Schools influence on tech

My daughter’s USA public school is tech heavy. They started using iPads in kinder with education apps- whist not proving to actually advance any learning benefit. We adamantly didn’t use ANY sign on codes in the 4 years of my daughters elementary school time. Now they are using chrome books and keyboard more than write- my daughter keeps forgetting how to spell certain words because of spell checker- it doesn’t allow the thought process of sounding out a word and seeing a misspelled word… anyways- the thing I’m most upset by is they are teaching how to make videos now- priming to vlog. So wrong- kids need to learn organic tools like face to face communication and writing- the whole worlds industries are not completely tech- I hand write in my health care job everyday.

Anyways… anyone else here standing up to their school district demanding less tech and more regular developmental education? I could go on and on how this has affected our education system locally- they beg for money to get laptops and then don’t fix broken sinks in bathrooms- infuriating,… I’m rambling on here- but my daughter is learning some addictive features of tech in school- how does one send a kid to school to only to be groomed for a bad habit.


I would also think that the switch from iPads to chromebooks might not be an improvement - Google being primarily an ad-selling company. I don’t know the ins and outs of these laptops, and they made some pledges to respect the privacy of children in school programs… but this would worry me personally.
This article - while a couple of years old - may still pose some valid concerns nowadays:

Washington Post - Google is tracking students as it sells more products to schools, privacy advocates warn

1 Like

I’m just wondering if anyone cares? Why is this still happening? Are there tech rights lawyers?

Do people think kids are really learning on these? I heard kids don’t know how sign their own name when getting a drivers liscence now-

Hi, I am from Bend OR and the public schools here have a mandatory 1:1 iPad program, with no opt out option. I have stated in writing to the school that my child is not to use any tech and to give him pen, paper or other paper projects instead. Surprisingly they have complied with my request. Other parents have implemented any IEP stating no screens in school.

My reasons for not using iPads are the following (1) No research that iPads/tech actually improve learning ( 2) Data privacy concerns (3) Eye damage and sleep disruption from blue light emitted from screens (3) Postural issues etc.

I know of many parents that care about this issue but are afraid to speak up about it.



Good for you!! How many parents are concerned? I hate sticking out- my daughter has an IEP already so maybe I’ll use that… It’s a relief to hear your strategy and reasons!!

Interesting read: Low tech is the new cool to outdo the Jones…

1 Like

From my perspective parents and schools are the linchpin for our children in this issue. Core teams and other professionals within the schools need to be trained to identify students who are tech addicted or dependent, and understand the potential impact Technology has on their brain and social development. I currently provide training for professionals on the impact of Tech on Substance use, anxiety and depression,violence and suicide. I’m amazed how many professionals lack the of awareness of how technology is influencing these areas, including school shootings! More programs need to be provided so that parents understand the connection and professionals have a greater awareness for the identification and remediation.

1 Like

@Krig I see the connection with shootings as well… Everyone has a different response to social isolation and technology at this point with platforming is isolating.

@jkrig where do you provide training? Do you market your services in USA heavy tech school districts?

I found this podcast about the state of Maine, the first state to have 1;1 tech public in schools. Lessons learned…

It is interesting that it is not easy for those of us who want only appropriate technology to feel like we can speak out. But it is so important! The more parents that ask schools and school districts to be accountable for how they use technology the more likely we might be able to implement change! Common Sense Media has a lot of resources to help empower parents; here is one:

1 Like

Hello healthyswimmer.

I’m a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, where I direct the Critical Media Lab. I have been doing workshops at schools about device usage and student self-management. I designed a kit called Resistor Case that teachers can use to help students control their smartphone use. Really, it’s a DIY project that gets students to focus their attention on technology habits while they make something. I wrote about it in The Atlantic. You might consider contacting the school to see if some teachers might be interested in using it. Here are some links: .



