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Too Many Computers Hurt Learning

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the time-spent-uninstalling-spyware dept.

Education 935

An anonymous reader writes "The Christian Science Monitor is running a story on a recent University of Munich study of school children in 31 countries that found a correlation between frequent computer usage and poor academic performance. Having more than one computer in the home was found to be particularly bad news! For those Slashdotters with children, how do you deal with your kids' computer use?"

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Hrmm (5, Interesting)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013165)

When I was eight, we had three computers... one in the family room, one in my sister's room, and one in my room. Of course, they were an Apple IIe clone, and Apple IIe, and an Apple II+, respectively. My sister was valedictorian. My grades sucked, but that's because I didn't do homework. :)

I don't think that multiple computers in a household are patently bad. I think that poor parental understanding and control of their children's using habits is to blame. The key is not too much computer usage, it's too much computer usage doing the wrong things. Half-Life 2 is not a learning experience. How Stuff Works [howstuffworks.com] can be.

Computer use in the school is still a fairly new tool. We aren't adept at producing good on-screen content for learning, yet. We still try to push everyone along at the same pace , where computer-based learning should preferably guarantee that a student meets the class requirements and has an opportunity to extend their knowledge beyond the "lowest common denominator" teachings.

Bottom line, computers are still too new to teachers and too unfamiliar to parents right now. Give it some time.

Re:Hrmm (5, Insightful)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013234)

Bottom line, computers are still too new to teachers and too unfamiliar to parents right now. Give it some time.

Might I also add that we need to discourage children from learning to read and write from the contents of chat rooms.

l337 5p34k c4n 0n1y hur7 gr4d3z.

Nature of computer usage changed. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013272)

Back the the Apple II/ IBM DOS area. When you used a computer you used 1 program at a time. You used a word processor you were usually in the word processor until you were done. If you were in Lotus 123 you were in Lotus 123 until you were done. Multitasking was near unheard of. So when you used you Word Perfect you were doing your work. Now with multitasking and windowing environment kids can now have there paper open while chatting with there friends. Playing some game in yahoo.com checking up there favorite pop star. Most kids don't naturally have a since of focus if they have the chance they will do other things that are more enjoyable then homework. They will do there work to avoid being yelled at by there parents/teachers but not for the point of learning the information, so with modern computers they can get the work done without learning the information because there mind is split on many tasks.

Re:Nature of computer usage changed. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013337)

correct English and correct spelling was also deficient in most schools

Re:Nature of computer usage changed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013358)

It's "their", dumbass.

Re:Hrmm (5, Insightful)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013301)

I think that poor parental understanding and control of their children's using habits is to blame. How about poor self control? I had to take counter strike of my computer so I get work done, but with two terms papers and to finals this week I have spent a lot more time on my computer looking at /. fark, and on my blog than studying. I think I have typed more in my blog than I have on my term papers, and here I am on slashdot, wasting more time.

Computers are great tools for learning, but they are also great tools for distraction.

Re:Hrmm (5, Insightful)

newrisejohn (517586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013345)

I second this. I have a graduate level research paper due Wednesday morning, and I'm neglecting finishing it in favor of posting to Slashdot. It's not just little kids that get distracted with computers. :)

Re:Hrmm (2, Insightful)

ssimontis (739660) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013315)

I use the computer, on average, 2+ every school day, and about 5+ hours whenever its the weekend, summer, a holdiday, or whatever, with few exceptions. My lowest grade is a 94. However, there is one thing that sets me apart from some of the others using computers and getting low grades: I don't slack off on AIM all day. That right there is it. I do use AIM, but not as much as some of the deadbeats at my scool. I use computers as a way of learning. I have already taught myself C++, I'm learning HTML, and many other things. If you use a computer for education more than you use it for entertainment, you might see an increase in grades.

