“There is a debate on whether technology is harming students attention. Do you think technology in the classroom will contribute to the deterioration of students attention OR help students attention for learning. (Please include outside sources to back up your point)”
This is a loaded question. My answer as a K/1 teacher will likely differ greatly from someone’s opinion if they teach high school. In my opinion, technology does not negatively affect my students’ attention because it is carefully monitored and controlled…by me. I choose the amount of time my students are exposed to technology and how much they use tech to enhance their education. Yes, students are able to choose tech devices to show their thinking and we do use movies and different apps to add to their learning experience in relevant content areas, but my students are not distracted by games and texting like older student might be. I try to fit in an appropriate amount of tech use while still giving my students plenty of time to learn by playing with hands on, real world materials.
In fact, I would go so far as to say my students’ attention is enhanced by technology. Their engagement in their work is extremely high when given the option to use technology vs. traditional tools such as pencil and paper. They are eager to show me their ability to manipulate the iPad to create posts for their blog or photograph their traditionally produced projects.
In a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center for the Pew Research Internet Project, there were many differing views expressed. Many respondents were noting a negative impact on student attention and critical thinking skills because of technology use, however, this comment resonated with me:
Many survey participants said always-on connectivity to global information is a double-edged sword. Dave Rogers, managing editor of Yahoo Kids, observed that there will be winners and losers as this technology evolves. “Certainly,” he noted, “there will be some teens and young adults who will suffer cognitive difficulties from unhealthy use of the internet, Web, social media, games, and mobile technology. These problems will arise not because of the technology but because of wholly inadequate adult guidance, training, and discipline over young people’s use of the technology. But most teens and young adults will prosper as described in the first option.”
If students in my class were to be given free reign over their technology, then my opinion would be very different. Children are not yet able to self-regulate their tech use, so they are drawn to use it for an inappropriate amount of time. Tech addiction is an issue that needs to be addressed, for sure. It is still extremely important for children to learn to use pencil, crayons, paper, scissors and other traditional tools to have a well-rounded education.
In Pshychology Today, Dr. Jim Taylor writes:
What does all this mean for raising your children? The bottom line is that too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology. (2012)
Is there a place for technology at school? Of course, but there is also a place for paint, paper, water, sand, dirt, mud, blocks, Lego and caterpillars. Technology should never be the main focus of attention in a kindergarten classroom, it should be a tool used just like a pencil or a piece of paper to demonstrate a student’s learning. Teachers must teach their students how to appropriately regulate their use of technology and in turn, hold their students to a high standard of learning that demonstrates that technology enhances what we have done in our classrooms all along.
Anderson, J. and Rainie, L. (2012, Feb. 29) Main findings: Teens, technology, and human potential in 2020
Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020/
Taylor, J. (2012, Dec. 4) How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus Are your children prepared to think and focus for success in 21st century life?
Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201212/how-technology-is-changing-the-way-children-think-and-focus