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Education Technology

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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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:29PM (#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.
  • by SIGALRM ( 784769 ) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:29PM (#11013171) Journal
    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.
  • Seems logical (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:30PM (#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.
  • Thank you, but no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dr Tall ( 685787 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:31PM (#11013186) Journal
    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.
  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:32PM (#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.
  • Makes some sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:33PM (#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.
  • Well, yea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:33PM (#11013216) Homepage
    Learning and multitasking have never mixed well.

    Multitasking also doesnt mix well with research, creativity, or anything really worth doing well for that matter.
  • by xercist ( 161422 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:35PM (#11013233) Homepage
    How exactly do you get from "found a correlation between frequent computer usage and poor academic performance" to "Too Many Computers Hurt Learning"?
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:35PM (#11013234) Homepage
    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.
  • by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:36PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rie Beam ( 632299 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:36PM (#11013242) Journal
    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.
  • by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:37PM (#11013250) Homepage
    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.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:38PM (#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 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.
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:39PM (#11013274) Homepage
    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.
  • by dgagley ( 468178 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:40PM (#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.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:41PM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ssimontis ( 739660 ) < minus cat> on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:42PM (#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.
  • I agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueforce ( 192332 ) < minus city> on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:43PM (#11013331) Homepage Journal
    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 * 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.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by newrisejohn ( 517586 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:45PM (#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. :)
  • Incomplete Study? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkBlackFox ( 643814 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:45PM (#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.
  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:45PM (#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 [] 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.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:55PM (#11013449)
    ...that are certain to get worse with my girlfriend and her four year old daughter. The only applications available to the little girl are a couple of Reader Rabbit games, but rather severe tantrums occur when she is denied playing the games or asked to stop for the night. I was reminded of my own behavior, though on a slightly different scale when I was fifteen or so and Warcraft II, Quake, and Grand Theft Auto were what dominated my non-schoolwork hours. I flat out had behavioral problems, wanting to do nothing beyond playing the games, and throwing teenager level tantrums when I was denied such.

    Fortunately I was in marching band, jazz band, electric car club, and some other structured things for me to redirect myself to when my parents forced the issue and wouldn't let me use the family computer for games, but it definitely wasn't easy, and probably would have been even harder if I hadn't had other activities that I liked to turn to. Consequently I'm paying close attention to what happens in what I'm seeing now, because I know from experience what can happen if things get out of hand.

    The moral of my own story: Have something else to do besides computers. Read. Play sports. Play a musical instrument. Work with your hands on something, like cars, or woodworking, or jewelery. Find a passion to compete with the one operating at 1024x768. It's definitely a lot more healthy that way.
  • by rhakka ( 224319 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:57PM (#11013472)
    some people don't have to study to get good grades. I can count the number of times I did homework in K-12 on both hands. I wasn't valedictorian, but that was because on the classes that did have the "homework requirement", I just ate the 10% loss and got an 85 instead of a 95 because I couldn't be bothered to spend that much time doing shit I already knew.

    Still got a full scholarship for college too.

    Course, I never learned to do homework, so I flunked out my first year. So I would suggest doing homework just for the practice of self discipline to others, not necessarily for its educational value. Or if you aren't going to do homework, spend X amount of your free time learning SOMETHING instead of fucking off.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:58PM (#11013488) Homepage Journal
    "...use IM and chat room clients that check the grammar and spelling..."

    And which country's grammar and spelling would be determined the correct one? Take english for example. We have American english, Brittish english, Australian english and slashdot english.

    A joke perhaps: And American, English, and Australian connect to a spelling correcting chat room and nothing is said.

    Should I have mentioned that it was a lame joke.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bleckywelcky ( 518520 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:01PM (#11013505)
    Good point, computers aren't bad, but what you do with them isn't always good. This is why you can have 2 or 3 computers in your house (wife + 2 kids + server) but the key is you don't allow the kids to have any computers in their rooms. The same goes for gaming consoles, TVs, phones, etc. There's an easy check to see if someone has done a poor job of parenting (in 75% of the cases): see if one of their kids has a TV, phone, gaming console, or computer in their own room (extra points if they have more than one). These devices should be out in the open where the parents are mulling about so that their usage can be monitored. Perhaps in a den with the TV or in a side office by the kitchen, etc. And it should stay this way until they are 16 to 18 (depending on how responsible and mature they are) or even later if they're complete hooligans and still living at home. Sure, they can still use the public computer in the den, they just don't get the _privelege_ of a private computer. As well, I believe the first time you should have a TV in your own room is after you move out of your parent's house. (And no, I don't live in my parent's basement, heh).

    Now, having said that, I did have a computer and phone in my room before I turned 18. However, the phone was there because I helped with the family business on a daily basis (I made personal calls maybe once a month off of it). And, I was into computers before I was 10 ... messing with our old Ataris and Apples (although I did play games quite often ... wasting valuable time ... but I graduated high school in the top 10 out of a graduating class of over 350).

    In the end, all kids need is good parenting; not regulation by the government, not censorship by special interest groups, just good parenting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:01PM (#11013508)
    My God, what is the suicide rate in this country?
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ob0101011101 ( 590919 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:03PM (#11013524)
    But language is in a constant state of flux. Many words exist this year that were neither spoken nor heard last year.

    Variations in language are a hallmark of a rich culture. Your method of grammar policing would lead to a monochromatic society with no linguistc colour.

    (Hmmm... note the EN_AU spelling of coloUr, you banned that).
  • by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:04PM (#11013532)
    No computer games. Yup. None. ...
    The computer is used for schoolwork and research.

    It sounds like you are discouraging creative computer use? Why?

    What if your kid could be a great computer programmer? What if they wanted to create a video game?

    The right computer games encourage thinking.
  • by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:09PM (#11013586) Journal

    Some possible causalities here:

    1. Computer usage makes kids dumber / perform poorly.
    2. Kids who perform poorly for other reasons like to spend their time on the computer when good kids are doing homework.
    3. Bad parents like to put their kids infront of a computer to occupy them rather than make them do their homework.
    4. The type of families that have multiple computers (wealthy ones?) tend to be dysfunctional in ways that lead the kids to perform poorly.
    5. Of the countries surveyed, computer usage happens to be more prevalent in the countries who have more conservative governments, where the economy tends to be stronger but education is underfunded, thus causing the kids to perform more poorly.

    I could keep coming up with reasons all day. The article seems to assume #1 is the explanation, but the study provides no evidence to suggest that #1 is any more plausible than the others.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:0, Insightful)

    by n3tfury ( 774147 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:10PM (#11013597)
    Let's get our country to get back to speaking English first. Once companies stop conforming to the Spanish-only speaking "citizens", then we could implement your idea, because i think it's a good one.

    "Please press 1 for English"?? F*ck off.
  • by bdbolton ( 830677 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:18PM (#11013661) Journal
    can she get a score of 5 on /. ?
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoolGopher ( 142933 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:18PM (#11013663)
    Think about it. We could have an entire society where everyone speaks perfectly clear, grammatically precise day-to-day English (or whatever language you speak in your country)!
    And the language would never evolve.

    Or alternatively, the language would evolve in the direction set by certain Large Corporations. Enter doublespeak plus good.

    The language defines what we can think about, and how we think about those things. It is not a good thing to attempt to restrict it, since by doing so we are restricting people's thoughts.

    Having said that, I'll continue to make fun of anyone using 1337 5p33k.

  • by theblacksun ( 523754 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:19PM (#11013672) Journal
    ...are a thriving breed, amongst I count myself member. I know many an advanced degree student who put all sorts of assignments off. They expect it, honestly. This year the computer engineering senior projects final project specification requirements (40 pages) were handed out on monday and due that friday.

