Friday, January 22, 2010

Seven and a Half Hours

A blog seems like an unlikely place to lament the use of technology and media in the world, so I'll try to keep the lamenting to a minimum. Still, it takes a stouter heart than mine not to be a little sad to read that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend about seven and a half hours a day using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device. That's pretty incredible when you think about it. What makes it sad, though is that those who spend the most time with the devices get the lowest grades. The heaviest users were also most likely to say that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school. I might argue that the causation on that might be the opposite of what the sentence construction would indicate, but let's not quibble.

Given all this, I couldn't help but think about all the efforts to move the latest technology into the classroom. I mean, is that really what kids need?

The key quote from the article in terms of influencing my thinking on this comes from the report on which the article is based. Basically, it says that it's "time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, 'like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.'"

Does ubiquity (and possibly inevitability) justify something? I don't know. However, this does seem to be part of the new landscape for kids and we ignore that at our own peril. Like all technology, these devices are not good or evil in themselves, but it all depends on how they are used. If a teacher can find a good and meaningful way to use them, go for it. Otherwise, I don't know that we're helping.

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