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Too Many Computers Hurt Learning 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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Too Many Computers Hurt Learning

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  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by iocat ( 572367 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:23PM (#11014161) Homepage Journal
    Most people get basic sentence structure right. Where I see a horrid batch of grammar crimes in in suffixes and word agreements, especially for some reason in California (maybe because the high rate of immigration here means there are a lot of new or first generation English speakers).

    Signs like "Fish & Chip, $5" or "All player must register before going on ice" are so common here, it kind of makes me sick.

    Still, English has been moving since Old English from a tense and ending based grammar and towards a word order based grammar (think of how weird "yoda talk" seems, even when it isn't technically grammatically incorrect, and understand it just fine you can), so we may just be losing those agreements at the end of words, because the sentence structure dictates the meaning without them. It's still grating to me, but I bet none of the old fogeys in Shakespeare's time were down with the great vowel shift [].

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fortun L'Escrot ( 750434 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @01:01AM (#11014872)
    as a linguist i can tell you this. a computer can never teach a human being language. not unless such a computer as an exhaustive account of grammar. to produce such a database i guess is on par with mapping out the human genome. it is simply too difficult for a computer to follow the infinite variety of sentential constructions a human speaker can come up with.

    that said, i do not entirely disagree with your idea to use computers to help people focus their language skills. i just think it would require too much effort.

    computers are not a substitute for good parenting or a good education. they can be used to focus the process of teaching and learning, but in and of themselves make poor developmental tools (and this is just my guess as i am not a child psychologist).

    still computers can be a learning experience in and of themselves. a properly designed OS will always lead to greater insight about the inner workings of the so-called digital world. any one that grew up "playing" with a unix or unix-variant can attest to this. and i am pretty sure that if studies were done, it would show that those individuals tend to have a different view of gagdetry at large.

    still thoguh, like any good christian will tell you, values start with family and community, then school. obviously this study is not looking at the lack of support these children are getting from their family or community. just think about all those kids that use computers because they have no one else to interact and grow with (possibly because everyone else is busy or distracted).

    to recap. using computers to police language is a time-consuming endeavour that might solve a problem that might be easier solved with better parenting and maybe good tv or the age-old standard, a good book. but, have you noticed how many typos there are in books nowadays? yucky if you ask me.

    ps. i am an anti-grammar nazi.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:31AM (#11016040) Journal
    Correctly applied, computers can aid learning. I have absolutely no skill at all at operating a pen. It has the worst user interface ever designed. My grades in English were consistently Cs, with the occasional B. Once we were allowed to use computers to type essays, they shot to A or A* and stayed there (until I dropped English aged 16). I now get paid for a lot of what I write (with the exception of the stuff I post on /. which is pro bono, and makes far more use of parenthetical clauses than anything I'd expect to sell).

    CD-ROM encyclopaedias (when I was growing up) and more recently things like Wikipedia provide a valuable source of information - not as a substitute for books, but as an additional source. When computers are treated as a tool, they are a valuable aid. When they are treated as a toy, or as an end in themselves, they are a distraction (although sometimes an educational one).

    I suspect that a lot of the correlation between lower grades and access to multiple computers is a result of parents who treat a computer as a substitute for human interaction. Last century the same parents would have allowed children their own television and let them watch it all of the time. In both cases the parents are at fault, not the technology. Having children is a responsibility, one which it sounds as if you are quite rare in fulfilling.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman