Computers and Education: How Much is Too Much?

Let me start by saying that my kids are very tech savvy. I'm not saying that's something to be proud of necessarily, just a fact. The world that my husband and I happen to live in means that my children have been exposed to all manner of computers and computer-based products from an early age.

But as tech-y (some might even say geeky) people go, we have set limits that seem strict by comparison to many of our friends. Our children do not have their own computer: we do not even have a "family" computer. My husband and I have laptops and smart phones but those are very clearly "ours" - no kid use allowed without an adult.

I'm thrilled that there are computers at school for my children to use. I love that they associate computers more with communication and academics than games.

But how much of a good thing is too much?

I find myself wondering this because of homework. Last week, my daughter was worried about completing her homework assignment which had to be done on the computer. It turns out that it wasn't mandatory, so crisis averted. But even so, I've noticed an increasing dependency on the computer for both in school and out of school assignments, and that bothers me.

In school, the computer can't be a substitute for real, personal instruction. And out of school, there's something inherently a little disconcerting about 5 year olds begging for computer time instead of outside time.

Of course, there's also the bigger question: what about those kids who don't have computers? Philadelphia, unlike Lower Merion, can't possibly buy laptops for all of its students (and perhaps, thankfully so). And even if there are funds for laptops, what about internet access (many of the assignments are internet-based)?

But those questions are kind of overkill, aren't they? Because the School District shouldn't be rushing out to make arrangements for laptops when there are libraries without books. And classrooms without teachers. We have, I think, bigger fish to fry.

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