Multitasking is harmful for Most kids. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013167)

The problem with kids with computers is that they are used both for entertainment and work at the same time. Writing a paper with IM on browsing the internet for sources and to keep tabs your favorite pop star. Sure kids with 24 access to computers they basically give themselves an information overload thus they split there educational learning. While children with more limited access to computers are more forced to get there work done and get off so Mom and Dad, brother and sister can use the computer so they just get the work done especially with a little brat ready to go to mom and Dad that you are using the computer for fun while she needs to use the computer to finish her homework also. It is worse then doing homework with the TV on because they are actively engaged in many activities. As a parent one should make sure the computer enhances ones life but doesn't replace it. When they have to do home work make sure they are doing homework and not on IM or doing an other things that the computer is good at.

Re:Multitasking is harmful for Most kids. (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013202)

I agree.
Normal computer use is like tv-zapping^2.
Take a textbook and read it, or take a sheet of paper to write something, you can concentrate and archive something.
Have your computer with the webbrowser open, then there will be icq popups, new email, winamp in the background, plus the quick game or cool website is only a second away from the boring "need to do" stuff, ready to be changed to at the first opportiunity.
I remember that when i was a kid, i did ZERO useful stuff with the computer, and only learn if i was forced to...

Re:Multitasking is harmful for Most kids. (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013324)

I have two hard finals tomorrow, and I'm online posting to slashdot.
I suppose I'd agree with your analysis ;)

Computers facilitate--not replace--learning (4, Insightful)

SIGALRM (784769) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013171)

It seems if you overuse computers and trade them for other [types of] teaching, it actually harms the student
Computer technology can help support learning, and that is especially useful in developing the higher-order skills of critical thinking, analysis, and scientific inquiry. But the mere presence of computers in the classroom does not ensure their effective use.

Re:Computers facilitate--not replace--learning (2, Interesting)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013205)

I bet if kids had to take computer science in elementary school than computers would be shown to be a benefit. However because most elementary scool learning is rote (the stuff a computer is good at) kids rely on the computer for their boring work instead of doing it. I wonder if we took a survey of adults 20 years from now how many of the succesful ones would have grown up with computers. Computers are a large part of our lives, and kids should be exposed to them early.

Re:Computers facilitate--not replace--learning (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013289)

Computers can help or hurt, it all depends on the teachers.
I worked in a public school with at least 3 computers per classroom. The only thing they were ever used for were for downloading games and music videos. Yes we had deepfreeze installed, so every day the kids would have to redownload the same crap over and over... and they didn't mind it at all because it gave them a break from their teacher.

Basically, if the teacher understands computers and can control what the kids do on them, they are useful, but if they just let the kids on and go grade stuff or something while the kids run free online, they are basically anti-learning tools.

Re:Computers facilitate--not replace--learning (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013380)

Computers can help or hurt, it all depends on the teachers.

More importantly, it depends on the Parents.

Re:Computers facilitate--not replace--learning (1)

morganjharvey (638479) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013297)

Computer technology can help support learning, and that is especially useful in developing the higher-order skills of critical thinking, analysis, and scientific inquiry.

Don't forget that having a computer can help your kid with any sort of computer science courses. It seems as if whenever things like this come out, they forget the group of kids, however small, that look at the computer with wonder as something that can be "taken apart" and explored. Yeah, if you let your kids sit on the web and IM their friends while downloading all the crap they can off of kazaa for 7 hours every day, nothing's going to get done. And what about those houses with a TV in every room where the kids are glued to the set? Or remember how video games used to be (still are?) the big evil against homework? What about rock and roll music in the 50s? I think I need to clarify that I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm merely extending your argument.

i'm one of three kids (0)

infonick (679715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013182)

and i'm the only one with a computer problem. maybe its because the other two have to share a rather old computer while i have my own powerstation.

Re:i'm one of three kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013282)

and the reason for your "powerstation" is for that extra 3 fps in conterstrike... yup figured

Seems logical (2, Insightful)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013183)

Computers make figuring out things too damn easy these days. Back in the day, you had to expend effort to learn things, now it's just googling 'thomas jefferson' or what not to do your reasearch paper.

Re:Seems logical (1)

teh_mykel (756567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013237)

this isnt entirely true. in a situation like this, who's fault is it that the mentioned student never does work and only googles for it? is it the student's, who has never been taught to actually 'write' their own papers? (instead, shown information and expected to come up with a document based on it.) teachers and even parents share the blame, if any, for the harms of computers.

Leverage your tools (5, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013250)

But isn't that a good thing. AS we progress humans should have to memorize less things and use our tools to do more. That is the trend in history after all. I don't think that we should cripple ourselves just because that is how things used to be done. Kids nowadays need to learn how to evaluate sources and find information more than they need to memorize it.

Re:Seems logical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013327)

Ok, well... yes many students do just 'google it' but isnt the real learning occur when the student comprehends and understands the material?

I look at it this way, it is a tool to find information fast, which gives you more time to analyse, understand, and search for more things pertaining to that subject.

Where the bottom lies is that, how the computer was percieved at the first sight of one. I didnt grow up with the internet. So I only used the word processor just to type, and frankly I didnt use the games that were there, or available in CD's or back then floppies (Shareware DOS). If one sees it as a source of pleasure, other then as a tool to make (for me handwriting and proof-reading) monontonus tasks easier so you can spend more time on the homework, etc,. one just uses the tool just as that. Much like IM is now.

Plus, many parents are beginning to believe that IM is bad and addictive, but then, how is IM different then the Phone was back in the 1980's?

Its still in the perception and use, all of these are tools just like the pen and paper, they can be used for good and bad.

Re:Seems logical (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013355)

Yes ... which means that the time has come to raise the bar on education. In essence, powerful data systems are substituting for rote memory to a certain degree. It's time we accept that, and stop wasting a lot of the child's limited time in school with memorization tasks, and start using that time to teach them how to think. Granted, it is important that a student be given a sufficient mental knowledge base in order to use the tools and techniques he is taught, but it is more important to teach a student how to learn, and why, than to stuff his head full facts that he'll never use. Real teaching, where a teacher doesn't just force students to do the minimum, but motivates them to do more, all on their own, is not as common as it should be. And that is because it requires skills, talents and motivation that not all instructors have. To this day, I remember the few teachers I had that managed to really interest me in something, to the point where I read everything the school provided and then went to the library for more. I learned what the school wanted me to learn, and more, because I wanted to. That didn't happen often, but it made all the difference.

Thank you, but no (2, Insightful)

Dr Tall (685787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013186)

I play about 4 hours of computer games a night (more on weekends of course), and I might very well be my high school's valedictorian next semester. I think those kids weren't playing enough computer games.

Re:Thank you, but no (2, Funny)

Mike Rubits (818811) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013224)

4 hours AND valedictorian?

Let me just express my disliking of you, says the 50th percentile :P

Re:Thank you, but no (0, Troll)

sH4RD (749216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013227)

Maybe everyone else is just dumber then you. Where I come from [tjhsst.edu] you would be hard pressed to do well with that much gaming late at night.

Re:Thank you, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013309)

TJHSST? Nothing more than a (very) poor man's Stuyvesant. You have no bragging rights, buddy.

Re:Thank you, but no (0, Flamebait)

sH4RD (749216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013353)

Eh, better SAT scores (proof [prepreview.com] ), and a real /. user account to back me up instead of an (anonymous) coward. I think I win.

Re:Thank you, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013342)

Yeah, but if he were at TJ, he wouldn't be valedictorian, unless something drastic has changed since I was there. Like class rank for one.

tj, '90.

Re:Thank you, but no (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013235)

You're also smart enough to get your schoolwork done quickly and still have time for that.

The problem pointed out here is when the rest of your classmates put in the same amount of gaming time as you do and their grades suffer for it.

Re:Thank you, but no (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013253)

Yeah, but you suck at Counterstrike.

