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When kids get on the computer, do they spend more time surfing the ‘net and less time doing homework and studying? It appears that way, according to this article (opens in a new window) in Sunday’s New York Times. Whether it’s a lack of parental supervision to help keep a student focused on studying, or the lure of email, chat and games, the data from students in North Carolina and Texas (two different studies) suggest that Internet access had a negative effect on student test scores, and ended up “widening achievement gaps between socioeconomic groups.” This appears to be especially true for students from lower income households.

Anyone surprised? As others have said, technology isn’t the panacea for education (opens in a new window). And it’s not to blame. As parents and teachers, we have an important role to play by helping kids manage their screen time, to see that some screen time is educational, and that non-screen time (i.e., regular life) is stimulating too!

The study from the Journal of Economic Research on students in North Carolina public schools by Ladd and Vigdor is here (opens in a new window).

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
July 12, 2010