Almost all of my seventh-grade daughter's assignments require technology. Should there be a limit to how much schoolwork should be done online/with a computer?


Jamie Martin, Assistive Technology Consultant for Students and Adults with Dyslexia

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In this day and age, it is a good thing that your daughter is becoming proficient in completing her work on a computer. By the time she enters the workforce, she will likely need to rely on her technology skills to do her job.

Still, it is completely understandable that parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend looking at screens on a daily basis. After all, there are plenty of other online activities besides schoolwork that prevent them from doing other things, like reading books and exercising outdoors. Teachers certainly play a part in helping this generation of kids find a healthy balance between technology-based activities and other things that are important to their well-being. But parents can also take an active role. A good place to start is by having meaningful conversations about technology use and working with your children to create guidelines that make sense for your particular families. A resource that may help get things started is a Family Media Agreement from the online organization, Common Sense Media.

Jenny Bristol, Homeschooling Parent, Writer, and Editor

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Students learn different kinds of things by interacting with their schoolwork in different ways. Doing work on a computer has certain advantages such as speed, variation in material, learning typing skills, using individually designed curriculum, having access to multimedia, and completing projects that involve interacting with people that aren't nearby. There are similar kinds of advantages to doing work "by hand", as it were, including handwriting skills, fine motor skills, solidifying information in a different part of your brain, being able to do much more flexible work, and the more tangible feeling of your work.

I don't believe there should be a hard limit on the amount of work done on the computer. Like it or not, the information age is here, and kids need to be used to working on a computer. That being said, I do believe that the methods of work done should have some amount of balance. It's important to have work on paper, on the computer, and in other kinds of physical forms. We need to allow kids time to focus at a desk, and also get them up moving around. They should be creating as well as taking in information.

Doing work on the computer isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure, there are programs that have students answer a question with a multiple choice answer, or a fill in the blank one. But there are also materials that teach kids computer programming, or graphic design. Videos for how to make a loaf of bread can be watched before students try it themselves, for example. It's not just the medium of delivery that matters. It's how it is used. Technology should be used as part of a larger program that includes plenty of outdoor play, creativity exercises, and critical thinking. Technology is a tool, and it's all about creating a balance. But sometimes a computer is the best tool for the job.

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