President's proposed budget cuts slash after-school funding = more screen time

“President Trump’s proposed budget will lead to even more screen time for our nation’s children.” —Dr. Delaney Ruston, Screenagers

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In the president’s plan, the Department of Education’s total budget would be slashed by $9 billion. One of the hardest hit will be after-school programs, key support for families.

More than $1.2 billion in grants for after-school programs are on the chopping block. These programs are essential for reducing time kids, and teens spend on screens and increasing academic and behavioral performance.  

“The research shows that when kids are in afterschool programs, their self-confidence increases, their behavior improves and their grades go up,” says Dr. Ruston.

School-aged children spend on average 6.5 hours a day playing, watching and interacting with screens—this does not include school work.  

“The growing amount of time kids and teens spend on screens each day is disturbing,” says  Dr. Ruston. “There are definitive studies that correlate more screen time with lower test scores and an overall decrease in academic performance.”

Jodi Grant, Executive Director of Afterschool Alliance, knows that after school programs are an essential part of supporting families who need it the most.  “The current federal investment in afterschool is modest, but it is absolutely vital to families and communities across the country, supporting afterschool for 1.6 million children. Still, for every child now in an afterschool program, two more are waiting to get in. At this time when one in five children in this country is unsupervised after the school day ends, we should be investing much more in afterschool programs, not cutting the funding we have,” says Grant.

After school programs not only provide a safe place for many low-income kids with working parents but gives these kids an enriching environment that helps them succeed in the classroom and grow emotionally. These programs fill children’s lives with activities and mentoring that replace screen time.

If these engaging programs are cut, children, especially those from lower-income households that rely on federally-funded after-school activity centers, will spend more time on devices.