,” Morrison said.

“It’s really reinforcing what is already happening in schools,” said Olivia Christensen with the Minnesota Department of Education.

Christensen says screens can be positive and productive when teachers are engaged and part of the equation. It’s called “active use” of screens or “co-viewing,” which is what the new law is designed to promote.

“Students might be using a screen … but there are questions and answers the teachers are engaging in …the teachers are asking about comprehension during the screen use and after the use,” she said.

When school starts back up in a few weeks, the law will be implemented on a district-by-district basis but the Minnesota Department of Education will offer guidance if needed.