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Study: Computers Don't Help Kids
Associated Press

9:55 a.m. Sep. 12, 2000 PDT


Billions of dollars spent on school computers and Internet connections deliver little long-term benefit and could be better spent on more teachers and other improvements, a group critical of technology in the classroom said Tuesday.

"We've gone down this highway of bringing computers into elementary schools with so little debate, and spending such huge sums," said Joan Almon, a former Baltimore kindergarten teacher and head of the U.S. branch of Alliance for Childhood.


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"If we were spending so much money on other aspects of education with so little evidence of gain, we'd be ashamed of ourselves," she said.

A major Clinton administration goal has been eliminating the "digital divide" by bringing computers and Internet access into the nation's schools.

The alliance, an international partnership of educators, doctors, and psychologists based in College Park, Md., wants a "time-out" from policies that emphasize computers as an ideal educational tool for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school students.

Many experts say there is little direct evidence linking computer use and higher school achievement. A study performed in 1998 by the Educational Testing Service found that fourth- and eighth-graders scored 15 percent higher on math tests after using computers to play learning games, but derived no benefit using computers to practice basic skills.

The new report said that despite the limited research on the impact of computers on education, U.S. public schools have spent more than $27 billion on computers and related technology in the past five years.

That money, the report concludes, could be better spent on other educational priorities such as reducing class sizes, repairing schools, and eliminating lead poisoning.

The report warns that computers may account for a rise in health problems among children, including repetitive stress injuries, eye strain, and obesity.

Focusing too much on technology can also distract children from the social interaction they need to develop language skills and bonds with adults.

Copyright © 2000 Associated Press

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