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«University of Rhode Island DigitalCommons Senior Honors Projects Honors Program at the University of Rhode Island 5-2011 Determining the Effects ...»

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University of Rhode Island


Senior Honors Projects Honors Program at the University of Rhode Island


Determining the Effects of Technology on


Kristina E. Hatch


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Recommended Citation

Hatch, Kristina E., "Determining the Effects of Technology on Children" (2011). Senior Honors Projects. Paper 260.

http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/srhonorsprog/260 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Honors Program at the University of Rhode Island at DigitalCommons@URI. It has been accepted for inclusion in Senior Honors Projects by an authorized administrator of DigitalCommons@URI. For more information, please contact digitalcommons@etal.uri.edu.

Spring Determining the Effects of Technology on Children [Type the company address] Table of Contents Introduction

Pros: The Positive Side for Technology and Children

Updating the Classroom

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Widening Social Circles

Increasing Visual Reasoning

Using technology to get Physical

Keeping Track of Children

Cons: The Negative Side for Technology and Children

Loss of Privacy

Lessened Ability to Multitask

Health Related Issues

Changing Social Norms

Survey Results: Speaking with People of All Ages

Recommendations: Where can we go from here?

Appendix A

Appendix B

Special Thanks


Introduction Technology has become an integral part of the majority of Americans’ daily lives.

We get all different types of our news through various websites and digital newspapers.

We pay bills, manage our love lives, send and receive mail, and find information all on the Internet. More than 500 million people communicate and keep in touch with friends through social networking. According to the semi-annual US wireless industry survey, 91% of Americans are mobile subscribers who, all together use 6.1 billion minutes of talk time a day. Our new technologically driven lives are thanks to the constantly developing and affordable technology available in the United States.

Author of Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers, describes our new technology driven world as a giant room, in which everyone is standing within reach of their neighbors. In this room, people are constantly poking one another and then asking them questions, or telling them about their days. In this world, it becomes impossible to escape the constant connection with others, aside from completely disconnecting from it, and leaping out into the unknown, or what’s outside the room. He stated, “…we live in a world where everyone is connected to everyone else all the time. We’re not literally in a room that’s floated away from the Earth, but we’re definitely in a new place, and it’s technology that has brought us here.” As we become increasingly more reliant and absorbed in technology, it is no surprise that today’s children have become avid users as well. Laptops are being developed for children as young as five. Smart phones are now in the hands of children as young as ten. The Kaiser Family Foundation found in their 2010 survey on Media use in 8-18 year olds that this group spends an average of ten hours and forty-five minutes per day exposed to media. Even after multitasking is taken into consideration, the total still stands high at seven hours and thirty-eight minutes, more than an hour above the 2004 total.

As children continue to become more immersed in media, many adults have begun to wonder whether or not this exposure to such a high amount of electronic media is a good thing or not. On the pro side, there is an argument that technology is preparing children for the ‘real world’ that they will have to enter into. Sixty percent of jobs in the market are technology related, and children need the tech advantage to be successful in such an environment (US Department of Education). On the other hand, however, others argue that children using technology are becoming socially stunted, ungrateful, and ridden with health related issues.

So what is the right answer? Which side has the correct insight? While we may not have the immediate answer, we must look into both sides of the argument and determine what the correct path for today’s children is. Technology has opened up a world of great opportunities, but these opportunities have come with great risks.

According to Sherry Turkle, a PhD at Massachusettes Institute of Technology, naming technology as either good or bad will not solve the issue. “I’ve tried to get across that computers are not good or bad – they’re powerful… I think we’re getting ourselves in a lot of trouble thinking there’s an Internet or a web that has an impact on children” (Amercian Physchological Association). In order to fully understand the argument surrounding technology and children, we must understand the pros and the cons, and how our decisions about technology use will affect today’s children as they develop.

Pros: The Positive Side of Technology for Children Updating the Classroom There have been several studies on the positive educational impact that technology has on students as young as kindergarteners. In 1999, Cheryl Lemke, executive director of the Milken Exchange on Education technology, conducted an interview with Technology and Learning Magazine to outline specifically why technology in the classroom is truly a benefit for students (cosmopolisschool.com). In her interview, Lemke outlines these four

distinct reasons as:

Technology accelerates and enriches basic skills. Students who have access to technology become more quickly engrossed in the material, and as such are able to absorb the information more quickly. Electronic material can be more stimulating and interactive for children.

Technology is incredibly motivational since it provides ease to students. In a study conducted by David Dwyer, vice president of advanced learning technology for Computer Curriculum Corporation, students were found to produce more writing because it was easier to type than write, which kept them more interested.

Technology facilitates new fields through simulations and three-dimensional models that would not have been accessible beforehand.

