By: Rebecca Savastio
Parents, would you give your children a crack pipe and a couple grams of rock cocaine? Would you take them to the casino to gamble or introduce them to cigarettes? How about providing them with unlimited alcohol with no concern or discussion about its dangers?
If you answered these questions with “no,” then why are you giving them electronic gadgets without also insisting upon strict usage limitations? Why are you giving your babies and toddlers ipads when doctors and psychologists have issued repeated strict warnings that children under two should not be exposed to any screens at all? Most importantly, why are we allowing gadgets to proliferate in US classrooms with no proof that these technologies improve learning outcomes?
A strong body of evidence suggests that gadgets like smartphones, ipads and laptops are as addictive as illegal street drugs, and that being separated from them can result in severe physical withdrawal symptoms including sweating, shaking, extreme anxiety, heart palpitations and hyperventilation.
What’s worse, in addition to their highly addictive nature, overuse of these objects have been proven to reduce productivity, impair cognition and cause shrinkage of brain tissue (that’s also known as brain damage.)
Now before you prepare your statements calling me a Luddite, let me clarify that I’m not suggesting that the aforementioned items be banned, I’m simply proposing that we become more careful about using them, since they can cause tremendous harm when misused. While this suggestion incites a state of absolute rage in self-proclaimed Cyber Evangelists, fear of being labeled old fashioned should not stop us from discussing this very real and growing problem.
Think about your own life for a moment. If you’ve ever sat impatiently at a table while your companion fiddled with his phone, played with your own phone while ignoring your children, found yourself wasting time on social media when you should have been doing something else or know someone who has been killed in a texting and driving accident, then you’ve already experienced some of the tragedies and frustrations caused by gadget addiction.
In some Asian countries, there are actual centers set up for the sole purpose of treating this addiction. There is great concern over use of electronics in schools, and now some doctors in the US are following suit. In fact, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford Connecticut offers both intensive care and individual counseling for those who are unable to tear themselves away from their devices.
Gadget use is unique in that it is the only thing which is proven to be highly addictive that we aggressively push on our children at home and in schools. No other vice which has the potential for damaging our physical and mental health is treated similarly.
It is beyond bizarre that we would continue to implement “Bring Your Own Gadget” programs in schools when we know they have the potential to lower grades and interfere with deep, focused learning. In fact, in the last ten years, SAT and ACT college readiness scores have been plunging consistently, both winding up at all-time historical lows in 2012. To believe there is no correlation between the explosion of technology in classrooms and our current standing in education is misguided at best.
Studies have shown that most students who bring their phones into the classroom use it for personal texting during the lesson instead of its intended purpose. Since multitasking has been proven to be a myth and shown to reduce productivity by up to 40% by a body of solid evidence, we can only conclude that using gadgets in the classroom has contributed to the decline of education in the US.
We must blow the whistle on the current trend of gadgets in the classroom, and begin to reign in their use in the home or suffer ever-increasing dire consequences.
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