Are computers the new generation parents?



John Invernizzi, Ph.D.
2010
     When I was a student in a junior high school class, we watched a film about something called automation.  It was about machines making life easier for humankind or taking over their jobs, I do not remember.  In any case, I think people have always looked for ways to make life a little easier.  In our new age of rapidly growing technology, computers have enabled us to do things easier, quicker and more accurately.  The knowledge available through computer programs and the Internet still amazes me.
APA Style:   Invernizzi, J. (2010). "Are Computers the New Generation Parents?" Retrieved May 4, 2012, from EducationDx, USA. Web site: http://www.educationdx.com/computers-next-generation-parents.html.
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     By the title of this article, you are probably wondering if I am worrying about SkyNet taking over the planet.  In the Terminator movies, SkyNet was the artificial intelligence system that became self-aware and revolted against its creators.  I do not think we are there yet, however, the use of the computer at home, as a nanny or cyber nanny sitter stimulates one's imagination. 

     In retrospect, before computers, the TV provided many of us with similar company or electronic supervision.  As with any argument, there are many sides to an issue.  I will attempt to briefly examine a concern about children and their computer use.
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     Are students spending too much time on the computer, not enough or just about the right amount?  When they are on the computer, are they learning things, or are they just playing games?  If it is at home, you are probably thinking it is OK, and it is their free time.  Is the amount of time a student sits at a computer in a K-12 classroom a concern?  Is that time spent wisely or is it busy work/free playtime?

     It may be a little of each, of course, depending upon the student and the teacher.  Some parents and educators justify time spent on the computer, saying that we live in a world based on competition, and if our students are not leading the charge, we will be left out.  They see the computer as a tool to help illustrate, reinforce and review materials discussed in class.  Sometimes the computer helps remediate.

    
The computer can help students of all ability ranges, and customized activities to match individual needs.  The computer is nonjudgmental.  In that sense, it would treat everybody equally without prejudice.  Some programs even have built in "at-a-boys/at-a-girls" in an attempt to humanize the learning process while using reinforcement techniques.  I am not quite sure this gets the same response as a big smile and a pat on the back from a human teacher or from a parent/guardian.
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