    I don't know why but for some reason I just can't work any other way but under the gun; without urgency I tend to just lose intrest. With literature on subjects I really want to learn about just a click away it becomes even more difficult.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:21PM (#11013684) Homepage
    Actually, when I was younger, I was on BBSes all of the time. I found that people would take me more seriously when I wrote better. Prior to that, I hated English and couldn't write worth anything -- I was all about math and science. Using the BBSes balanced me out nicely.

    Like anything else, it's all about how it's used... and perhaps even who is using it. That said, it's important to note that I am not a member of the masses... so how do the masses respond? How do they perceive computers, how they work and what they're for?
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:26PM (#11013717)
    IM is supposed to be similar to conversations, and if you have to type in proper english to be able to so something, then it would be much harder to use.

    For example:
    I will be right back.
    Which one looks easier to do? There is a speed up of over six times by using the abbreviation.

    And then there are other aspects, like when I'm trying to talk about technical stuff, or fix problems for someone.
    lachlan@, p/w abc
    Connect to using the username lachlan. The password is abc.

    There is a reason why we use things like this. Because they work. Language isn't meant to be a set of laws, it's supposed to be a way of conveying information. We need to start treating it that way.
  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:26PM (#11013718)
    Then shouldn't googling for it increase the time spent learning since you no longer have to manually go through books upon books to find what you were looking for? No retention of what you read is hardly googles fault, you would have forgotten what you read in a book as well.

    Computers are just objects they don't make someone fail courses, so don't blame it. You want someone to blame, blame the compete lack of parenting shown all too often, or blame the students lack of self control, this is just more people looking to lay blame elsewhere and say, "look its not my fault."
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:26PM (#11013725)
    What if they wanted to create a video game?

    1. Develop solid math skills
    2. Develop solid physics skills
    3. Profit!!!

  • by Schuler ( 821676 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:31PM (#11013760) Journal
    I think the use of broadband internet as well as multitasking and more importanly, lack of self control are the reasons for lack of learning. The fact that I can keep my AIM with the compulsive need to check it every five minutes, accompanied by winamp and firefox with infinite time wasting abilities, while I'm trying to write up my lab report is not a winning combination. If I was able to pull my ethernet cord out from my jack I can gurantee I would get much more work done and be able to focus on work. I'm sure many people can attest to this.
    As useful as the internet is for homework and research, parents should really limit internet usage or atleast allocate time for their kids away from the computer (or the TV) to set aside to do schoolwork. I always did my best work in high school when my cable modem was acting screwy or I was forced off the computer.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:33PM (#11013772)
    This is why you can have 2 or 3 computers in your house (wife + 2 kids + server)

    If you've started referring to your computers as "the wife and kids", then you really should lay off the /. for a while.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by leonids ( 102892 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:35PM (#11013791)
    Computer use in the school is still a fairly new tool. We aren't adept at producing good on-screen content for learning, yet.

    In fact, most school teachers aren't making a conscious effort to fully utilise computers for education in a proper manner. All kids get to dabble in are fanciful 'educational' programs, which IMO are just 99% spoonfeeding. A book will do many times better.

    Of course, we can't deny that interactivity of these educational programs can spice things up and raise interest. However it gives no credit to the potential of the computer/Internet! Once the kids reach home, they are back to IRC, IM, shoot-em alls. How many kids want to listen to a talking periodic table or mindlessly key in answers to 1+1 at home?

    I believe someone mentioned in a post further down: teach them more, teach them to really use the computer. Maybe learning the bash shell can be a bit nasty, but there are certainly limitless other things such googling for information, doing real research, programming, photo/video editing. In this age, these activities are not as outrageous for kids as we think.
  • I smell an agenda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inkswamp ( 233692 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:36PM (#11013796)
    These kinds of studies always strike me as tainted by some political or social agenda. They never seem to match up with reality.

    My daughter is 8-years-old. She has been using the computer (mostly for games) for several years. I used to sit with her and play the Jumpstart Toddler series with her when she was 2. Most of what she plays is educational, but I also let her play video games on the computer, including games on the GameCube, her GameBoy and our old N64.

