Is There Such A Thing as Too Much Technology?

tin cans

My son’s computer is driving me crazy.  I know; it’s a machine and doesn’t have actual powers, but in this case, it really is making me nuts.

Bailey’s school, The American School in Japan (ASIJ) required him to have a brand new MacBook this fall.  We bought the top of the line machine, fully loaded, the best available.  He has to bring it to school every day and they use it in class for taking notes and for writing blog posts.  At home he uses it for research and homework purposes.

Bailey is taking Algebra, and about twice a month he has a “problem of the week” (POW) due.  However, it’s not just a math problem.  The way the teacher has structured it, Bailey has to do the math, then create a video of himself doing the math – or practicum – or whatever it is – and then has to prepare an audio as a voice-over to narrate the film, before uploading it all to his teacher.  I am fully in favor of technology in the classroom, and he has definitely learned a lot by doing this.  I’m just on the fence as to whether or not the math class is the right one in which to put the skills into practice.  This is something I’ve written about in the past.

But back to the actual computer.  This week, as he did his POW, he was chatting online with friends.  He watched sports videos between takes of his own videos.  Sometimes he even checked Facebook. There are so many distractions available!  On Monday night when he was working on a social studies project I moved my computer next to his so I could see precisely what he was doing any given second.

The school, however, has tied my hands.  I can’t take away the computer as a punishment if he’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing.  It’s his learning tool and he needs it at school.  So if he wastes time being distracted, I have very little recourse besides simple nagging.  I would like to make it so he has to just sit and work, not have the distractions available, but I can’t do it.  I am having trouble teaching him about staying focused.

I am by no means a Luddite; I believe in using technology to the fullest.  But there has to be limits somewhere, and perhaps 8th grade is too young to expect kids to be in charge of themselves fully.  Focus, time-management, and study skills are things that do not come naturally; they need to be taught, and sometimes the computer is an impediment to that.

Please, if you have a different opinion, or a suggestion here, let me know.  I’m having trouble reconciling myself to my son’s dependence on technology and the issues implied therein.  Feel free to let me know what you think.

2 thoughts on “Is There Such A Thing as Too Much Technology?

  1. interesting conundrum… I am part of a scholars program at E’s school where I learn once a week w/ a partner (chavrutsa style) and this past weeks session was all about this. I am going to email you the link so you can read it if you’d like.

  2. Hi, it is my fist time to visit your site but the story reminds me the thought I had recently. My son, 12 yo, lives in the UK and goes to a middle school there. He has Japanese parents (me and my wife) but born in the US and has spent most of his time in English speaking countries (US and UK). A few months back I had an opportunity to watch him doing his IT(or math, I was not 100% sure) homework. He had to log in to the school website with his own username/password to get to his “folder”. He opened up an excel file which he had done halfway through his homework already. The things he was manipulating in the excel worksheet was way advanced (e.g. conditional case-switch logic program using IF and SUMIFS command and more, even I could not recognise) and the objective is to determine how much fee to be charged to each customer if the theme park wanted to stay in positive profit over the situation of the fix cost and the incremental cost while the number of customer changes (it sounds like a uni level financial class problem!). It is a local middle school, not a Japanese school in the UK. Is this just we are so behind in technology, or they are ridiculously eager?

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