Continuing the discussion from Schools influence on tech:

I share the same concern with our very young children, our kids have iPad and iMac access in preschool from 3. With the older kids, I’d really like to see smart phones away for school hours and social media/gaming site blocks at school. But for young kids, some schools (ours) have a 1:1 program from 8, but they use a lot of tech before this; stories are read on iPads because iPads engage children, they play reward-based edu-games and use reading apps - with classes going towards being paperless by even 8 years old. I’d be happy for a few hours of purposeful tech for this age group a week, but I’m often not happy with how it’s being used, and I don’t see a need for 1:1 until later.
I think a lot of parents have concerns, but don’t want to voice them and be ‘that parent’, and while many teachers wouldn’t take their dislike of a parent out on the child, it’s maybe harder to develop a connection with a child whose parents you dislike, or at least that’s often parental perception and reason not to make a fuss. All parents I know who discussed it with the principal were told it’s the way of the future, you’re holding your child back etc. Similarly opt out is making that child different, which many parents don’t want.

I wondered about the accountability, when there is pretty clear evidence in some areas (reward based edu-games, reading eggs-type apps and the effect on (reduced) comprehension and developing reading for pleasure), there seems no clear reason for iPad play time other than ‘way of the future’. With distraction and negative risks (addiction, mental health, vision etc) and no clear learning benefit with these levels of use, surely there is a way to get some guidelines or legislative change? Some celebrity taking the issue up, or finding a way for parents to feel ok to address it, and actually do so??!! I wondered about the legal risk to schools in the future also if students can make a good case that they were effected negatively.
Any ideas or thoughts out there?

1 Like

@JC3 Exactly- same choir here!! That is very concerning preschoolers have iPads!! My daughters kinder class 4 years ago (public school) asked us to do reading eggs at home- I pretended like they didn’t ask and from that time on we NEVER ever did one education app at home (we don’t own an iPad). My daughter is in 3rd grade now and is above 5th grade reading level.

Have you heard about the 15 year 1:1 experience of Rhode Island public schools? They are learning things we are concerned about after 15 years of 1:1. I’m taking this problem into my own hands and standing up for what is right. I’ve watched the public school system quickly change protocol based on no research- a few years ago kids would show up at the DMV to get a drivers liscence and not have a signature because they cut out cursive… so now they do 8 weeks of cursive and go right to keyboarding on laptops in 3rd grade- now my kid can’t write out her thoughts in cursive without melting down. With the childhood obesity epidemic- there is no way I’m exposing my kid to google’s grooming her dopamine surge… I can’t believe the US has handed our education system to google!!! I could go on and on- I just wish our kids could have time to develop first. Now I don’t trust US education system…

@marcel that’s great! It’s so important to have people out there like you to aid in recovery. Someday though, I’m hoping there will be groups of kids out there who value FaceTime in 3D with very low exposure to tech. Just like some families growing up had very low TV time- their house was just different. Everyone played games and made eye contact in those homes and laughed together.

Someday this will happen with technology- it will loose its sexy & quick gratification and serve the purpose it intended- to be a tool we use occasionally not an appendage or lobe of our brain.

I haven’t heard of the Rhode Island 1:1 experience, can you send a link?

I think with more research coming out about reduced educational outcomes (less retention taking notes on devices etc), beyond the schools feeling that kids won’t get jobs without this level of exposure/‘way of the future’ and parents intuitively feeling for their very young concrete learners that so much ed-tech doesn’t seem right - it seems possible and reasonable that this could be addressed. The current use by many elementary schools is just not evidence-based. I know all the research isn’t negative, but I think some areas are becoming more clear. It would be good to catch it before the self fulfilling arguement becomes this is all kids know so we have to teach them in a way that’s relevant, and this is how teachers have been trained now, there’s no going back etc. Purposeful evidence-based, age appropriate tech use, not anti tech. I’d love to hear ideas on how this could be done. It would be great to have a group behind it so one person can’t be dismissed as a nutter…

A little while back I addressed about 500 educators and parents in a very tech-savvy school district just north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I explained to them the truth about addiction, digital or otherwise, and suggested to them in so many words that the only real antidotes to the downside effects of digital technology on children, families and schools were plenty of family and social activities, and plenty of outdoor activities. Here’s my list of specific suggestions as presented to the educators:

  • Be skeptical and do no harm. Treat all screen-based technologies as narcotic, and deploy them on a minimum-daily-adult-requirement basis.

