Education Technology and the young child: three reasons why parents should opt out

We live in a world where technology will continue to take us to new places. From driverless cars to optical computers there is no telling what the world will look like in 20 years, thanks to the endless drive for innovation, efficiency, and profits.  Some of us are excited about the possibilities while others fear the unknown, and if you are like me you feel a bit of both.  Yes, I want technology that makes my work easier, but I do believe there are some things we just do not to spend time and energy creating.  

Well, we do not have to wait much longer to learn how education technology will impact schools and classrooms.  After the federal government passed the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) late last year, companies eagerly began pushing education technology to the states that are now given more control over curriculum and testing. Competency-based education (CBE) and personalized learning became the technology buzz words as companies promise to improve education through self-directed learning or student-centered learning. Sounds great, right? I mean who does not want student-centered learning. But these companies could not make a profit on student-centered learning unless it came packaged in a variety of education technologies.  What they fail to mention is that hidden between student-centered and learning is technology. From computers, to apps and software, it is the technology these companies are marketing.  
 
That still might not sound too bad. I mean, as adults, most of us spend our working hours on computers and keep the most comprehensive piece of technology in our pocket.  Shouldn’t our children get ahead of the technology future by early exposure in schools? If exposure was the only result, I would agree. However, education technology is not about exposing your child to new technology. It’s about replacing your child’s educational experience from a human-based interactive setting to a complete virtual experience.  If that is the future that education technology has to offer, then I, for one, want no part of it. Humans are social creatures and we thrive from interaction with others and active learning with our head, hands, and heart. No computer program can provide students with a high-quality education. In fact, the overuse of education technology can be harmful to the development of young children.  Below are three reasons why parents should opt out of education technology: 

1.     Education technology can have negative effects on your child’s emotional/social, physical, language, and cognitive development 

There are a variety of views on how children learn, based on the different theories gathered from research. Some theories are based on the fact that children construct knowledge as they engage with new materials and encounter new experiences. Other theories focus on the social interaction that students get with teachers and peers as the basis for their development.  Another theory highlights the interactions children have with their environment that influence their personality.  And another theory examines whether a person has their basic needs met, such as food, safety, and water and feel loved and belonging, as paramount to whether they can learn. What all these theories have in common is that children learn best when they have active experiences with adults, peers, and their environment that provide them with engaging opportunities to learn. Education technology that have a child sitting in front of computer for hours at a time removes all of the necessities for a quality educational experience. 

2.    Education technology has not been proven to be an effective means of educating children and will have adverse effects on schools and teachers. 

Teachers have been using technology in the classroom for a long time. I remember having a computer station for my kindergarten students to use during choice time.  Today, many classrooms have smart boards and many teachers use apps such as Class Dojo to support instruction and classroom management. The key word is support. Education technology should support teachers and children. However, the future of education technology is not to support but to replace. And how do we know that education technology can provide better outcomes for students in the short and long term? We don’t. We simply do not have enough longitudinal studies that support turning education into a virtual experience.  And until we do, we should not allow these companies to use our children as guinea pigs.  I highly recommend reading The Education of Sam Sanders  by T. S. Poetter which provides a fictional view of the future if education technology is allowed to run rampant over public education.
 

3.    Education technology will allow for nonstop collection of your child’s private information through data mining.  

Ever search for something on Google and then see the same thing advertised next time you log into Facebook? Obviously, Google is selling your information to Facebook or the advertiser so they can follow you wherever you go online, constantly marketing their products. Now imagine this happening to your child all day while they sit at a computer, engaging in “personalized learning”. Not only will the technology record every stroke your child makes, it will compile that personal data so that the companies can better market their product to your child.  Additionally, the education technology companies will get all of our child’s personal information from the school without asking for your permission first. Do we really want companies marketing to young children while they are supposed to be learning? 

Your child’s future should not be left in the hands of for profit corporations. Education is a vital human right not a commodity to be siphoned off to the highest bidder.  Technology should enhance our lives not control them.  If you are concerned about the impact that education technology will have on your school, you should submit your opt-out letter that includes restrictions to screen time and data mining. Together we can protect the right of all children for a high-quality education. 

Click here for a sample letter and more information on the dangers of education technology from Parents Across America. 

Comments 0

  1. These are all great talking points. I would add one, as well. We need to talk about hardware obsolescence. Schools invested billions of dollars to prepare for online Common Core testing under RttT. Whatever they bought, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, ipads, whatever those devices are, they have a lifespan. The batteries are going to stop charging, and then what?
    Not too many of us are still using flip phones. The cellular carriers know this and that’s why we upgrade every couple of years and we still pay a bill every month.
    What is going to happen when the devices schools bought for testing start to die? I believe the plan is to eliminate teachers or cut salaries so drastically that schools will be able to pay for a “plan” every month, the way consumers do for cell phones.
    And think about who stands to gain…Bill Gates comes to mind.

    1. Excellent point. I keep wondering what comes after the cloud. Where will my files be stored then? We no longer need flash drives and CD’s and now thumb drives are on their way out. But will the cloud last forever or will it be replaced. Investment in hardware as well know thanks to are phones and iPad are not good unless it comes with a no cost upgrade.

  2. Our school refused to accept this and told us that we can’t refuse our sons rights to information technology as this is part of the educational system. Even had a lawyers paper to show us.