Re:Thank you, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013270)

I think you either don't have enough extracurricular stuff going on, or your high school doesn't assign nearly enough work. Assuming eight hours of free time after school (3-11 p.m., on the odd assumption that one would want to get reasonable amount of sleep), four hours of gaming only leaves enough time for about three hours of homework or extracurricular activities (assuming it takes you about an hour to eat dinner, which may be an overestimate if you don't have to prepare or clean up yourself). Three hours isn't an insignificant amount of homework, but if your life consists of schoolwork and video games, you owe it to yourself to broaden your horizons.

Re:Thank you, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013300)

Potential valedictorian and still too dumb to understand that there are exceptions to every rule? Frightening.

Re:Thank you, but no (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013302)

and you've never had sex too! what a tripple whammy

Re:Thank you, but no (1)

c00kiemonster (682066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013318)

prob get top of your class , but you will prob get pissed of one day climb a clock tower and start shooting people. PC can be a great learning tool , but not at the expense of social skills ( 4 hrs + of HL2 does not give you social skills ) I also take issue with lack of development in fine motor skills lack of exerise , fitness , climbing trees's ect

Re:Thank you, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013348)


unless you are homeschooled, alone, ther eis no way in hell you can play that many video games and still be validectorian. the soon-to-be V at my school is taking 6 AP classes and spends every waking hour studying.

as for the study, i think it does have some truth. my grades suck, but thats only because i dont do homework. im a short-distance person, i dont have a lot of stamina. if we didnt have homework, i would be doing VERY well in school, because the material is easy. its just the stupid work-based point system thats hurting me. i simply cannot spend 11+ hours a day studying. so when i do get home, i get on the computer. but if i didnt, ill just watch tv or sleep or something. the computer is a just a scapegoat.

never too much computer use. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013189)

First post to a story about too much computer use.

CHILDREN! (-1, Redundant)

pretzelsofwar (770401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013197)

wait a second... /.ers have children?!?!

someone had to say it


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013319)

Nah, this is one of those "hypothetically speaking" instances. Of course slashdotters don't have kids because that would imply they were getting sex. Which isn't the case.

i work from home (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013199)

when i moved house and didn't have internet access for a couple of weeks i got a lot more done (no slashdot for one!)

sure the correlation isn't between those with internet access and those without?

It's a multi-use system. (2, Insightful)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013203)

Stolen from some comedian: "The same machine that teaches my kids the alphabet also brings me porn."

"Computer use" does not really describe the activity with any amount of precision.

Me (2, Interesting)

evilmuffins (631482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013206)

Funny, I have not one, but 3 computers in my room, and some how I've managed to keep around a 3.5 in highschool for the last 2 years.

Re:Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013287)

Sorry man, but high school level of teaching does not require much attention. Try to keep your 3.5 in third of University (and try going into something like Math or Physics :P

yes! (1)

Neotrantor (597070) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013209)

I wrote a paper on this during my junior year of college. One of the psycology proffs told me this would take 25+ years of following a person around... So if someone has the hosting for me to post the paper on a slashdot thread and is interested please email d.w.mead at gmail dot com

Makes some sense (4, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013214)


Let's be honest. How many of us sit down to "just check e-mail" and find that nearly an hour has passed without really doing anything productive?

If usage goes up but productive usage doesn't go up, then time is wasted.

Yeah....it's a known dissease called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013271)


Re:Makes some sense (1)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013357)

I sat down two hours ago to just check email, and now here I am posting to /. I still haven't gotten around to checking email. I think I just wasted two hours.

Obvious Correlation (1, Interesting)

eeg3 (785382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013215)

Just look at the performance of the average student in math without a calculator. People just don't know how to do the math, and don't feel the need anymore.

Computers have become a crutch and a hindrance rather than a tool. Pretty sad.

