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.


swedemom said...

I really agree with you, Jenna.
Although, I am very grateful in some ways for technology. My oldest son has TERRIBLE handwriting and we've discovered that he has a serious problem with his fine motor skills. We are working on it, but being able to type papers is saving him. Writing is something he hates because it is physically painful and takes so long. So I'm grateful that he has an alternative. That's not to say that I don't want his handwriting to improve. We've been working on it for several years now, but I am grateful there are options.

swedemom said...

Oh, and I don't think kids need ipads to learn. That's a waste of property tax dollars.

Royalbird said...

Oh I agree there are definitely some benefits. I had a little girl in one of my classes who was mostly blind and we were able to get this machine for her that was a computer screen that enlarged everything I passed out so I didn't have to make special copies for her and she was able to keep up with the class. There are definitely good things about it, but I still think basic skills need to be learned without the aid of technology where possible. And yeah, i-pads are not necessary for learning, what's wrong with good old textbooks?

swedemom said...

Learning the basic skills in anything is so important. I've been thinking about how having so much processed food and convenience foods has destroyed cooking and good health habits in America. People don't know how to make bread, cakes, etc.

I think that is actually why we have such a big problem with obesity among the poorest people in the U.S. Cooking is a skill they've lost.

Royalbird said...

Ah, yes. I so agree. And I've heard so many people complain that eating healthy is more expensive, but it's not because when you cook and bake from scratch, like homemade bread, it is so much healthier than the alternative. It's a lost art and I agree it has contributed to the obesity epidemic.

Jackie said...

No way! They are seriously considering this. INSANE!


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