By Stephen Chow
How many hours and minutes do teenagers spend in a day just using electronics or screens for entertainment? According to research done by Common Sense Media, lower-income teenagers spend an average of eight hours a day using these devices, while higher income peers spend about six hours.1 As technological advances are made, newer technology is being introduced into the classrooms. However, not all outcomes from having school systems integrate these new tools into their teaching methods are positive. Research done on student reading comprehension levels between print and digital text suggests that students who read the printed version of the text have a higher level of understanding than students who choose to read the text digitally. This suggests that integrating new technology in education systems may actually be more of a distraction for students and may negatively influence how they interact with society.
In Overland Park, Kansas, a group of parents were concerned that their children were spending too much time staring at screens instead of socializing and learning. The parents started a Kansas City-based program called Stand Together And Rethink Technology (STaRT) to spread awareness about the negative effects that digital screens can have on education and general child development. At first, the differences in socioeconomic status among the students worried parents because they feared that if the school implemented technology in their teaching method, then the more likely that well-off students could complete assignments that are supposed to be submitted online, while the less fortunate students would be unable to submit assignments because he or she cannot afford technological devices to access necessary tools like the internet. Some schools resolve this issue by implementing programs like Hillview Middle School’s 1:1 iPad program, which allows every student to obtain a school-loaned iPad. This program enables all students to have equal opportunity and access to educational sources; however, too much exposure to these electronics can lead to attention and behavioral issues.
Technology in today’s society has become extremely addictive. For instance, social media sources like Facebook and YouTube attract users by auto-playing videos that are related to what the user enjoys viewing. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat are designed to cultivate addiction by displaying the number of “likes” accrued on posts or allowing users to sustain usage “streaks” with their friends on the app. These addictive social media platforms that are enabled by electronic devices are what cause the distracting force that can impair the learning capabilities of students.1 Technology, in a sense, can take away one’s social reality and replace it with an alternate, virtual reality. Younger generations are more at risk of being socially inept because they are becoming more comfortable socializing in the virtual world than reality. With virtual communication, the formality of proper speaking and writing is lost. As more people lose this sense of formality in communicating with others, more people become socially inept. Parents are more concerned now than ever before because of how schools are integrating new technology into the school system.
Technology has impacted the way society performs. This is prominent in the education system. For example, at Kansas City’s Leawood Elementary School, first graders are using iPads at their class workstations.2 As schools update their education systems, newer technologies are taking the place of traditional pencil and paper. Some reasons for integrating technology into the school systems are to be more eco-friendly, to save the cost of paper and ink, and to provide students with more sources of learning material. Schools providing technology for all their students promote equality amongst the more privileged and the lesser privileged students. Not only does technology help cut the cost of purchasing materials like chalk or dry erase markers, but students may also be more engaged in their classes because technology allows teachers to be more creative in how they teach. Technology provides the education system with more opportunities to introduce students to different topics which can ultimately encourage them to further explore their interests. With the development of the internet, technology also grants students the option to further research an infinite amount of concepts. The internet is so vast that it is almost guaranteed that any questions can be answered with a search. However, despite all these helpful resources made available by technology, previously mentioned sources of distraction like social media and online gaming should still be considered when weighing the benefits of using new technologies in education.
Technology’s inevitable role in the education system is a fact that carries both positive and negative consequences for students’ social development. How technology is used and monitored is a key factor in deciding whether the technology is beneficial for the school. Using technology provides many benefits in the education system so that schools are able to become more eco-friendly, reduce supply costs, and provide students with equal learning opportunities. Another benefit from having technology in school systems is access to electronic textbooks with states beginning to require college textbooks to be made available in electronic form. For example, “In 2009, California passed a law requiring that all college textbooks be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring public schools to convert their textbooks to digital versions.”3 However, technology should be cautiously monitored because it can become addictive for younger generations. This addiction to screens may cause children to become socially inept because they can become more comfortable talking to people in virtual environments than in reality. In addition, technology is a distracting force which can impair a student’s quality of learning. Carefully monitoring how technology is used in school systems will provide a positive alternative to how students are able to learn as new innovations emerge in society.
- Bowles, Nellie. “The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Oct. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Feducation&action=click&contentCollection=education®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront
- Gannon, Rebecca. “Metro Parents STaRT-Ing Program to Address Kids’ Screen Time, Tech Use.” FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports, 4 Oct. 2018, fox4kc.com/2018/10/04/metro-parents-start-ing-program-to-address-kids-screen-time-tech-use/.
- Conversation, The. “A New Study Shows That Students Learn Way More Effectively from Print Textbooks than Screens.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 Oct. 2017, www.businessinsider.com/students-learning-education-print-textbooks-screens-study-2017-10.