Chromebooks in the Classroom? Educators Say Yes, Doctors Say No

In the first survey of its kind, teachers across the country are reporting that laptops, Chromebooks and tablets are the “most valuable tools for teaching and learning” in the classroom.

According to a survey of 1,300 K-12 teachers across the United States conducted by The Journal, a publication devoted to technology in education, 92% of teachers see laptops as either “essential” or “valuable” to the learning process. Chromebooks, Google’s laptop-meets-tablet hybrid, are seen as either essential or valuable by 80% of those surveyed.

But, these numbers don’t add up from a medical standpoint.

According to psychologist Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, children should not be exposed to Chromebooks until they are at least 12 years old. In fact, he encourages parents to “demand” that schools teach without the electronic devices in order to stem the outbreak of screen addiction among children.

So, what gives?

The survey published in The Journal reveals that “teachers reported using tech for instructional purposes on average about 61 percent of the time.” One special education teacher was even quoted as declaring tech use “critical” for students because, “It gives them increased access to the curriculum and provides multiple means of engagement and response.”

Teachers say they’re great for education. Psychologists say they’re the gateway to an addiction comparable to heroin. Obviously, there’s a huge disconnect in the way experts in multiple fields view a child’s use of and interaction with technology.

The educator’s viewpoint is primarily influenced by the federal government’s Common Core State Standards Initiative. As educator Chris Minnich explains:

That’s why technology should be integrated into academics instead of taught separately. The standards include basic technology skills such as keyboarding that students must know to succeed, but in the bigger picture, they call for students to use technology to help them learn instead of just having technology, he said.

“Whether it be with using tools to solve math problems or using manipulatives in the writing process, we think technology is part of the solution,” Minnich said, “and it needs to be viewed that way rather than a crutch that students rely on.”

Although students are expected to learn how to evaluate and present information in various electronic formats, they are not expected to analyze the impact of the formats themselves. In other words, students are expected to accept screens as a de facto part of communication culture without ever questioning or exploring what impact those screens have on their health or their ability to communicate with others.

Unfortunately, educators are approaching Chromebooks and iPads the way previous generations approached pencils and paper, as tools to accomplish projects. This is simply not the case. These screen devices are exposing our children to unlimited amounts of unfiltered ideas and concepts. Before they can fully process their daily life they are given unlimited access to the entire world. That’s an overwhelming concept, even to an adult brain.

Technology is valuable to teachers because it enables them to fulfill federally and state mandated requirements. These requirements are marketed as “educational standards” to parents while they are treated as funding eligibility requirements by school administrators.

In other words, if a parent were to follow their doctor’s orders and demand that their child not receive a Chromebook or use one in the classroom, chances are they’d be held in contempt by educators pressured to achieve in order to earn government dollars.

It’s time parents not only question what their child is learning in the classroom, but how, and even more importantly, why.