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Is Our Growing Reliance On Technology in the Classroom Healthy?

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

From using online tutorials and YouTube videos to every student having a personal laptop, schools are increasing their use of technology. Nowadays, kids ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 44.5 hours per week surfing the internet, playing video games, watching television, or otherwise having screen time – that’s almost two days per week! But can this overuse of computers and gadgets be hurting brains instead of expanding knowledge?

Computers and the internet have made it easier for students to access academic material at any given moment of the day. Suddenly, everyone can know the answer to a question within a couple of minutes with the use of Google or Wikipedia for free. But there is more than one issue with finding all the answers to our questions online.

If you spend twenty minutes doing homework but get all the answers by searching for them, did you really learn anything? Come the time for an exam, you might quickly find that you didn’t retain the information you got correct on a homework assignment. Additionally, what you are learning online could be incorrect. Since anyone with a computer can post a comment or make a website, they could share wrong or misinterpreted information.

Many students may be at a disadvantage when it comes to technology in the classroom. If they don’t have a personal computer at home, they are forced to fight with parents and siblings over internet use just to be able to complete homework assignments that are only accessible online. In addition, all this technology isn’t exactly cheap. It costs schools a lot of money to ensure that all students have Internet access and the latest teaching gadgets, but some argue that money is taking away from other learning experiences like arts, field trips, and continued teacher training.

Even students with computer access might not be benefiting from technology. One study from Duke University found that when students were given computers, their math and reading skills dropped. Although they are not sure why, they speculate that with all the distractions on the Internet, they spent their time playing games or watching videos instead of doing their homework.

Of course, as with everything, technology is great and useful in moderation. If students weren’t learning how to properly use computers and the Internet, they would be lost at many jobs that require these skills. However, finding a balance between old-school methods and new technology might be the best way to achieve success in the classroom.

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