    So, the verdict? She's consistently ahead in school, reading and math skills are 1-2 grades ahead. She has no weak areas, no areas of concern and no behavior issues; she has a creative mind and is a whiz at problem solving and her verbal skills are remarkable at times. I couldn't ask for better. Her teachers are always happy to have conferences with my wife and me, and they have always spent the half-hour praising her and quizzing us on what we're doing at home.

    I think it has less to do with the amount of time a child spends on the computer and more to do with what they're doing on it specifically. My daughter does educational stuff along with the occasional video games with no graphic violence. I also monitor what she does and help her get the most out of it. I just recently showed her the basics of how to create web pages and she's been coding her own pages by hand. No report anywhere will convince me that those kinds of activities are hurting her learning abilities.

    It's just like TV. You can do it right or wrong. I don't think you can blame the computer itself.

  • Fatal Overreach (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 3l1za ( 770108 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:37PM (#11013807)
    You totally had me on the casual nature of chat being part of chat. Abbreviations, flexibility, ... work for that medium.

    But your generalization to "Language isn't meant to be a set of laws" is not supported by your earlier arguments.

    The reason that language IS represented by a set of laws as if it weren't then there'd be no way to teach it in geographically disparate locations where folks may not be in contact with native speakers of that language. How can I learn Samoan if I live in SmallTown, KS? I need to refer to the laws of that language. No laws --> loss of structure --> lack of ability to communicate clearly and effectively. The laws are not there to be punitive; they are there to make the system work.
  • From blaming contraceptives for STDs and unplanned pregnancies, to straws for spitballs, to computers for distraction.

    Computers are a very powerful tool in such a way that they can be used for almost whatever you might desire. Is this not a good thing?

    If one desired distraction and could not find a computer, I'm sure said one would find a gaming console or a limping dog or a spot on the wall.

    Computers are a tool to allow people to explore whatever it is they want to explore. Can't blame computers for allowing peoples' bad habits to show through.

    Before computers, TV prevented me from doing my homework. Before TV, it was drawing and blankly staring out the window. Before windows, it was the faint light breaking through the ovum.

    I know what I'm doing when I want to do it. I just don't like homework. >.

    Now that I have slashdot... things are different.

    Or not.

    Back to homework now.

    - shazow
  • Having worked in the computer game industry I can safely say, "playing a bunch of computer games in no way prepares you for a job in creating games."

    You heard me right. Book learning is much more useful. Math and science are useful for doing technical stuff like optimizing the display and creating realistic physics. Other non-computer fields are useful, too. Sociology, geography, statistics, etc. The list goes on.

    Spending all your time playing computer games means you are only familiar with WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE.
  • by Coolnat2004 ( 830862 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:42PM (#11013843) Homepage
    I can agree with this, but if computers are their "thing", they should be allowed to tinker whenever their work is done, and all of the preceding priorities are met. If they get a learning experience from tinkering on the computer, then why not let them go at it?
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwerle ( 39371 ) <> on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:48PM (#11013878) Homepage Journal
    My idea (and I'm completely serious, I think this would work if it caught on!) is to get people to use IM and chat room clients that check the grammar and spelling of anything they type, and then refuse to transmit anything that's incorrect. People will over time develop impeccable linguistic skills!

    That's the lamest idea I've heard in a while. Computers are supposed to make things easier. Instead of failing

    OMW 2 store, then BRB

    the computer should expand it to be

    I'm on my way to the store, then I'll be right back.

    People don't (generally) type shortcuts because they don't know any better - they do it because it is faster and/or they're lazy (notice 3 contractions in that statement). Or they do it because they've learned it from chat rooms. If IRC servers (etc) expanded all these shortcuts, folks would learn correct forms by reading them - which is where they're learning the incorrect forms now.

    In short: positive reinforcement is better than negative.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meatspray ( 59961 ) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:55PM (#11013922) Homepage
    ERROR: Cannot send Instant Message(R). Last Message did not contain "So easy no wonder it's number one. I'm going to get a Coke."
  • by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:57PM (#11013943)
    and they are draconian, but tough.
    I hope your daughter doesn't go off the rails when she leaves home. When you grow up with that amount of regimentation a little freedom can be intoxicating.
  • Yes but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 3l1za ( 770108 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:18PM (#11014125)
    What do you mean by language evolving exactly?

