Education and Technology- are the children benefitting?

wall-e dystopian future
Photo by Ian Zuppinger

These days it’s not uncommon to see children glued to a piece of gadget one way or another. And they do so to the point where they are so completely engrossed, nothing can pry it out of their hands. In schools, IT computer rooms are less and less important compared to say, computer workstations and LAN ports in a specific location convenient to the students. Technology is everywhere.


Photo by Alec Couros
Does anyone remember the Radium Girls? For those not familiar, it was a tragic period in the 1920s where factory girls were duped into using their mouth to regularly reshape brushes used to paint radio-luminescent liquid onto clock and watch faces. They were assured it was a safe substance when in fact they were getting a mouthful of radiation and then even when they fell ill and their teeth started falling out and bones became honeycombs, the issue continued to be covered up because everyone was afraid of the the big bad corporation (and also appreciated the dollar bills doled out by them).

As the inevitable happens- where we see children (at a vulnerable stage of growth) focusing and interacting more and more with electronic gadgets, where classrooms are progressively filled with mobile tablets to replace books; we have to ask one important question- is it safe?
Which of course could open a can of worms- will the children develop myopia much earlier, will they have cognitive difficulties, will their social lives be affected?
And as yet unanswered, how will wireless technology affect us humans- let alone the children.
These questions need expert answers and possibly years of research and statistics- data which we may not have since we’re still dealing with new technology here.


This is where we’re headed.



It is not the purpose of this article to place education and technology in such a negative light, but instead it should serve as a cautionary read and to incite thoughts for people who work with children as well as people who have children themselves.
There are always two sides to every coin and given a lack of expert opinion at this point in time, one could only seek balance.
Photo by Swaminathan

Consider the following table:

self-paced learning, flexible content
sensory strain or damage
eyesight, hearing, children more vulnerable
children tend to focus with much more intensity, especially children with special needs
social life
obsession and addiction, not picking up social skills?
to close digital gap
developer computing and knowledge of internet
congnitive development
over-reliance on technology could mean less thinking and less use of memory


Whether this balance is to be implemented by the institution, the parent, the technology provider or even by governance- the tools must be readily available.
Tools that we speak of are most likely going to be parental control-type features.

For example:


Apple OSX 10.4
parental controls have been available in one form or another since 10.3 and is now very mature in OSX 10.9


Microsoft Windows XP and up
provided by a free downloadable plugin called Windows Live Family Safety


Apple iOS (iPad, iPod touch, iPhone etc)
Parental controls began with iOS4.3 and now has tighter integration on iOS7.


Google Android devices, 4.3 and up
offering a relatively rudimentary solution compared to Apple’s iOS- called Restricted accounts


Microsoft Xbox gaming console
Family Settings, are comprehensive


fix-mounted displays and devices
to complement software-bassed content restrictions, mounted devices and displays could potentially set a hard distance between the child and the screen.


Do you agree with me?
If you have any comments, feel free to chime in.

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