School overwhelms kids with screens

The Collectif Attention brings together associations fighting against excessive exposure to screens. He sent his recommendations to Caroline Janvier, MP LREM at the origin of a bill to prevent excessive exposure of children to screens and will send it to the candidates for the presidential elections. He is organizing the Assises de l’Attention on March 19th in Paris (registration here).


The finding of overexposure of children from screens finally seems to be entering the public debate ! Already monopolized several hours the day before [1]more than 50 % of kids increased their screen time during lockdown. The bill sought by MP Caroline Janvier (LREM) to contain this scourge and the column published on the subject in The world last december, « Child screen overload could become the scourge of the century » testify to an incipient awareness that we welcome. But the proposals must be up to the challenge: we do not treat « evil of the century » with bandages.

Health professionals, children, teachers, parents, we are seeing the devastation of the youth from the digital boom. Speech, attention, learning, socialization disorders, impact of waves, consequences of cyber harassment and trivialized access to inappropriate content: what we are seeing in this hyper-connected society shows all the hallmarks of a major public health problem – in addition to a well-documented one environmental impact. In order to treat it, it is necessary to fight not only the symptoms, but also the causes of the ailment. And question the economic interests that underlie them and the political and ideological choices that promote them.

Parents can’t do everything

Current thinking focuses on « prevention » : Warnings on products and in health brochures, restrictive rules of use in certain places, raising awareness, even « formation », Parents. It’s up to them to understand the dangers and limit the damage. In the face of exploding pornography and violence, a February 24, 2022 law proposes« Encouraging the use of parental controls ». So, parents only need to turn on the control feature to protect their kids from inappropriate content. But isn’t it misleading to advertise? « Good Practices »without ever questioning the fact that these machines get into the hands of children from an early age ? Not to mention the obligation to submit a QR Vaccination code from 12 years, which implicitly encourages the ownership of a smartphone. So whose responsibility ? Is it up to the parents that all « prevention » need to rest while increasingly being encouraged by school to use digital technologies ? So is it solely up to parents to protect young people from screen addiction? ?

It is time to denounce the political choices made in education. Since 2015, the digital school project of the national education system has been showing the objective « that young people are at eye level in the digital world ». At that time he was allotted one billion euros and we remember the contract that Minister Vallaud-Belkacem signed with Microsoft. Since 2019, regions have been moving towards High School 4.0, spending significant sums to equip students with laptops (€42 million in the Grand Est) and textbooks are disappearing, making way for these free digital tools. In 2021, the state invested 115 million euros as part of the restructuring plan « Support pedagogical digital transformation projects in all elementary schools ».

Huge investments are being made to digitize schools. Are they paramount or even necessary? ? Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema

The political choice made in high places is clear: to immerse our children in digital technology from an early age, under the pretext of offering them something new and necessary « more efficient ». But, as we have long advocated, educate THROUGH digital does not form TO Digital. In reality, the digital school does not improve learning, on the contrary. Classes remain overloaded due to a lack of investment in people, and children become increasingly absorbed by screens, which have become ubiquitous in their school days, on top of an already excessive usage elsewhere. The school remained one of the few places where they could be preserved.

What we see is that the development of « educational digital » does more to make them consumers of new technology than informed users. Number of parents of students « 4.0 » testify that the use of these tools turns out to be much more « leisure » as educational and that they are unable to control their children’s use. In reality the « Digital transformation of the school » Accelerates and strengthens screen dependency without improving learning success – this was already confirmed by the 2015 PISA study. The institution has made ed-tech lobbyists its own « Experts | »which we denounced in an open letter to the organizers of the Estates General of Digital Education ; Teachers, parents and high school students were not invited to comment on these new practices. Imposed on teaching their children how to use digital technologies and protecting them from them, parents feel guilty and powerless. Forbidden to return this « progress » questionable.

That « school modernization » ignores children’s interests, their physical, mental, intellectual and psychological health. The plan appears to be to turn the school into a market, as explained in a 1998 article diplomatic world. A school whose goal would no longer be to emancipate young people, but to sell theirs to the digital industry « available brain time » [2].


This forum was written by Collectif Attention (signers below) and co-signed by:

• Nicolas Berard, journalist and author of 5G, mon amour

• Cédric Biagini, editor and co-director of Critiques de l’école numérique

• Philippe Bihouix, engineer and writer at Karine Mauvilly of Disaster of the Digital School: Advocacy for a School Without Screens

• Frédéric Bordage, founder of the GreenIT collective

• François Jarrige, historian and lecturer at the University of Burgundy

• Fabien Lebrun, sociologist and professor at the University of Nantes

• Yannick Meneceur, Magistrate subject to availability

For the attention collective:

• Audrey Martayan (We Nobody)

• Jean-Luc Quilling (We nobody)

• Catherine Lucquiaud (L’NOW)

• Yves Mary (looks up)

• Florent Souillot (looks up)

• Marie-Claude Bossiere (CoSE)

• Anne Lise Ducanda (Screenpeace and CoSE)

• Janine Busson-Baude (Childhood TV: Danger ?)

• Sabine Duflo (CoSE)

• Stephen Kerckhove (Acting for the Environment)

• Herve Lemeur (Technologos)

• Sophie Pelletier (PRIARTEM)

• Samuel Sauvage (HOP)

• Mylene Pereira (Screenpeace)

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