Local News

District 153 sets screen time limits for students using district devices

What is enough screen time for children?

Homewood District 153 is experimenting with a new software feature that allows it to shut off district network access to student devices between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The trial will go on through the end of the school year, said Beth White, director of technology.

“We would like to promote healthy learning habits for our students,” she said.

Students who want to be on computers after 10 p.m. can use their personal devices.

When the initiative was announced in early April, it was described as a way “to help students and families take a ‘pause’ from technology during night time hours.” White said the district will be looking for feedback to the time limit in late May.

Managing the hardware
When schools shut down for the pandemic in March 2020, District 153 made devices available to each student. The district continued that policy, so 3-8 grade students have kept their devices.

White stressed that District 153 can manage the content, “Students’ internet access is always content filtered on district devices, so they are not able to get to inappropriate websites.”

The District 153 technology department maintains the 1,900 devices. The major repairs are for broken screens and broken hinges. It is estimated between 15 and 20 chargers go missing each week.

This school year, repairs for the student devices has been approximately $35,000, but because the district is self-insured, $28,000 of that cost had to come from the district’s budget, Superintendent Scott McAlister said.

The school board agreed in March to increase fees and to start charging fees for students in early grades.

“Currently, we charge two fees associated with devices for grades 5-8. The first is a device fee of $25, and the second is the insurance fee of $20,” White said. “At the start of this year, only grades 5-8 took their devices home with them every day. For next year, grades 3-8 will be taking their devices home, so we are simply adding the fees for grades 3-4. We also will begin charging the device fee only for grades K-2, since each student is assigned a device, but does not take them home every day.”

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week