How Computers Hinder a Child's Ability to Learn

Daily Mail (London), March 22, 2005 | Go to article overview

How Computers Hinder a Child's Ability to Learn


Byline: SARAH HARRIS

CHILDREN'S learning is hindered rather than helped by computers, a major research study has found.

They are distracted by the availability of games, chatlines, or just the technology itself.

And in schools, computers are used more and more to replace hands-on teaching, which is usually more effective.

The report delivered the unequivocal verdict that students have a better chance of performing well in English and maths if they use computers less.

They do 'sizably and statistically significantly worse in both maths and English' when they use computers several times a week at school, the researchers found.

And the more computers there were in a student's home, the worse they did at maths.

The study, published by the Royal Economic Society, is a major blow to the Government which has earmarked [pounds sterling]2.5billion for school computers and pledged a further [pounds sterling]1.5billion in the future.

Researchers at Munich University analysed the achievements and home backgrounds of 100,000 15-year-olds in 31 countries. The data had been collected as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Pisa had originally concluded that the more pupils used computers the better they did. Those with more than one computer at home were a year ahead of those who had none, it said.

But the Munich team re-examinedthe data and decided it had been misinterpreted.

They concluded that families who had a computer or computers at home tended to be better off and with higher educational backgrounds, which was the real reason their children appeared to be further advanced.

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