    If you mean adding in new words (e.g. "blog"), then of course that's already built in and happens.

    If you mean changing the way that basic grammar rules work, I'd think that'd be a mistake.

    If you've read any Shakespeare (which I'm sure you have), you'd see that the English language has adapted since then (mostly in common word choice -- we see fewer of these: doth, 'tis, o'er, hath, etc.).

    But that leads us to one of the reasons that it's important that we don't change the structure too much: all of the English written works developed for the past 800 years or so are more or less accessible to those who know proper English. If we changed dramatically the structure, either newbies would have to learn BOTH structures OR those works would be less accessible to them than they are to people trained in standard English.

    It's no different than one router deciding that it wanted to do TCP a little bit differently; he can't do that. Not really anyway. Not if he's connected to all X other routers who understand the standard implementation of BGP, TCP, IP, ...
  • Age (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:25PM (#11014164)
    It seems very likely that at age 7 when children are still looking to their parents for nearly everything that such rules work I highly doubt that as she grows older and more aware of the world around her that your methodology will be as effective.

    More than likely she might rebel against your admittedly stern authority as she grows older. Also as she grows older and is exposed to more things she will realize that the lifestyle that she has been exposed to is radical different than others. At the very least she might begin to question why you chose to raise her in that fashion or more likely use it as a further excuse to rebel.

    I'm going to stop here with my little dime store analysis of what I see you doing but I hope you take some time to realize that your raising a human being, not something for you to try and pour into what you see as the perfect mold.
  • The funniest part (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Soulfader ( 527299 ) <`sig' `at' `'> on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:48PM (#11014333) Journal at the end.
    "There's this sort of bizarre belief that computers cast a spell over students and teachers and schools," says Christopher Dede, professor of learning technologies at the Harvard School of Education.
    "Can you imagine what would happen if you had the same in business, asking if computers were interfering with performance? It would be a big joke."
    Now is it a joke because it's funny, or a joke because it's true?
  • by dozek ( 525516 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:56PM (#11014383)

    As a freshman computer science major in a required writing class, I wrote an essay suggesting that premature introduction of computer technology could lead to severe developmental progress. One of my primary arguments was that the development of fine motor skills and handwriting was stumped when children are allowed to type and use the mouse rather than write, paint, etc.

    Further, (and granted, this was prior to the widespread advent of the WWW) the 'curiosity driven' learning experience is interrupted by the immediacy of technology provided information. Case in point, Online Encyclopedia vs. Book Encyclopedia. With one, I type in my topic and immediately receive a specific article. With the other, I have to learn how to look the topic up, and in that process am inevitably exposed to other topics which may catch my attention and allow me to learn a bit more.

    My suggestion at that time, and one I would probably stand by today, is that computer technology in the classroom should be delayed until the Junior High (7th or 8th grade) level. In America at least, we see quite an opposite trend, where children are exposed to technology at younger and younger ages.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Moocowsia ( 589092 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:56PM (#11014384)
    I'm not sure about you, but since I didn't really get into the computing world until about 98' I learned to type quickly on irc and forums. My grammar might not be perfect, but I doubt it's a result of leet speak.
  • by flynt ( 248848 ) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:57PM (#11014388)
    Well if it's true for your daughter, it must be true of the general population right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:08AM (#11014460)
    Indeed... the axiom of the "Minister's Daughter" tends to be all too true; I've known more than a few children of pastors, and they're most often the wildest of the bunch. Although to their credit, they also tend to be the least caught. Parents who provided a fair amount of freedom and let the kids take the full measure of responsibility and consequences for their actions seemed to wind up with the most balanced kids. Heck, my mom caught me taking a pack of gum from the grocery store when I was 5 - she not only turned me in to the manager for shoplifting and asked him to scare the shit out of me, but docked my allowance (a whopping $0.50 a week) until I had repaid the store 7 times the cost of the gum. The manager actually called the police in, listed the consequences, etc. Lessons like that tend to stick with you for awhile, and many times, they can only be learned the hard way.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fciron ( 619458 ) <(fciron) (at) (> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:09AM (#11014470)
    I was going to make a similiar point about the involvement of the user.

