Secondary schools across the country are already using tablet devices in the classroom instead of textbooks with many more schools installing them for the new school year in September.
Mark Bundschu, a parent and technology expert, has challenged the Departments of Health and Education, and Boards of Management to recognize the potential risks to our children and the need for an open debate on the issue.
Mark Bundschu, a father of five and owner of Click.ie Computer Store in Letterkenny, said the effects of the new iPad generation must be investigated in schools.
“Has anyone considered the effect on the eyes of children of this amount of computer use? They will be sitting in front of a computer screen for up to 6 hours during school, another 2-3 hours doing their homework and, many of them will then watch television, catch up on social media, or play a computer game’.
A website has been set up as a forum to debate the issue and garner opinions via a survey.
The website www.ipadoreyesore.com has been set up by parents in the hope of getting the Departments of Education and Health to carry out a thorough assessment on the possible health risks, before any more schools go ahead and introduce the measure and school books are gone forever.
Martin O’Brien, Past President of the Association of Optometrists Ireland said it is the lack if knowledge on use of the new computer tablets which is the real danger.
“From a health point of view, the tablet devices themselves are not the problem, they are ergonomically user-friendly. It’s the lack of education in how to use them correctly that can lead to problems.
“Staring at the computer too closely, not taking regular breaks, sitting in poor lighting, not getting enough sunlight because of being inside on computers, and sitting with poor posture; it is these bad habits that cause health problems. We need to educate parents, teachers and children in how to avoid these habits.
“As well as that they need to be able to recognize symptoms should they arise. Early detection of the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome and a visit to your optometrist can make all the difference in avoiding long-term damage and maintaining healthy eyesight’ said Martin.
Computer expert Mark Bundschu adds that someone in Government has to show leadership on the matter.
“Is the Department of Education asleep at the wheel while the health of 12 year old children is put at risk with tablet devices? Firstly, Myopia and Computer Vision Syndrome have been completely ignored; secondly, there’s the potential for children to download adult content and games accessing them during class; thirdly there are major issues around sustained concentration, whereby children will intersperse their homework or classwork with regular visits to Facebook or e-mail.
“Finally, there’s the loss of creative thinking skills where everything in an E-book is dumbed down by spoon-feeding animations and explanations throughout the text,” says Mark.