Monday, January 10, 2011
How Much Does Technology Really Help?
Recently, I heard a news story about the decision of one school board about whether or not to give each student their own ipad. My husband and I had a lengthy discussion about this.
Do kids as young as first grade really need such technologies? I mean, I can understand high school students, who probably use the Internet a lot and need to be a little more up-to-date on technology, but little primary grade students are still trying to learn basic skills in reading, writing and math. I'm beginning to believe that the advancements in technology and the expectation for little kids to use it has been a huge factor in contributing to the dumbing down of our children.
Yes, dumbing down. This generation of children does not need to learn basic math. Why should they? They can just access their calculators on their cell phones. This generation of children doesn't need to learn how to read either. There is probably some app on some phone or ipad or laptop that reads out loud for them whatever e-book they are "reading". This generation doesn't need to know how to read time from a face clock when there are digital clocks all around them (although I'm fairly certain this has become a problem since the late 80's, early 90's). And writing is even worse--nobody needs to perfect their handwriting anymore and make it legible because we can type. Even though there are great other skills that are learned with perfecting one's handwriting--like patience, perseverance, etc.
Future generations won't even need to learn face-to-face communication skills because everything will be done by technology. With the way things are evolving, children will sit at home facing a computer screen for all their schooling and there will be little human interaction.
Not sure what to do about this trend, but I think the lack of interpersonal communication, the changing over from real books to e-books, all of this is losing certain skills that enhance our ability to think and reason and will truly contribute to "dumbing" our society down. It's already happening everywhere.
I have a nephew who is a genius on the computer at the age of 8. But he has no idea how to interact with other children. He struggles with basic skills, like tying shoes, and keeping himself entertained without a screen of some sort in front of him. I think that it's sad that an 8-year-old has so little imagination because his whole life technology has just been shoved at him as a way to keep him quiet and entertained. Yes, he may be able to navigate an i-pod better than I can (and that's an understatement--I still own no sort of mp3 player--I like listening to old-fashioned radio and CD's), but he can't come up with something to do on a rainy day where the power has gone out and he's all out of batteries.
I don't think we are doing our children any favors by offering so much technology. I think they need to learn basic skills first and master those before switching to technology. I think that elementary age children don't need a personal i-pad or other form of technology--buy paper and pencils and use the money the school district would have from NOT buying such things and pay 5-6 more teachers and have smaller class sizes.
As much as I love having email, Facebook, blogging, and webcams to communicate with friends and family everywhere, I really detest how much technology rules our lives.