Stop staring at screens

A lot of schools – and preschools – love to tout their technology to the parents of prospective students. Sometimes it can become an arms race:

“Oak Tree Early Learning Center has a computer lab for our 3-5 year olds!”

“Williams School for the Gifted and Beautiful has 2 iPads for every kid!”

I’ve never been a believer. I’m not a Luddite, but I think very young kids should learn by doing before they learn by staring. Keep them away from computers until the 5th grade or so. Especially with smartphones, tablets and computers readily available outside their school hours, it becomes more important that they be able to unplug while in class, and get their hands dirty.

Here’s a great article from the Washington Post about why having kids stare at screens is bad, and how tools can overtake the brain.

My favorite passage:

A study released in September by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at school tech initiatives in more than three dozen countries (although not the United States) and found that while students who use computers moderately show modest gains over those who rarely do, heavy technology use has a negative impact. “Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics,” the report concluded.

We have also known for years — at least since the 2012 report “Facing the Screen Dilemma” from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood — that screen time for younger children in particular comes with a huge opportunity cost, depriving them of hands-on learning, time outdoors and “face-to-face interactions with caring adults.” Digital-savvy parents in Silicon Valley made news way back in 2011 for enrolling their children in steadfastlyscreen-free schools. They knew that their kids would be swiping and clicking soon enough, but there are only a limited number of childhood years when it’s not only really fun to build with Legos, it’s also really good for you.

 

Looking forward to Forecastle

The Forecastle Festival just announced some of the 2016 lineup. I’m in heaven already.

forecastle