According to a large-scale international study involving more than 70 countries, “no noticeable improvement” in reading, mathematics, science, or digital skills was found in educational systems that “invested heavily in information and communications technology.” In fact, the students who used computers the most frequently got the worst results.
Reading these findings reminded me of 3 essential and practical principles:
- BALANCE: Knowing how important balance is to healthy brain development and peak performance in every domain, it is not surprising to learn that excessive use of technology, or use to the extreme, impairs success. No matter what field of inquiry I look into, a common thread runs through the findings that point to healthy living: Rest for the brain is as important as working it; sensory breaks with little to no input, especially verbal, are as vital as sensory stimulation (just ask Bill Gates!); recovery for the muscles is as important as exercising them; and, playtime is as essential to learning as covering content.
- MODERATION: There is good news for those of us who see that technology is endemic in society today, and that there really is no way to turn back the adoption of technology in the classroom. That good news comes from one particular result cited in the study: When used in moderation (“once or twice a week”), students have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who used the computer rarely. The use of computers in schools has some benefit when used well and in the right dosage.
- COMMON SENSE: The problem with common sense is that it isn’t common! These principles aren’t new; they’re just not used! If schools won’t heed studies such as the one reported here (from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), PLEASE, let us continue to exercise OUR power to govern our own growing children’s experience. For example, I balance my son’s use of technology by supporting him in every way I can to spend time in nature, to play with his hot wheels and Legos, to play the piano, take an acting class, and join the family for technology-free, conversational dinner at the table. What a concept! A little old-fashioned, I know, but doesn’t common sense tell us how critical this is to the developing brain and all of its functions?
If you want to know more about how to minimize the risks of technology, click here for one of my previous blogs on the subject. It offers a tip that changed my life.
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