Low-down on high-tech in schools

13th January 2012 at 00:00

Graham Brown-Martin is right - there's no place for technophobia in a 21st-century education system ("Technophobia has no place in education," 6 January). The great challenge confronting schools at the moment is to optimise the use of ICT for learning, both in school and at home.

But there's no place for unquestioning technophilia either. Evidence shows that the misuse of technology can inhibit children's capacity to learn - and the younger they are, the more damage it can do. If young children spend much of their time interacting with technology rather than the real world and real people, the chances are they'll be hooked into a sedentary, screen-based lifestyle predicated on entertainment rather than education.

We know that too much early screen-gazing affects physical, social and linguistic development. We also know that children who arrive at primary school with poor language skills and difficulties in controlling their behaviour and focusing attention have problems learning the three Rs. In this case, spending hours each day gazing at an interactive whiteboard is unlikely to improve the situation. Indeed, by the time they reach secondary school, they're likely to be so disaffected with the whole business that no amount of brilliant technology will retrieve them.

All the indications are that a rising number of children - especially from disadvantaged backgrounds - are being exposed to too much ICT, too soon, and commercial forces are pressing more and more technological products on parents, early years practitioners and primary staff. In deciding how best to make use of technology as an educational tool, the first stage is to consider children's developmental needs.

Sue Palmer, Literacy specialist and author of Toxic Childhood, Edinburgh.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now