The enthusiastic and uncritical promotion of technology in the classroom is beginning to attract increasingly hostility among researchers and professionals in the psychological community.
One of those trying to draw attention to the harm that can be caused by the prevalence of screens in our schools is Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, Clinical Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University’s Health Sciences Center and author of the book Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids—and How to Break the Trance.
Writing in Time Magazine, Kardaras points to the extent to which technology pervades the modern classroom:
In almost every classroom in America today, you will find some type of screen—smartboards, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones. From inner-city schools to those in rural and remote towns, we have accepted tech in the classroom as a necessary and beneficial evolution in education.
Kardaras calls the screen revolution in schools a “$60 billion hoax.”
Tech in the classroom not only leads to worse educational outcomes for kids, … it can also clinically hurt them. I’ve worked with over a thousand teens in the past 15 years and have observed that students who have been raised on a high-tech diet not only appear to struggle more with attention and focus, but also seem to suffer from an adolescent malaise that appears to be a direct byproduct of their digital immersion. Indeed, over two hundred peer-reviewed studies point to screen time correlating to increased ADHD, screen addiction, increased aggression, depression, anxiety and even psychosis.
Kardaras attributes the popularity of educational technology, not to any demonstrated benefits for students, but to the amount of money those who design and sell it stand to make. And the argument many of those making what the author calls a “cash grab” make is that students no longer have the attention span required for traditional education. Kardaras responds that technology is the cause of this problem, not its cure.
It creates a vicious and addictive ADHD cycle: The more a child is stimulated, the more that child needs to keep getting stimulated in order to hold their attention.
The author quotes Dr. Kentaro Toyama, associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, who was initially encouraged about the effects of technology in schools.
Rather than finding a digital educational cure, he came to understand what he calls technology’s “Law of Amplification”: technology could help education where it’s already doing well, but it does little for mediocre educational systems. Worse, in dysfunctional schools, it “can cause outright harm.” He added: “Unfortunately, there is no technological fix…more technology only magnifies socioeconomic disparities, and the only way to avoid that is non-technological.”
The rest of the article surveys the disturbing recent research on educational technology. Read it here.