Tech ‘time-out’ – Impact questioned

Youngsters could be hurt, not helped, by computers in U.S. public schools, says a group critical of technology in the classroom.

The group says schools’ surging investment in technology promises little long-term benefit and could be better spent on teachers and other improvements, the Associated Press reported Sept. 12.

A report by the Alliance for Childhood says U.S. schools have invested more than $27 billion in computers and Internet hookups in the past five years – despite limited research on the impact of computers on education.

Computers could account for rising health problems among children, including repetitive stress injuries, eye strain and obesity, the report says.

And it says too much focus on technology could distract youngsters from social interaction they need to build language skills and bonds with adults, the report says.

“We’ve gone down this highway of bringing computers into elementary schools with so little debate, and spending such huge sums,” Joan Almon, head of the U.S. branch of the Alliance for Childhoodl – an international partnership of educators, doctors and psychologists — told AP.

The group, based in College Park, Md., wants a “time-out” from policies that emphasize computers as an ideal education tool for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school students.

Many experts see little evidence linking computer use and higher school achievement, AP said.

A 1998 study by the Educational Testing Service found that fourth- and eighth-graders scored 15 percent higher on math tests after using computers to play learning games, but derived no benefit using computers to drill on basic skills, AP said.

For full story, go to New York Times.

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