Measure to cut down on “screen time” for infants in daycare heads to governor

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A measure that is headed to Governor Mary Fallin would separate kids from electronic devices while at licensed daycare facilities.

Senate Bill 806, which passed the full senate and full house, would require the childcare centers to follow nutrition standards and provide at least an hour for moderate and vigorous physical activity, including time in prone position for infants less than 6 months of age.

But, Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman) also proposes eliminating "screen time" for children less than 2 years old.

That includes television, movies, cell phones, video games, computers and other digital services.

"By that, we hope to promote physical activity throughout the day, frankly, so you don't have daycares taking kids, plopping them in front of the television and giving them a sugar drink and having them sit there all day," Sen. Sparks told KFOR in March. "The crux is to avoid a sedentary situation throughout the day and to promote a more active environment in our daycares."

One-in-three Oklahoma children are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are exceptions in the bill for electronics that involve physical activity or help with homework.

E-readers, smart boards and tablets are also permitted as long as they are used for educational activities.

Technology that helps kids with disabilities is also exempt from the bill, which permits "occasional special activities" like watching a movie.

"It's not a draconian absolute no TV but more of a guideline to help steer kids to a more active day as opposed to just sitting around," Sparks said. "There's some concern about a government overreach into the daily aspects of this, but I think it's important to remember that these are licensed daycares."

The measure, which passed the senate and the house, is now headed to Governor Fallin's office.