Are We Teaching Kids To Be Too Dependent on Technology?

Are We Teaching Kids To Be Too Dependent on Technology?Edudemic writer Jeff Dunn recently wrote an article about a technology bus that is making headlines at a middle school in Mississippi.

This bus, sponsored by the tech-ed company Promethean, is a vehicle filled with products that enrich the classroom through the latest technology tools, gadgets, and software. While it may be a smart marketing tool for tech companies, is technology bulldozing its way into the classroom?

Traditional Schools Are Way Behind to Begin With

Technological advancements move at lightning speed, with the average device losing its edge over a new and better device after about two years. Businesses and private companies are keeping up, but classrooms are notoriously lagging behind. How many schools still use traditional textbooks? In a world with an explosive e-book market, and offices and hospitals that have gone paperless, why are schools still investing in expensive and resource-heavy curriculum materials?

It may appear that schools are being barraged with new technologies, but where have they been in the last decade? The problem is that institutions that rely on public funding find it much harder to get approval for advancements that may seem to some, a luxury. The mindset that technology is a “fluffy” extra is still pervasive in the older generation of taxpayers who got by without touching a computer.

However, the majority of jobs in the current market require at the very least, a basic understanding of the computer, the Internet, and how to navigate software like Microsoft Word. Like it or not, technology is embedded into the fabric of modern society. Schools do their students a disservice if they do not expose the kids to technology in the classroom.

Technology Does Not Nullify Critical Thinking

Oftentimes, technology gets a bad reputation for giving students shortcuts so they don’t have to think. Let’s look at a math curriculum for example. If a teacher brings in the latest math gadgets and software, will students forget how to do computation longhand (or in their head)? No.

Teachers aren’t replacing lessons with computers that do the thinking for the students. They use the technology to help reinforce the concepts that are being taught. Technology used correctly will not make students lazy, but rather help them master the concepts that are necessary in order to do mental or longhand math.

They are not meant to replace the thinking involved.

But What Happens if Technology is Taken Away?

This is the biggest fear to technology integration in the classroom. Once it’s there, will everything fall apart if it is taken away? The first problem with this fear is that the likelihood of technology disappearing from society is very small.

Nothing short of some traumatic or explosive global human tragedy would wipe the computer and the Web from the planet. In that case, survival would be the focus anyhow. Aside from that, how does even a temporary glitch in technology result in poor learning?

  • If e-books are taken out of the classroom, will children no longer know how to read in a traditional text? Of course not!
  • If the digital math flash cards on a tablet are unavailable, are students going to be baffled at how to use traditional worksheets and flash cards?
  • If the computer breaks, will children not know how to write with a pencil?

These questions may sound silly, but when a person realizes that technology in the classroom is meant to enrich and reinforce skills, rather than replace them, the fear of overdependence starts to dissipate.

Jobs Use Technology

Students who want to be doctors and surgeons will work with computers and robots to perform surgeries. Pilots learn on flight simulators. Bankers use computers all day long. Writers type. HVAC technicians access customer’s units remotely through computers. Even those in who want to go into construction, plumbing, or other trades, will need to know how to set up a website, interact with clients through email and social media, and advertise digitally.

With every new advancement and invention in the last 100 years, there has been resistance. At one point, people feared the radio’s negative influence on culture. Today, this fear would be considered silly and irrational. It is important to look back at history to understand how to deal effectively with advancement in the present.

The technology bus may be a marketing tool for tech-ed companies, but it is also a way for educators to test out new tools that can enhance the classroom.  The question is not- are kids becoming too dependent on technology.

The question should be- why is it taking so long for institutions to catch up?

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Julie DeNeenJulie DeNeen has her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Haven. She spent several years implementing new technologies to help students and teachers in the classroom. She also taught workshops to teachers about the importance of digital student management software, designed to keep students, parents, and teachers connected to the learning process. @jdeneen4 and Google+.

Julie DeNeen




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No Comments

  1. Harley DeFord on April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I’ like to comment on your topic. My school is being reinforced with technology and I find it very difficul to keep up. And I don’t much care for havin to watch videos to learn, I personally think it’s hookey-pookey and pure laziness. I gave up in my math class because my math teacher is very lazy and wouldn’t give me any help, even asking repeatedly didn’t work. I’m against havin technology more in the class room for that reason.

    • Andrew on January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Harley
      Its sad to hear your story but it doesn’t sound like technology is the problem – teachers burnt out delivering irrelevant and uninteresting content need to be re-inspired to develop new & interesting learning methods & experiences using the new tools available to them. I think an important thing in this article is that whatever is done in the learning space must be relevant to the students’ future needs and society’s needs

  2. Anna on November 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I think that we are becoming too dependent on technology. When people think of the way technology has altered schools, they rarely think of the impact it has on homework. But this impact is very significant; especially for students who come from lower income families, and families with multiple children of similar age. Poorer families may only have one or two computers. These computers are often old, and the internet service is often slow. Wealthy families, on the other hand, often have one laptop per student, and one desktop. As a result, poor students have to spend much longer doing homework than wealthy or middle class students. This discourages them from taking advanced classes (which, in addition to having more homework, also have more online homework), and causes them to get worse grades. Teachers are often unaware of these problems. I certainly would be, if I was not friends with a first generation Somali American whose parents are in the working class. For most of her life, her family only had one computer, and no high-speed internet. To make matters worse, she had a sister who was only a year younger, and they had to compete for computer time. She is extremely bright, and has always taken very advanced classes, particularly in math and science. She often said that she would like to take advanced language arts, because she liked reading, but knew that she could never finish the essays on time. Language arts is one of the hardest subjects to do if you have less access to technology, because it takes so much longer to write it by hand, that you have to use the computer. However, technology is being used in subjects were it does not even save time, or contribute to understanding. For example, when we were taking AP chemistry, all our homework was on Web assign. It was literally the same thing as the problems we would have had from a book. The teacher liked it because it saved him time grading. But it took my friend much longer than if it had been on paper. Often she would pull all-nighters to finish homework–sometimes the day before a test. She survived on her sheer brilliance in the subject.

    • Andrew on January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Much more work must be done to re-invent a relevant learning environment that supports the student and to prepare them for the future. The whole intent for education should be around this. Other society’s are investing more heavily to ensure every student has the necessary tools. Also, some schools are flipping the learning experience so that technology requirements are managed where the resources are. As well, our libraries need to be re-invented to suit the needs of the learner (& for the under-valued teacher).

  3. hi doods on March 27, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I agree.

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