Re:Obvious Correlation (1)

Morphix84 (797143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013320)

Maybe, but look at the kind of math that gets taught in schools now. Maybe back in the day students were flexing their brains with the crazy arithmetic skill they had, but you probably weren't doing 40 terms of a Fourier series either. Just because we're slower to multiply 3 digit numbers in our head than students of yesteryear doesn't mean we're crippled.

Re:Obvious Correlation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013338)

What you mean is adding numbers, not math. If we are talking serious math, no calculator can help you in any way.

Well, yea... (4, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013216)

Learning and multitasking have never mixed well.

Multitasking also doesnt mix well with research, creativity, or anything really worth doing well for that matter.

Re:Well, yea... (1)

teh_mykel (756567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013264)

then is it really multitasking? really, the human brain's multitasking abilities are pathetic. we need more Linux-powered brain multitasking research..

Computer's fault? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013220)

I wonder how much of that "frequent computer use" is spent on entertainment instead of educational software?

For instance, I used computers a lot when I was younger, but it was playing around with Logo and Basic on an Apple 2. I turned out to be a pretty good student.

Re:Computer's fault? (2, Insightful)

dgagley (468178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013296)

Part of the learning problem is interaction with other LIVE PEOPLE. There also has been a case where hadwriting suffers along with spelling. I have an eight year old and a four year old and the teachers do like to use computers but when it comes to math and language they are told to do it by hand. It is the early years where the computer can hinder some of the ineraction and learning.

My kids only have learning software on the computer and it does help. The entertainment comes from the PS2 and XBox which they can use on a limited basis.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013230)

I am currently studying the mating habits of the opposite sex here


Unsupported Conclusions (4, Insightful)

xercist (161422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013233)

How exactly do you get from "found a correlation between frequent computer usage and poor academic performance" to "Too Many Computers Hurt Learning"?

Sounds more like a case of parental apathy (4, Insightful)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013240)

It's like TV. If you let your kids watch TV all night rather than doing their homework or studying, they're going to do very poorly in school even if they've been watching PBS or The Learning Channel. More TVs makes it easier for them to go unmonitored and unchecked. In the same sense, if you don't monitor how much your kids use the net, you're going to have academic problems. And, much like having more than one TV, multiple computers means that kids can more easily spend all night surfing the web and talking to their friends (especially if they've got a box in their room). In both cases, parents who take an interest in their kids' activities will have less of a problem.

Speaking Of That (4, Insightful)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013242)

The kid who spends his time reading "Monster Truck Mash-azine" does poorer than the kid who reads "Scientific American". Therefore, magazines are bad for all children.

simple (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013246)

Time for schoolwork
time for outside play
time for computer, or TV

They must do their school work or no play or computer. They must spend time outside or with other kids, eg sport. or no computer time.
when everthing else is done they can use the computer as much as they like. Dont fall into the 'I need a computer for school' and then not check it use, they will screw you if they can!

I'm not surprised (1)

blisspix (463180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013255)

I do not believe that one needs to use a computer for school until you are in high school. It is a waste of time for teachers to have computers in classrooms before this time. It is only taking away from other, more critical skills like reading which have been on a downward spiral in recent years.

I think I benefited from an era when computers were simpler. I had an Amstrad at home. I could use a word processor that wasn't much more complex than a typewriter, play Brick and other very basic games. Drawing was similar to MS Paint. Kids these days are overwhelmed by extremely complex tools and so spend way too much time even learning the basics.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

quizteamer (758717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013333)

Although I agree that kids should have to learn how to do important things, like written papers and math, without a computer, computers should be introduced before high school. But instead of using it to do papers or math, kids should be taught BASIC or some other simple programing language. Learning simple logic early in life will help them out later on.

Kids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013261)

You must be mistaking me for someone who has a life :)

Mod troll -99 funny +1

Dear Parents (1)

Letter (634816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013262)

Dear Parents,

I caught my daughter surfing on "The Hun's Yellow Pages" for bisexual porn, so I stopped her computer usage cold. I just popped some of the pins off the CPU. All that talk about the "younger generation" being more computer-savvy is BS.


