Bring Your Own Technology

. December 1, 2014.

This year, Ann Arbor Public Schools are piloting a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) program at select schools. The idea is to allow kids to bring an iPad, or other similar technological device, to school as an aid in the learning process. Of course, parenting is a learning process in and of itself, and one thing I have learned is that a big part of modern parenting is the act of limiting “screen time.” It’s hard enough to keep kids off these things at home, now we want to send them to school with an iPad?

However well-meaning the good people at AAPS are, the idea that kids need more time with technology, as opposed to less, is absurd. 

Being wrong can be right

Rather than have a child google a concept when he or she is unsure of what it is, perhaps they should be taught to think things through, to analyze, to theorize about answers, and most importantly, to be wrong about their own notions and ideas.

We learn far more from being wrong, and learning from that error or mistake, than we do from instant access to the internet. AAPS schools have great teachers. I want my children learning from them, not Wikipedia.

An iPad is a useful tool. But beware of these tools, they can become a crutch. Technology can replace analysis and relationships. I fear the day a fourth grade classroom has a room full of children with faces buried in their iPads. Aside from the basics of education, the three R’s and all that, these kids should be interacting with each other. Social skills are too important to neglect, especially in the elementary age group.

Low tech lessons 

You can’t learn empathy without learning to read another person’s expression and mannerisms. When three children are gathered around an iPad, the technology itself is the focal point, not each other. Perhaps high-school students would benefit more from the BYOT policy, but I doubt it. My guess is they would be on Facebook or Instagram all day.

For elementary age students, BYOT is, simply put, a bad idea. We should replace BYOT with mandatory daydreaming time. Let them sit under a tree for ten minutes and think about the world, or whatever strikes their fancy at the time. If all the kid can do is sit there and be bored, that isn’t such a bad thing either.

Childhood goes by fast enough, let it slow down a little — for their sake and for ours.

Jeremy Rosenberg gave up the corporate rat race years ago to become a freelance writer and graduate student, as well as a stay-at-home dad to his two children, Jack, 10, and Eva, 5. He also enjoys playing the guitar, letting his cats fall asleep on his lap, and trying to be a decent human being.