How computers make our kids stupid


Oops! Not everyone agrees computers increase student learning! … the evidence is mounting that our obsessive use of information technology is dumbing us down, adults as well as kids.

Ah, I wonder if computers dumb us down, (seems like someone took a little journalistic license with that phrase) or have the standards raised and students don’t meet new standards involving information technologies?

As reported in the news article, University of Munich economists Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann analyzed the results of the OECD’s PISA international standardized tests of 174,000 15-year-olds in reading, 97,000 each in math and science from 31 countries (including Canada). Once household income and the wealth of a school’s resources are taken out of the equation, teens with the greatest access to computers and the Internet at home and school earn the lowest test scores.

Computers in the classroom have no discernible positive effect on children’s educational performance while computers at home could actually be detrimental, the scientists conclude.

The optimal use of a computer and Internet at school, Fuchs and Woessmann suggest, is pretty low, somewhere between “a few times a year” and “several times a month.”

I think these interpretations of the data make sense on the surface. Computers, like cars, calculators, pencils, papers, the boiling thunderstorm, etc. can distract from standardized academic study. They can contribute to lazy thinking and remembering some school things. But do computers (or cars, etc.) cause lower test scores or correlate with them?

I better read original study reports, rather than pontificate based on a news account and one professional paper.