Safe digital environment in times of eLearning at home for children under the age of 18 years

A Russian perspective

In co-operation with the Russian committee for the protection from non-ionising radiation the Scientific research centre for children’s health at the Russian ministry of health has published recommendations for the use of digital media during the school shutdown*

The guidelines for the home lessons during restrictions of school hours are meant for children and their parents, grandparents and all who help children with eLearning during this time of necessary limitations for schools and other educational institutions.

  1. Children under the age of 18 years doing eLearning at home should preferably use personal computers and notebooks with wired connections to the internet. For workstations with wireless WiFi the distance between the router and the computer should be at least 5 metres.
  2. The computer keyboard should be cleaned and disinfected with an antiseptic agent each day before starting to work. The screen should be cleaned and disinfected in the same way.
  3. Prior to using the keyboard both the child and the assisting adults should wash their hands.
  4. In order to minimise the risk of visual disturbances and strains of the musculoskeletal system it is required to set up the workstation in a way convenient for the child to work at the computer or laptop (the height of table and chair need to correspond to the sitting height of the child). The screen brightness needs to be properly adjusted.
  5. The main light source for the workstation of the child should be sideways from the screen (neither behind the screen nor behind the person working at the computer). The brightness of the light source should be equal to the screen brightness.
  6. Tablets may be used for eLearning by teenagers above the age of 15 years. Wash your hands before using the tablet and wipe the screen with a disinfectant (wet towel). The WiFi router needs to be more than 5 metres away from the workstation of the pupil. The tablet should be placed on a tablet stand in an angle of 30cm, the distance between the screen and the eyes of the pupil needs to be at least 50cm. Neither should laptops or tablets be placed on the lap or held in the hands nor should they be used in a lying position.
  7. For all age groups younger than 18 years it is necessary to refrain from using smartphones for eLearning (reading, information gathering).
  8. It is recommended for all age groups to primarily use printed books for reading and jotters or pocketbooks to take notes.
  9. Children younger than six years should not use computer equipment at all for learning purposes at home.
  10. It is recommended to minimise the use of computers for learning purposes at home for children between 6 and 12 years of age. If unavoidable, the cumulative time spent in front of a screen (including television) should not exceed two hours per day for children of this age group. The time regimen should follow the rule “one to three” (30 minutes rest for 10 minutes computer work) for children between 6 and 8 years of age, and “one to two” (20 minutes rest for 10 minutes computer work) for those between 8 to12.
  11. For children between 12 to 18 years of age computers should be used as follows: “one to two” for children between 12 to 15 years (60 minutes rest for 30 minutes computer work) and : “one to one” for children between 15 to 18 years (45 minutes rest for 45 mi-nutes computer work). Cumulative time spent in front of a screen including television should not exceed 3,5 to 4 hours per day in children of this age group.
  12. To avoid visual exhaustion, it is necessary to do eye exercises in the rest phases; to prevent general exhaustion light work-up (knee-bends, push-ups etc) should be performed.
  13. Headphones should not be used longer than one hour continuously and not louder than 60%.
  14. The room where the eLearning takes place needs to be aired before the session for at least 15 minutes and after each hour.
  15. Don’t use tablets or smartphones for eLearning in open air (in parks, playgrounds or similar places).                 •

*  These recommendations were developed based on data from the programme of multi-center research about safe digital educational tools for children, on materials of the National Research Institute for Childrens’ Health and “NICH Childrens Health” and of the “Russian National Committee for the Protection against non-ionising radiation”, also using recommendations of the World Health Organization and best practice guidelines from around the world regarding hygiene of digital education environments for children.

Russian sources: http://www.emf-net.ru/index.php?id=210 and https://niigd.ru/news/bezopasnost-cifrovoj-sredy-v-usloviyax-distancionnogo-obucheniya-detej-do-18-let.html; translation from Russian into German by https://www.diagnose-funk.org/publikationen/artikel/detail&newsid=1544

(Translation Current Concerns)

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