  • All classroom screen-based activities with young children should be socialized (with two or more children per screen) and supervised.

  • All classroom screen-based activities for older children should likewise be socialized (older children begin to consume more and more media in isolation).

  • Cultivate, elevate and ritualize meaningful non-screen activities like sports, nature appreciation, music and art at every opportunity.

  • Declare screen-free zones like playgrounds and gyms.

  • Confine all screen time for all age groups to one screen at a time.

  • Designate one or more weekly screen-free days.

For the parents I offered a list of things to remember in their efforts to protect the quality of life for their children and families:

  • The smaller and more personalized digital screen technologies become, the less control you – as parents – have over them.

  • Electronic media promote isolation over socialization and blur the distinctions between parent and child.

  • Protecting the quality of life in the 21st century is more a function of subtraction than addition.

  • Reverse course: Always seek to push encounters and raise communications up the Emotional Impact Ladder. Look for ways to create deliberate friction.

The above notwithstanding, I don’t think many school districts (or families or communities) are standing up well to the digital assault, especially when the pressure to digitize everything is still coming from every conceivable constituency: peers, parents, administrators, government and industry.

Just some thoughts…


As a teacher in a school where every child has an iPad, some of the ideas you have presented are excellent. I particularly like the idea socializing screen-based activities in an attempt to remove the isolationism that can be commonly associated with tech use.

Have you done any reading or studying (that you could recommend) that provides useful information in dealing with excessive screen usage in schools?

Great ideas- I want to mention though that there is a displacement of time in school on any tech based program. Nothing can replace the time lost in childhood of learning how to collaborate face to face- use fine motor skills to communicate.

Not all jobs require heavy tech use- in fact some skills will be lost forever in this generation. With how easy technology is to use now… there is no reason why this can’t wait. The business industry is pushing and supporting tech in schools- and they have the power to support it. Other professions like healthcare, law, science do not require complete encapsulation in technology.

Technology in classrooms prime kids to communicate using technology- which is a health risk so young- if anything schools should have a campaign against using something that might affect physical and emotional well being.

My child cannot write her thoughts down using a pen and paper after using laptops for the last 3 months- so we are remediating this along with spelling which is not taught anymore too due to spell check.

At least in the USA- we need to realize that common core testing will not test whether our children are losing basic life skills due to displacement of time learning something that will completely change by the time they are older.

People old enough to know need to examine how they learned as a child and appreciate the processing time given needed up function and learn.

It would be interesting to survey the professional background of people who support technology in schools- and the concerns of people in mental health and other health care related fields.


Thank you for the kind words.

Neil Postman’s The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School was a pretty prescient and provocative treatise on modern education, and Stanton Peele’s Addiction Proof Your Child does a very good job of describing the mechanics of addiction, regardless of the narcotic. More recently, Jean Twenge’s Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us offers a chilling look at the psychological and social downsides of digital technology.

Otherwise, I can’t really recommend anything more remedial, in no small measure because a) I just haven’t encountered anything I thought worthy enough to pass along, and b) because I’m not an educated man and have little patience for those who would rather showcase than share what they know. I’m not a big fan of expertise per se.

So I formulated my own guidelines, all of which were predicated on simple common sense tempered by deeper, largely intuitive understandings of media ecology and addiction (respectively reflected by the Neil Postman and Stanton Peele recommendations above) reinforced by personal life lessons. Although they describe the two dominant components of our current dilemma, neither media ecology nor addiction have been addressed at all well by the pablum that passes as informed debate in our society.

A more important and effective strategy, I think, is to challenge national assumptions on a local basis. We don’t need the answers to get started. We need to ask the right questions, and the right questions will always share two base components: skepticism, our primary obligation as adults, and ethics, our primary obligation as human beings.

Accordingly, the right question to begin any engagement is never, “Can I do this?” The right question is, “Should I do this?”

Thanks again.

1 Like