Technology in Schools

Prospective parents often ask how ICS exposes kids to technology. We offer a counter-intuitive answer:  “Not much.” Our experience is that the impact of most educational technology is oversold.

This weekend I read a provocative essay by a local mom, who notes there is little evidence that technology in the classroom aids poor kids, whose disadvantage is often used to justify large spending plans.

Talk of a ‘digital divide’, she says, is misleading:

The real digital divide in this country is not between children who have access to the internet and those who don’t. It’s between children whose parents know that they have to restrict screen time and those whose parents have been sold a bill of goods by schools and politicians that more screens are a key to success. 

At school, both for ICS kids and my own, I see time and attention spans sliced into ever smaller bits; kids who struggle to find the deeper meaning in written words and conversation. In 1984 George Orwell predicted the government would use constant noise to prevent citizens from thinking. The irony is we have done it to ourselves.

We are not Luddites. Our partners at Amplify are looking at a range of ways in which we can use technology to better assess kids’ comprehension. But as you see the picture to the left, the adult is talking to the child, not simply hooking him up to a screen. As we see impact we are willing to invest more. But poorly conceived school-wide or district-wide programs rarely succeed.

Another area of interest for technology is in programming and engineering-like activities. The Family Organization is partnering with the League of Young Inventors on one such program.

Additional screen time leads to increased attention deficit disorder and other academic issues, according to the essay I cited above.

In general, families can best support their kids by putting down the computers and phones, and talking. Or reading a book together. Set limits (for yourself too!) and stick to them. It is not easy, but the impact is high and the investment will pay dividends for both your child and our society.