    My son has been using computers for ten years yet has no idea how to troubleshoot the slightest problem or how to design an efficient search. Kids learn to click on pretty pictures and cut and paste their home work together. The computer enables a sort of mental laziness.

    One can use a computer for hours a day and not learn anything about computers or the subjects one is supposedly working on.

    The reason multiple computers is a correlated to poor performance may be that it is an indication of unsupervised computer use. If there is only one computer it is probably in a public room not a bedroom.

    Another thought, the internet encourages academic sloppiness. My son did a paper on Curt Cobain and when I reviewed it the writing style was all wrong (it was boring.) So I checked his history to see his sources and I found three sites with an identical biography. None of these site gave a citation for the bio and my son had just cut it up for his paper. I sat his butt back down at the computer and emailed the URL's to his teacher.

    In Summary: GUI's make you lazy. Supervise the kids and use citations!!!
  • by bwy ( 726112 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:16AM (#11014510)
    AS we progress humans should have to memorize less things and use our tools to do more.

    Agreed. Whis is why I friggin HATE technical interviews. I have 7 years of experience coding Java, and some guy on the other side of the desk asks me how many methods the serializable interface has. That was an actual question. Maybe, just maybe, I've spent MORE time learning concepts and how to build effective applications that users actually need, and LESS time memorizing javadoc that is only a click away from any PC in the country. And you wonder why big IT departments are disfunctional. Because they hire 80K walking javadoc repositories to develop apps.
  • Re:Age (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:19AM (#11014537) Journal
    I completely agree with you on much of what you say. We have some rules that we keep a pretty tight lid on, and it allows us all to peacefully co-exist and spend time together as a family. (I'm typing this because she's having a bath right now, so it's "mommy time")

    In most other ways, we're very liberal parents who want her to explore things that interest her. It's very likely that once broadcast goes HD, we won't upgrade - we'll get a projector, and then the only thing she can watch will be stuff she rents or borrows from school, the library, or friends. And it'll look GREAT.

    But computer games are not something "we do", and frankly, she's shown very little interest in them. She'd truly rather use her imagination creating little worlds of her own, (today it was her orange froggy was going to marry Barbie, but the giant Clifford Dog came and mesed up the wedding, so the unicorns came and took them to the secret castle (aka her bedspread) so they could meet the Wonderful WItch played by another Barbie.

    Frankly, I think that's a much better use of her time than twiddling dials in someone else's imagined world, and we encourge her imagination and critical thinking skills.


  • by alcourt ( 198386 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:31AM (#11014610)
    Find me three pieces that would be playable by less than a college level performer that use a 5/4 time signature. Much more common would be 2/4 which is often used in music a child of that age might sing or perform. (After just helping my 7 year old prepare for a recital with a piece in a 2/4 time signature,...)

    As for the chores, those sound typical for any child of that age. But forget the fresh basil, get the fresh catnip instead. Use it as mint in your cooking and then rub the extra on whatever you want the cats to go crazy over. I find that getting good half sharp paprika (not that tasteless garbage you find in most grocers) is far more useful to me than basil.