Well (1)

theblacksun (523754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013265)

I hope they're not just giving kids a computer and telling them to go learn this topic or that topic. You need focused software to focus their minds if you expect satisfactory educational results.

An as aside, has anyone ever seen educational software packages? I've seen the kind they show education majors at the top education college in the state; It is absolutely aweful. The interfaces are so poor they make you wince.

maybe the conclusion is flawed (4, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013266)

is the correlation based on grade performance (article doesnt seem to say)? being just out of high school, i noticed that geeky computer guys are super-smart, but get bad grades cuz they just dont give a **** about menial tasks like homework (maybe a realization that most menial tasks would be better done by a computer). also, intelligent teenagers who spend much time on computers tend to care little about the superficial aspects of things, such as formatting and making cardboard displays really pretty, which are both a major part of doing well in high school.

i note some objectivity here (if not much) as i was not one of the geeky computer guys (i am now).

To close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013267)

Crap, I just got grounded from my computers (beowolf cluster too) for getting a 70 on my science test. Might I add that I take my science via an online classroom (one of the many good things that come from home schooling)

I guess the ability to do all my school in front of a broadband connection doesn't help anything...

Oh Parents (1)

Morphix84 (797143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013269)

*sighs* Oh Parents. He's an idea. Stop worrying about the evils of Television and Computers et. al. Stop Lobbying the FCC to censor all broadcast media. Do some parenting. Sign your kids up for swimming lessons or something, expose them to a variety of things so they can learn what they enjoy, but if they get their work done, if computers are what they enjoy, regardless of what they're using them for. LET THEM USE THE BLOODY COMPUTER.

XBOX + HALO2 + INTERNET = FAIL (2, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013274)

I am attending college right now, I can definately tell you that XBOX + HALO2 + INTERNET = FAIL. The same can be said for EverQuest or EverQuest2 (aka EverCrack) on a PC. Computers are really, really bad for people with addictive personalities. Sorry, I write a longer comment, but my Guild needs me in battle........ :)

It's too bad that computer games can't be more educational.

I install Slackware... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013275)

...and when they ask "how does this work?", I mumble 'RTFM' under my breath as I walk away.

Come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013288)

"Christian Science" No wonder they are postign this crap. Religion and science do nto belong in the same room.

The TV (2, Interesting)

Hardwyred (71704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013291)

I have a feeling that in those households the computer was looked at much like the TV. A plugin babysitter that keeps junior quiet and out of the way. When used in that manner, yeah the computer can have some negative impacts on your kid. People seem to have forgotten that children need to be stimulated and challenged. TV and the internet can be great tools but can also be pretty mind numbing. My wife and I are about to have our first kid and have been talking about these type of things at length and we both feel very strongly that it is our job to make sure that our son is engaged in things that he finds entertaining but that have more value to them then simply "at least he's quiet". That means we have to actually spend time with our son, in fact, we have to take an interest in his daily life (gasp)! It always shocks me how many parents in our neighborhood either don't know where their kids are and what they are doing or prefer to just sit them down in front of some gizmo instead of getting involved in what they are doing. But hey, we haven't actually had our kid yet, so of course right now I have all the answers and know exactly how it's all gonna work out. Check back in around 10 years.

Interesting... (1)

cartzworth (709639) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013293)

...I have 8 computers in my house and my sister and myself were both in the top 10% of our high school classes of ~800 students.

Now you know... (1)

lathama (639499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013298)

And knowing is half the battle...

Computer ownership and use are the issue here. I have had access to computers most of my life and have found the external forces pushed me into the IT industry. Constructive challenges from peers and physical injury are the foundations of my knowledge.

As far as grades or learning ablity I have found that the size and type of a childs village is the only factor. It takes a village to raise a child and some parents outsource that as well.

eh (1)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013304)

It all depends on what you use the computers for. If you let your kids play videogames everyday, sure their minds aren't going to be challenged and they will get worse grades.

