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The Detrimental Effects of Extensive Computer use in Education on the Development of Children.

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Introduction

´╗┐The Detrimental Effects of Extensive Computer use in Education on the Development of Children. The aim of this paper is to prove that the extensive implementation of computers in pre-high school education is having a detrimental effect on the development of children. To clarify my aim the following definitions are offered. Computer is defined as ?An automatic electronic device that rapidly performs complex mathematical and logical operations using information and instructions it receives, processes and stores (Scribner, 1986:206).? Pre-high school education is defined as any formal learning that is ?attended before high school education, usually comprising grades one through eight (Scribner, 1986:456).? Development is defined as ?the changes over time in structure, thought, or behaviour of a person as a result of both biological and environmental influences (Craig, Kermis and Digdon, 2001:528).? The definition of children is ?developmental stages of boys or girls from birth until adolescence, or approximately 15 years of age (Craig, Kermis and Digdon, 2001:49]).? Having defined the main concepts of the aim, the supporting arguments for the aim will be presented next. The first argument I present to support my aim is that computer technology is ecological. Secondly, I argue that a computer is a tool, and to be effective it is necessary children understand what it is and how it works. Thirdly, I argue that computers work with an extremely restricted class of children?s thoughts. The fourth argument presented to support my aim is, that computers are used in education in a way that is detrimental to children?s development. Finally, and most importantly, I argue that holistic development in children is not compatible with computer use. To begin, the first argument advanced here is that all technologies are ecological (Postman, 1988:147). That is, their introduction sends ripples of change throughout the entire social system and through it, the individuals that comprise the system. Many of these changes are indirect. ...read more.

Middle

In addition to the preceding argument, it is advanced that, how computers are used in education is detrimental to children?s development. The various uses of computers in education may be classified into three broad categories. One form of using computers in educating children is ?programmed instruction? introduced conceptually by B.F. Skinner in the early 1950s (Skinner, 1986). The computer presents a subject, often using sound and animation ?unconditioned stimulus?. After this phase (sometimes in the midst of it), questions are posed to the student, and the answers lead to other topics of investigation or the repetition of previous ones that were not properly ?conditioned?. This is a classic example of conditioning. In programmed instruction, the computer forces the same type of thinking as in any other application, because the commands given by the students also constitute a formal language, and the computer reacts always according to a rigid mathematical formula, based on nothing more personal than the students? previous responses. Learning is here reduced to memorization and the capacity for solving problems directly related to the covered material; the program cannot take into account the level of maturity, creativity, and intuitive abilities of different users (Bower, 1988). Another form of computer use in education is simulating experiments. Instead of observing and doing something real, either in a laboratory or in the field, students explore simulations on the computer screen. C.A. Bowers (1988) pointed out a number of cultural problems created by trying to reduce problem solving to mere data analysis. One aspect of this tendency is that the simulation, which is based on sophisticated mathematical models hidden from the user's view, gives the illusion of conforming to the real world, when in actuality it only conforms to the very limited contingencies anticipated by the programmer. It fosters a mechanical view of nature just as a political simulation fosters a mechanical, rational view of social relationships, also available to manipulation and control (Bower, 1988 and Talbot, 1995). ...read more.

Conclusion

Just as a child's physical development is stunted when muscles are not exercised, the development of disciplined thinking is stunted when the computer relieves the child of the responsibility for planning and organizing his/her thoughts before expressing them. It should be kept in mind that tools designed to aid the mature mind may hinder the maturation of the developing mind. Thirdly, I supported my aim by arguing that computers work with an extremely restricted class of children?s thoughts. It was demonstrated that early computer use and an emphasis on computer like thinking, is leading children's development to be dominated by the rigid, logical, algorithmic thinking, that is characteristic of computer interaction. This accelerated, but isolated intellectual development, brings a child's mental abilities to an adult level long before they have grown strong enough to restrain it and give it humane direction. The fourth argument presented to support my aim was, that how computers are used in education is detrimental to children?s development. Children need time for active, physical play; hands-on lessons of all kinds, especially in the arts; and direct experience of the natural world. The prevalent emphasis on technology is diverting us from the urgent social and liberal educational needs of children. A proper education requires attention to students from good teachers and active parents. It requires commitment to developmentally appropriate education and attention to the full range of children's needs; physical, emotional, and social, as well as cognitive. Finally and most importantly I demonstrated that developmental stages in children are not compatible with computer use. Combining Steiner, Bloom and Krathwohl developmental concepts with the fact that computers are mathematical tools, forcing a purely abstract and mathematical type of thinking as well as use of symbolic formal language. Applying these concepts and properties of computers to proper educational goals we may surmise that they are unsuitable for extensive use by children in any form before approximately age 15, or high school. Convincing arguments have been presented to prove the extensive implementation of computers in pre-high school education is having a detrimental effect on the development of children. ...read more.

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