    But why would you want a child to use that bastardized obsolete handwriting system called cursive? I haven't used it for more than my signature (which is rapidly becoming less of a cursive over the past two years) since fourth grade. It is very difficult to read by a human, never mind a computer, and is really not enough faster than print to justify the cost in reading it. If I want to prepare something quickly, I type it.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mlyle ( 148697 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:46AM (#11014738)
    As a student of English Literature (both capitalized, yes) I have to say that I disagree

    Errors have been found in your post. Your post will not be approved until they're corrected: ...facist...: word not found in dictionary

    would be useful for is people further from this sanskrit we're calling: awkward

    ...distinctions," I'm pointing out some facts which aren't likely to change any time soon whether we like them or not.: dangling participle detected

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dextroz ( 808012 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @01:03AM (#11014880)
    The ONLY English, is English FROM England. The rest are products of people's complacency.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GMC-jimmy ( 243376 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @01:56AM (#11015205) Homepage
    I'm a single father of a teen-age daughter. She's an Honor student and has been since elementary school.

    A couple of years ago one of my cousins had experienced some hard times so she asked if her son could live with me till she gets back on her feet again. He was failing the 4th grade when he arrived, he is now an Honor student too.

    I have 6 computers in this house. Each has their own machine. Learning doesn't come from any of these computers, infact they are a distraction. But they are also a reward for working hard.

    I don't think computers helped my kids education, but I don't think it hurts either.
    I volunteer to help them with homework everyday, if I felt like it or not. I encourage them to get work out of the way so they can enjoy their free time on their computers without worry or stress. I also manage their internet access, when the grades fail so does their net connection. :)
  • by Kelvie ( 822725 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @03:04AM (#11015502)
    Please do not mix them up. They studies found a correlation between them. By using a title such as ``Too Much Computers Hurts Learning'', it implies that too much computers cause a decrease in learning abilities. What they found was a correlation, not a causation. It is dangerous to misinterpret statistics.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @03:46AM (#11015659) Journal
    We're not learning "less" we're learning differently. By the reasons given we might as well go back to abacuses because even slide-rules are evil technology blah blah blah.

    Yes, you could blame the computers, but realistically I think a lot has to be said about the deterioration of the teaching system. I would know, I work in schools and see daily how bad they've gotten. Kids have no respect... yes they didn't have respect when I was in school (and hey, I'm 23), but now they're much more open about doing everything short of (and sometimes beyond) telling their profs to f*** off.
    br As for the profs, well, it's rather discouraging trying to teach kids that don't want to learn, somewhat like watching the coding project you babied for the last year get tanked by management in the final stages.

    But as to the kids that do want to learn, and make use of computers as a tool... they're going to do more than the previous generation did with a set of fancy calculators. Realistic simulations, architectural tools... computers expand in other areas.

    Of course, I suppose I could look at myself. Grandiose projects planned, but after a day of work I'm often sacked and just end up playing games to relax. If I had to sit through some of the classes that students do today, I'd probably do the same...
  • by hajons ( 771162 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @03:52AM (#11015692)
    Having two kids myself, both using their computers a lot, my main concern is not academic performance (in fact they are both top of their class despite playing counter-strike and other games for hours each day). I am a lot more worried about them not getting enough exercise, which in the long term will have fatal consequences. The discussion on parental control or kids self-control is uninteresting. What is interesting is making them interested in and getting an understanding of what is good for them. That takes a lot more than just telling them "You cant play any more today".
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grym ( 725290 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:03AM (#11015733)

    This is slashdot, that's pretty much a given.

    What's really sad is that Slashdot, a website supposedly for scientifically-minded people can't even understand the basic tenet of science that is "correlation does not equal causation".

    All the article said was that they found a correlation between multiple computers in the home and poor academic performance, but that doesn't imply, as the headline states "Too many computers Hurt Learning." It could just mean that spoiled kids with access to computers don't do well in school because they've had everything handed to them. But of course, that wouldn't be as sensational, now would it?


  • by ajna ( 151852 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:14AM (#11015764) Homepage Journal
    This is what happened to me, too, except substitute 6th grade for 8th, and 3 kids for your 5. Add in a summer course of geometry before 8th grade and I was done with Calc BC by 10th grade, at the tender age of 14. During middle and high school I did do the homework, however, although often in the 5 or 10 minutes before class began. This came to bite me in the butt my own freshman year in college, but I perservered, swallowed my pride, and actually began to work for the first time in my life.

