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The good and the bad sides of technology

We embrace the benefits of using iPads during class, integrating tweets during presentations, and teaching students while using smart TVs. We know the many benefits of incorporating technology while teaching, such as adding diversity to lessons, increasing student interaction, and to bringing new perspectives and knowledge to the class.

But there can be a negative side resulting from inappropriate or overuse of technology, and that negative side can have serious and long-term consequences. To make the best out of tools of technology, teachers and parents must also recognize their downsides and how to avoid them. Image from Flickr via Yvette Keohuloa Negative 1: An article in Psychology Today says that the use of technology can alter the actual wiring of the brain.

More than a third of children under the age of two use mobile media. For example, the article says that while video games may condition the brain to pay attention to multiple stimuli, they can lead to distraction and decreased memory. Children who always use search engines may become very good at finding information—but not very good at remembering it. In addition, the article said, children who use too much technology may not have enough opportunities to use their imagination or to read and think deeply about the material.

A study on two groups of sixth graders found that kids who had no access to electronic devices for five days were better at picking up on emotions and nonverbal cues of photos of faces than the group that used their devices during that time. The increased face-to-face interaction that the test group had made students more sensitive to nuances in expression. A report from the United Kingdom revealed that kids who use computer games and their home Internet for more than four hours do not have the same sense of wellbeing as those who used that technology for less than an hour.

Technology: The Good and the Bad

One expert explained that with less physical contact, children might have difficulty developing social skills and emotional reactions. Children who use technology may unwittingly share information that can put them in danger. And the anonymity of technology can also make it easier for people to bully others the good and the bad sides of technology.

A quarter of teenagers say they have been bullied either by text or on the Internet. Pediatricians also say that severe obesity is increasing among young people. Although one traditional focus is on the amount and type of foods kids eat, one study says that obesity is on the rise, not just because of food, but because as we use more technology, we exercise less. With technology that includes cars, television, computers and mobile devices, the amount of time we spend sedentary increased and our time in physical activity dropped.

Teachers and parents who want their students and children to experience the benefits of technology—without the negatives—should consider these ideas.

Monitor the use of technology. Many classroom computers have restrictions on which sites can be used. For parents, some mobile phone plans offer family-friendly options that let parents restrict calls or texts during parent-established times. Instead, talk with students about establishing their Internet footprint, and the long-range consequences of putting inappropriate information into cyberspace.

Encourage students to discuss tricky situations they may encounter online and help them work to a positive resolution. Be familiar with technology.

  • One expert explained that with less physical contact, children might have difficulty developing social skills and emotional reactions;
  • One expert explained that with less physical contact, children might have difficulty developing social skills and emotional reactions;
  • And the anonymity of technology can also make it easier for people to bully others online.

Keep up with what those young people are into. Vine, Snapchat, or whatever the current online trend is, stay current so you can recognize and head off any problems early on.

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Use classroom technology intentionally. Be sure to use these tools to augment—not substitute for—your teaching. Offer alternatives to technology. Give students an assignment that requires reading a hard copy of a material.

Task them with interviewing each other—in person—instead of texting questions.

Negative #1: Technology Changes the Way Children Think

Conduct class outside where you can sit and discuss a topic without the usual distractions. In Short Technology makes our lives easier. But with each advantage comes a potential cost.

  • For parents, some mobile phone plans offer family-friendly options that let parents restrict calls or texts during parent-established times;
  • A report from the United Kingdom revealed that kids who use computer games and their home Internet for more than four hours do not have the same sense of wellbeing as those who used that technology for less than an hour.

When we understand those costs and can minimize them, we can keep the use of technology positive. This piece was originally written by Alice Martin and ran on May 30, 2013.