    1. Education technology should assist learning not become learning. You are not asking for their permission you are telling them about the choice you made for their child and they need to honor that choice.

    2. Where does your son go to school? I’m curious about those lawyers papers and if it’s really founded on a child’s right to healthy development- postural and neuromuscular problems can impair proper growth of the spine etc…

    1. True. But after Columbine parents could not imagine not sending their child to school with a cell phone.

  3. Colorado United Opt Out .org is refusing information to parents. Colorado Department of Eduction has removed their Opt-Out website. I am concerned that Colorado is outside the law. The state of Colorado claims they are a “Local Control” state and that the school district Superintendent can don “anything he wants to do” and that “the Colorado Department of Education has no jurisdiction over any school district in Colorado”. I am glad that east coast states are organizing and informing the public on the harm of these tests. Please look into the west and Colorado in particular.

    1. I am not familiar with Colorado laws. Education has been delegated to all states. I am not sure how much control the districts have but the department of education does have responsibility to monitor. Even under local control someone has to be held accountable. The Colorado Department of Education should be the place where parents can report problems from the district.

  4. Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is in the throes of this, as we speak. BCPS has been positioned to be an example for the country (and the world) with their 1:1 digital initiative, called STAT. The truth of how it is happening here vs. how it is marketed are two very different things. It has been a highly manipulated process to force the appearance of success. Getting parents to wake up and realize what all of this truly entails has been a monumental task. There have been videos created to demonstrate the high-tech ambush of Baltimore County Public Schools.
    Baltimore County Public Schools is a VERY good example of how this is going down in many public school systems all across the country. BCPS admin likes to “teach” about what we are doing, which makes for a great deal of material with which to piece together this High-Tech/Ed-Tech ambush. BCPS has in fact mastered it — complete with getting kids to do the sales pitches as well as the creation of an atmosphere within school buildings of jealously and anticipation amongst the grades which propels STAT forward. (BCPS was right, they have always said that the kids would lead the way!) BCPS has very effectively harnessed the power of the doe-eyed child against the accommodating (or ignorant) parent who stands no chance against a “window to the world” and the gamification of education. Herein lies the Anatomy of a High-Tech Takeover of a Public School System: Baltimore County Public Schools.
    What is happening to us in not unique, the massive digital breadcrumb trail of hubris is, however, what sets us apart. We used to think that STAT (BCPS’ digital initiative) was a local tech-obsessed issue. Now we are certain that it is, instead, absolutely the foundation and platform for Competency/Mastery-Based Education.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6cLRD06DFU

    1. Wow. Thanks for sharing. I will check out the links. Would you be interested in being a guest on a DC radio show that focuses on national and local education issues? It’s a monthly show and the fourth Thursday of each month I help coordinate different guests for the 11-12 est. I would love for this to be a topic. If you’re interested please email me at denishanjones@gmail.com

  5. Love your article!! I am working with several parents in Boone County KY to allow parents the choice to have a more traditional classroom. The parents are being told if you don’t like it find a new school, and teachers are called facilitators and told if they don’t like it they need to find a different place to teach. The kids sit in front of the computer most of the school day, they move at their own pace, they only have to answer 10 multiple choice questions to test out of the chapter and move to the next. 8 weeks into school, there are kids finished with the entire year. The teachers that like to teach and engage are finding it difficult because the students are all over the curriculum. Chaos. I also read that facilitators do not need to have any degree and can be trained by the company who made program. The data collection policy includes parents, students, school, any computers or devices used to access program – keep in mind they give parents log in for parent portals to check out your child’s progress. Very disturbing, thank you for your article, couldn’t agree more!!!

  6. Basic Theory of Electrostatics – Today’s Accepted Model. Matter is composed of protons, neutrons and electrons.

  7. Montessori Classics is a home-based preschool and kindergarten for children from 2.5 to 6 years of age.
    Our beautiful learning materials and the loving teacher surround children as they fulfil their profound need to learn. Being exposed at their most sensitive periods to such an enriched environment, children develop their abilities to a high level, without pressure and through freedom of choice. All areas of learning are brought together so that the child understands life as a whole.

  8. The recent crackdown of the U.S. authorities on some online computer support companies has resurrected the once-buried debate among customers whether or not to trust them for technical support needs. According to the findings of the U.S. authorities, the nabbed companies were alleged of duping customers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada in the name of providing computer support services. Most of them were mainly operating from India as said by the authorities.

  9. “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” (Dalai Lama) – In other words, the people who bother you, annoy you, bug you and irritate you, are the ones bearing the greatest gifts for you. So don’t shoot the messenger! This follows what I talked about in another article titled “When You Judge Another, You Define Yourself” – that the things you don’t like in others’ behavior are really indicators of those things in yourself that need attention and awareness.

  10. In today’s fast paced life, nothing is possible without computers. All over the world, computers have become the primary support system to millions, across all kinds of functionalities. Hence the world comes to a standstill if something happens to our desktop or laptops.

  11. It is important for children to be educated on the technology they use every day as it is a part of their live’s. What is not ok though, is turning it into an actual form of education. Children should be aware of the technology they use, how to use them and why. It should not become a learning process where teachers take away social interaction and replace it with a digital one. Children are and will grow up with technology by their side, but it should not control them.

  12. you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?
    When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!