    Now, a year out of college, I'm in med school. Here I'm surrounded by people who like what they're studying (I do as well), and studying a LOT is the norm. And, at this stage, it actually matters whether I know my stuff, so I put my nose to the grindstone and join in, no matter how much it hurts.

    I was quite the academic phenom at a young age (not just in math, I was a SET kid []), and this helped me in some ways: I never felt the need to compete in a vicious manner or belittle others' achievements since I'd already had the institutional pat on the back from a young age, so to speak. However, it also made me complacent, and this complacency almost was my failure.

    The moral of my rambling, self-congratulatory story? Not everyone who finds the pace and scope of traditional school easy ends up falling by the wayside. We all have to learn how to apply ourselves, and to grasp that being smart is simply not enough on its own. Growing up as a precocious youth one often feels that being gifted means that less effort should be expected of oneself, and that academics is a game in which the goal is to find the least amount of work that will appease the taskmasters. I encourage those who might feel this way to go to a competitive school, and learn from the positive example of their peers that the application of one's talents is as important as their mere existence.
  • by lahvak ( 69490 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:54AM (#11015904) Homepage Journal
    One of the well known high school computer labs (was it Lincoln-Sudbury?) had a rule "You can play any game as long as you wrote it yourself".

    I like that approach, but 7 years old is probably a little to early for that.

    Anyway, what's the fuss about the "no games" policy? She is 7! There is so much other stuff to do at that age, computer games are such a minor thing. (Of course you let her play Nethack, right?)

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:12AM (#11015970) Homepage
    I do know that this is /. and expecting that much from the editors is a stretch, but it still needs to be said: correlation is not causation.

    The actual study says they've found a correlation, the braindead /. editor writes (or accepts, whatever) a title which would indicate causation.

    Say it again boys and girls, real loud, maybe even the editors will hear it; Correlation is not causation.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sionnach ( 705915 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:55AM (#11017931)
    But syntax is important, and knowing when to use the correct syntax is VERY important: You wouldn't talk to the Queen the same way you talk to Snoop Dogg any more than you'd try to compile Assembly with gcc! Being able to communicate in the vernacular and adapting as it does is important, but simple things like tact and decorum dictate certain rules like kids don't swear in front of their parents and you don't yell at police officers, even though such behavior is acceptable in other social situations. Guess the word I'm looking for is protocol, but it does seem a bit starched for the conversation.
  • by Garse Janacek ( 554329 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:12AM (#11018212)
    Yes, and today you can easily buy DVDs to train you in any number of subjects, from languages to musical performance to cooking to history to carpentry to mathematics to...

    The TVs really let us down on that one.

    The fact that TV is not always educational doesn't mean that it can't enhance education, and the same is true for computers.

  • by Bapu ( 26118 ) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:20AM (#11018331)
    A revolution in teaching will be required before students begin to be taught what they really need to know. Virtually none of the teaching methods used outside of maths and hard sciences in the last century are applicable to the age of the Internet.
    Looking at this survey, the academic training done in the schools that the examined students attended is largely irrelevant to today's learners. The most relevant type of leaning revolves around learning to use the tools available to locate the information you need in the shortest period of time. In the past this naturally involved committing to memory large amounts of information since the human memory was the most reliable and quickest storage medium available.
    In the age of the Internet, the amount of information you can recall in a few seconds is not as important as how quickly you can recover information online. Memorizing the paths to information is more important than knowing the information itself. So the human memory is best used as an index not a repository.
    Until academia catches up with this idea, those who are most literate in the use of technology may display lower test scores when isolated from their online reference library. But when allowed to use the tools they have mastered to accomplish the same tasks, they will have higher test scores than those who rely only on memory for recall.
    This does not excuse us in the specific disciplines of math and the scientific method. Every student must learn math the hard way or be forever isolated from the most advanced fields of human knowledge. And most important of all is learning to reason properly.
    Every student must be able to form hypotheses, test, and discard unproven or unprovable ideas in favor of those that can be demonstrated to not be false.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351