Technology prepares students for the workforce at a young age, which is becoming more and more of a vital skill as technology in our society becomes more relevant. According to the US Department of Commerce, sixty percent of jobs today require technological skills, and this is expected to increase to ninety percent

–  –  –

The U.S. Department of Education has also released their own information on educational technology that mirrors Lemke’s opinions and ideas. The point that echoes between both of these sources is that we are living in modern times with more options available to children, and educational models that would not have been accessible beforehand must be modernized to keep up. It cannot be expected for children to learn the same way as previous generations if they are expected to stay ahead in this fast paced world (U.S. Department of Education).

While putting technology in early education may seem alarming, it is shown that the presence of technology for kids has several benefits. Along with the preparation for the work force, technology allows children to learn in a whole new way. Children can view animations of the solar system, look at three-dimensional models of the human body, and learn through interactive games. Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Children and Media, Cornelia Brunner, has been an active participant in projects that bring educational technology to children. In project Ready to Learn, for example, Ms Brunner worked to develop educational videos and curricula for children between the ages of two and eight (Center for Children and Technology). She found that children used the technology well and seemed to work with it naturally. “They have no way to compare it with anything. But we did find that they liked it a lot and that it didn’t stop them from being just as interested in playing with sand and water and dolls ad cars. So it provided them with another option and it did them no harm.” Children today can use technology as a supplement with traditional education, not as a replacement. The proper mix of these two elements can give children all the benefits of a modern education without requiring much training for children. When using modern technology, children pick it up at amazing speeds. A Cape Cod father of three said, “When my five year old daughter uses my computer, she doesn’t even need me to help her. She just figures it out on her own, and can quickly use it just as well as the next person. That’s not to say she suddenly understands all the content, but she knows how to make it function, and to navigate it. It’s as if technology is becoming innate to today’s children.” Assistive technology to help students with disabilities has also become vastly popular in the classroom. Assistive technology’s purpose is to “augment abilities and bypass or compensate for a disability” (Lewis). Computers have been specifically useful, for they allow us to manipulate items such as text to meet the needs of individual students. For example, text can be made larger so it can be seen easier, and also read aloud for deaf students. More recently, specific devices have been engineered to cater to students with specific disabilities. DynaMyte, for instance, is a portable communication device that facilitates students with communicative disabilities to speak and converse with others through a keyboard composed of symbols. With these sorts of innovations, it has been estimated that approximately 95% of students with disabilities between the ages of six and eleven are able to receive their education in regular classrooms (ATTO).

Keeping Up with the Joneses The introduction of technology into modern culture has drastically shifted social norms to include the technology into children’s daily lives. Today, it is not uncommon to see children playing on their portable video game systems while at a restaurant with their family, or to see a child operating a computer better than some adults. While these trends seem appalling to some, according to author Lev Grossman, they are only the result of an evolving society, and might not be as much of a worry as we thought. While these norms seem outrageous now, within a few years, they will become commonplace (Time.com).

When writing his Time Magazine article calling Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year in 2010, he stated:

“People hated Facebook’s News Feed when it was introduced in 2006. They thought it was creepy and intrusive. Zuckerberg stood his ground, and now Facebook is unimaginable without it. He moved the chains, and we went with him, setting up our defense that much farther toward the end zone. “The world is changing,” Cox says. “When my caller ID came out, people went psycho. You know, because, Oh my God, now people are going to know I’m calling them!

This is terrible! I’m going to end up being tracked, and Big Brother and Orwell and all that! The reality is, now you won’t pick up a call unless you know who’s calling you.” Cornelia Brunner, has similar thoughts about today’s societal norms. “The adults in the part of Europe where I grew up were alarmed in exactly the same way about the horrible effect comic books were going to have on the impressionable minds of young people!!!

We were all going to turn into monsters because the comics made it seem as if you can do anything and survive anything (i.e., roadrunner falls off a cliff and survives). The arguments were exactly the same as the ones being used today when people (usually people who never play electronic games) carry on about how dangerous they are.” Technology will be part of our world for the rest of our foreseeable lives. Ms Brunner believes that children must become accustomed to technology because the digital world is here to stay, and will continue to offer its vast amount of benefits. The digital world “lets us communicate and share and compete and play and inform each other and plan together. All of that is good for everybody, including kids, within some boundaries. Just like there have to be rules of conduct in real life, there have to be smart rules of conduct in digital life.” The presence of this technology will force children to have the skills to navigate it and keep up with it as they get older. Electronic media is becoming more and more integrated into our workforce and our classrooms as technology advances and becomes more easily accessible.

In the workforce, technology is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury for many higher paying jobs. iPads have begun to be used in cockpits of planes (Bloomberg.com), and companies such as CBS and Radio Disney have stated that they are dependent upon technology to function successfully. This is becoming more common in more companies, so much so that in the twenty-first century, sixty percent of jobs require technology skills, leaving children who don’t have such abilities working at lower paying jobs (U.S Department of Education). According to Global Knowledge, the top ten skills demanded in 2010 included network administration, cloud computing, database management and web development. In order to be successful with these skills, children can be introduced to them as young as elementary school (globalknowledge.com).

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