'Computers harm ability to learn'

Published Thursday, 22 May 2014
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A teaching union in Northern Ireland has warned that addiction to computers is damaging children's ability to concentrate in school.

'Computers harm ability to learn'
The union claimed usage of computers is affecting schoolchildren's learning. (© Getty)

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it has received an increased number of reports from teachers worried about the impact of overuse of digital technology.

It warned that children are arriving for lessons unable to concentrate properly because they are spending too much time on games or social media.

The union is calling on the Education Minister to take action.

Mark Langhammer, NI director for ATL, said: "We'd like the Department of Education to issue guidance to all parents on the maximum amount of time which young children should spend on these devices, and on how kids can use digital technology safely and sensibly."

The union said there is currently no official guidance for parents in Northern Ireland on how much screen-time is safe for their children, or on how early children can be introduced to digital devices.

However it added that guidance issued by the American Academy of Paediatrics in the US indicates that children and teens shouldn't be allowed more than one or two hours per day.

Emma Quinn, who teaches a mixed P4 and P5 at a Newtownabbey primary school, said many children lacked motivation and found it hard to focus on anything which was not exciting.

"There's a complete lack of motivation among many of my pupils - these gadgets are really destroying their ability to learn," she explained.

"They're so used to the instant buzz which you can get with these games and gadgets that they find it really hard to focus on anything which isn't exciting.

"All they want to do is to get back home so they can play on their Xbox or get on their tablet again."

© UTV News
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4 Comments
wise up in comber wrote (66 days ago):
guy in coleraine, they are kids not machines what harm is there watching a bit of tv? as for giving them the best chance of employment in the future? millions unemployed and I bet better educated than your kids and cant get a job? get a life and let them be kids.
Anon in Belfast wrote (69 days ago):
Is there any research to back up this claim, or is this just pure supposition from teachers who fail to engage with their pupils? Computers and games are hardly new. Kids have been rushing home from school to play computer games for over 30 years.
Guy in coleraine wrote (69 days ago):
In my household computers and tech are a big focal point (we don't watch TV) and are treated just as much as educational devices as much as they are there for entertainment. I am currently half way through a bachelors degree with the open university and have completed numerous other certificates from English right through to 3D modeling. These values are also instilled in my daughter, who at the age of 9 is taught basic coding, programming and core skills like speed typing etc.And believe it or not my daughter excels in school as well. For me this is a case of: (a) bad parenting as too many parents just want a quiet life and stick the child in-front of a tablet and not engage with them, and (b)a dated education system that refuses to move and adapt to modern social constructs, favoring the dated text book education of the past 100 years. We all can't be bankers, solicitors and office workers, computers are the future and all jobs will be hugely influenced by them over the next 30 years. Instead of trying to find ways to get kids away from computers the education system needs to find a better way of integrating them into the system and in-turn giving our children the best chance of employment in the future.
Guy in coleraine wrote (69 days ago):
In my household computers and tech are a big focal point (we don't watch TV) and are treated just as much as educational devices as much as they are there for entertainment. I am currently half way through a bachelors degree with the open university and have completed numerous other certificates from English right through to 3D modeling. These values are also instilled in my daughter, who at the age of 9 is taught basic coding, programming and core skills like speed typing etc.And believe it or not my daughter excels in school as well. For me this is a case of: (a) bad parenting as too many parents just want a quiet life and stick the child in-front of a tablet and not engage with them, and (b)a dated education system that refuses to move and adapt to modern social constructs, favoring the dated text book education of the past 100 years. We all can't be bankers, solicitors and office workers, computers are the future and all jobs will be hugely influenced by them over the next 30 years. Instead of trying to find ways to get kids away from computers the education system needs to find a better way of integrating them into the system and in-turn giving our children the best chance of employment in the future.
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