Its not the computer that is evil, its what parents let their kids do with them.

Frankly I don't find this study worthwhile at all. Of course a study done by educators is going to tell you to stay away from computers. People fear what they don't understand and frankly 95% of the educators out there have no clue when it comes to computers.

heh, why do you think the Mac is so popular at schools? (j/k mac people, don't hurt me)

I'm a kid :) (1)

Batory (817735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013330)

Well i'm 17, and to be honest. 80% of all my friends who use computers daily for either games, linux, etc, get distracted really quickly from our work. I think what it comes down to is the individual. If he's the type of person who really wants to get straight A's in school, he's not gonna waste his time beating half-life2, he's gonna do his paper for tomorrow. Just on a personal note, when I sit down to do homework next to my computer, well.....i'm not going to be doing homework anytime soon. And, it's because, as stated before, why would an immature kid do homework when he can bust out the music and read up on some slashdot!

I agree. (5, Insightful)

blueforce (192332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013331)

I'm a code monkey and a moderately smart.

Things I used to know by heart I've purged from my mind (mostly unintentionally) over the years. Although, I did purge my computer architecture class - MUXes, flip-flops, etc. on purpose. ugh.

Partly because I don't use that knowledge as much and partly because it's WAY too easy to jump on *.google.com and look something up. Heck, in a lot of cases, just typing a query and pounding the enter key is enough. I can usually find that nugget of information or trivia fact I'm looking for in the short description that shows up on the results screen without ever having to follow any links. Google dumbs me down.

I've turned to reading more books to combat the problem. I try to read a variety of topics that interest me such as physics, math, biology, and economics and even fiction novels too. I find that the variety of information and learning new things helps keep me "fresh" and sharp in spite of google and kcalc.

I think it's way too easy to open up a calculator, spreadsheet, web browser, [insert app here] to do things one should be able to do, or at least know how to do, by hand.

problem=education (2, Interesting)

pha777 (764875) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013336)

The problem is not on computers, the problem is on the methods that are used in education. Today we have access to information that we did not have before, nevertheless the study methods continue being the same.

It seems to me... (1)

kjones692 (805101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013341)

... that this article is going two different places at once. One part of the problem is stated here:

[i] "And while students seemed to benefit from limited use of computers at school, those who used them several times per week at school saw their academic performance decline significantly as well.[/i]

And another part is here:
[i]From a sample of 175,000 15-year-old students in 31 countries, researchers at the University of Munich announced in November that performance in math and reading had suffered significantly among students who have more than one computer at home.[/i]

Really, these are two separate issues. How to use computers appropriately in the classroom seems to be quickly becoming an issue of much debate, and it's important that teachers do not use computers as a substitute for real teaching.

However, the correlation between poorer grades and more computer use at home is really an issue for parents to resolve with their own children.

computers today are just different (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013344)

before, when we were kids, computers were a tool. My first real experience with a computer was a 286 and my first "real" experience was with an AppleII and I learned how to do a bit of programming on there. Sure there were rudeamentary games, but you had to use your head.

Nowdays, you just get a computer to do two things. Play games and learn, or just play games. I wonder which ones that they have choosen for this survey?

hmmm (1)

fastduke (694682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013349)

Well my son is almost 5 years old now and he has a computer in his room. He plays educational games and such. Normally I will show him once how to start one of his games and then it's up to him after that. He normally does very well and finds the proper CD and runs the game (ie Reader Rabbit). Once in awhile he'll run into computer related problem and asks for help but otherwise he does pretty good. I see this as a very good reason for him to have a computer at 5 years of age. I wouldn't know how it will be in 10 years but I imagine I will supervise his activity just as I do now with TV.

