You spend what feels like every waking second staring into a computer screen, so your kid should get used to it too, right? However reasonable (and bitter) that logic might seem, a new study reveals that increased computer use in the classroom actually correlates with a decline in reading skills. No word on whether or not the researchers checked the kids’ browser histories.
The report, from the Organization of Economic Cooperation And Development, combed through global data on test scores of 15-year-olds and found that improved reading performance peaks when kids use computers once or twice a month and begins a steady decline from there. But, the study’s lead researcher points out, “In most countries, the current use of technology is already past the point of optimal use in schools. We’re at a point where computers are actually hurting learning.”
One country that’s decidedly more skeptical about the benefits of computers in the classroom is Singapore — go ahead and guess where they fall on the global test score ranking. Another outlier in the test was Australia, where increased online reading tracks with improved reading skills, proving once again that everything is upside down down under.
Still, the overall findings shouldn’t come as a surprise to parents. Anyone who’s ever watched Mad Men knows how much more productive people used to be back when work got done over bar carts, not keyboards.