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Dr. Joanne Meier

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More computer time = lower test scores?

July 12, 2010

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 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. 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.


Technology is not to blame for lowing a students course or test scores. Parents have the ultimate responsibility to control how much “free” time their child spends playing games or on the Internet. Parents need to make sure that their child is spending the right amount of time completing school assignment, no matter if they are on the computer or not.

I think if we have kids do their schoolwork first and provide supervision it will balance out. We should not keep them from the internet because we are such a technology-based society.

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"Reading is not optional." —

Walter Dean Myers