Incomplete Study? (5, Insightful)

DarkBlackFox (643814) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013351)

I didn't see mentioned anywhere in the article what types of software these kids were running. If they spend all their time playing "educational" software (by which I mean those counting programs/nick jr. type games which serve more to keep the kids out of parents hair than teach the kids anything useful)in place of learning from a teacher, of course grades will decline. All a computer can do is teach a kid basic functions related to specific areas of study. It can't answer questions or provide more insight into "why" rather than "how."

The flip side would be what they actually get to do on the computer. If the parents limit them to games and programs they set up for the kids, that's almost as bad as spoonfeeding an 8 year old. The technically oriented/geek parents (or, were I one, this is what I would do), make a ghost/dd/carbon copy/backup of your hard drive, and let the kid loose for a few hours to do whatever he wants. If you're a true geek, the kid would have his/her own dedicated computer to play with, to let him find his own way around. Show the kid how to use the mouse, and how to click. Teach them the basics of how to use the computer, and let them learn their own way. That's how I was brought up, and I'm more capable of using/building/working on/maintaining computers than 99.9999% of all the people I know. Plop me in front of a foreign interface I've never seen before and I'll figure out the basics of how to use it within a few minutes (or if in another language, hours).

Computers can be extremely powerful tools for learning, but only if used in proper context. Parents who use the computer as an electronic baby-sitter will find their kid's grades slumping, while a kid who figures out the basics of the bash shell by the age of 5 could probably graduate high school at the age of 10. Give kids the tools to foster deductive reasoning, and they'll blossom into students with an insatiable appetite to learn and figure stuff out.

Correlation != Causation (4, Insightful)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013356)

There have been numerous reports released in Australia recently on how literacy and numeracy standards have been slipping in recent years. There was even an article [smh.com.au] yesterday commenting on how illeteracy is now being 'diagnosed' as ADHD, with children being taken to emergency rooms for treatment when what they really need is to be taught how to read.

The computer is simply a tool, it has no moral value, if the children are taught how to use it effectively as an educational aid, and are taught to value learning, the unfettered access to a computer will be beneficial. IF the children are taught to treat education as something to be endured and that computers are toys - then that is how they will treat them.

More of my own proplem (1)

TooTechForYou (816044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013360)

I don't know how many times I've been sitting in one of my classes (other than my CS classes of course ;-)) and instead of paying attention in class I was using the school's wi-fi to surf the web.

"Learning" != "Academic performance" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013362)

I don't think we should discount the possibility that the education system is so utterly fscked that these students are getting poor grades precisely because they've learned how to think.

how do you deal with your kids' computer use? (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013364)

If I find my kid trying to snort a computer or worse, mainline one its military school.

damn I must be really stoopid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013365)

I actually do have a Beowulf cluster (of P-III's). Since I'm a student and I work in a lab around these machines...

It's just time management (1)

Fiz Ocelot (642698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013366)

Most kids and I'd say a large amount of adults are not very good at time management. I mean, here I am posting on Slashdot when I really need to finish some work ;)

So as far as school performance goes, parents really need to promote good time management and take an active role in how much time their kid spends on entertainment and education. The same thing applies to employee internet access, etc etc.

The problem goes far beyond computers.

Coputers teach new methods.... (2, Interesting)

kyleday (645021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013367)

Did they account that the teaching methods in schools as well as the curriculum they teach are still based on 19th century standards? Why do they still teach cursive writing? I was always told that it was necessary to learn for classes in high school and college, though not a single class even accepted anything less than typed work. I never once, not once used cursive. Schools are still based in curriculum that has little to nothing based upon the new educational topics that computers offer (computer science, typing, conversing skills, hand-eye coordination, hands-on hardware and software experience, etc....) I doubt this report takes into account the beneficial and educational leaps that computers offer, instead I bet it focuses on why children won't write in cursive....if you get my point

I wasn't affected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11013372)

I grew up with 4+ computers and I graduated Top 10.

This is just an excuse.

OS dependant (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11013373)

The article mentions computers like it's a uniform thing. I will bet anything if you segment the result by OS you will find a much different result.

(I am not implying causality just differences in make up of students)

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