Putting Education Reform To The Test

The Downside Of A High-Tech Classroom

J. Paxson Reyes / Flickr

In the near future, classroom textbooks could be stored on a Kindle.

As Florida works its way toward the digital transition in classrooms by 2015, a publication is questioning whether the potential health hazards are worth it.

Dumping textbooks for technology won’t be a problem for most students, who’ve grown up with cell phones and iPods.

Some adults, however, are having trouble with the change.

Three organizations have published a paper titled Facing The Screen Dilemma.

These parent and teacher groups say kids have their faces buried in video games too much as it is. They are particularly concerned about the youngest students.

They point to surveys from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Common Sense Media. Both highlight concerns that constant use of digital technology hampers attention span and the ability to complete difficult tasks.

The groups also say excessive screen time is linked to childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, and poor school performance.

The organizations behind the paper are the Alliance for Childhood, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE).

“Early childhood educators face increasing pressure to incorporate screens into their classrooms,” CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn said.  “It’s crucial to separate the hype from what research tells us young children really need.”

Affan Basalamah/flickr

Facing the Screen Dilemma recommends screen-free settings for children under two years old in all early childhood programs. The guide encourages parents to learn how children’s exposure to screen time at home can affect their performance and behavior in daycare and at school.

Another organization, ProCon.org, takes a balanced approach on its Tablets vs. Textbooks website. The group takes on both sides, delving into the pros and cons of using tablets in the classroom.

Among the pros:

  • Tablets can hold hundreds of textbooks on one device, plus homework, quizzes, and other files.
  • E-textbooks on tablets cost on average 50-60% less than print textbooks.
  • Tablets help to improve student achievement on standardized tests.
  • E-textbooks can be updated instantly to get new editions or information.

Among the cons:

  • Handheld technological devices including tablets are associated with a range of health problems.
  • People who read print text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read digital text.
  • Print textbooks cannot crash, freeze, or get hacked.
  • Tablets are more susceptible to theft than print textbooks.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »