Long Beach parents petition district to reduce screen time amid distance learning

From petitions to protests, parents and students are demanding that the Long Beach Unified School District reduces screen time.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- While distance learning is set to continue for most students in Long Beach until at least Jan. 28, 2021, parents and students are asking the Long Beach Unified School District to reduce screen time.

One of those parents is Robin Chancer, a therapist and mother of two.

"I'm grateful that we can do school from home, but overall, I think the amount of Zoom they're doing has been really overwhelming," Chancer said.

The Long Beach mom said her kindergartener spends 2.5-hours in front of the computer screen, while her 7-year-old spends up to 4.5 hours.

"An hour to an hour and a half in, I start noticing some changes in them; some behavior struggles, some tears," Chancer said. "They have trouble with helping to calm their emotions, helping their thoughts concentrate; they sort of feel kind of scattered and all over the place to me."

In September, Chancer created a Change.org petition, asking the district to reduce Zoom time.

"There actually is something that's called 'Zoom fatigue,'" said Santa Monica-based psychotherapist Lisa Lichtenstein. "Our cognition, or our minds, get kind of burned out. It's hard on adults and it's much harder on kids because their attention span is a lot smaller."

Lichtenstein said the screen time burnout, or even the lack of physical socialization, could lead to depression in students.

"Depression with kids looks more like temper tantrums and aggression, as opposed to adults it is melancholier," Lichtenstein said.

In addition, a LBUSD high school student Jason Danese created a similar petition, amassing over 22,000 signatures.

"The younger the kids are, they need more breaks, more free time, and they need smaller chunks of instruction time," Lichtenstein said.

In a statement, LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou wrote to ABC7 that the district "encourages families to continue supporting their children's online learning until we can safely transition to in-person classrooms."

SEE MORE: Long Beach parents protest distance learning with 'Zoom Logout'

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