I just found out that my 6 year old's school is going to purchase a cart of 30 iPads for the entire school to use. This makes me incredibly angry, even as a technology teacher, and it's not just because the PTA is using the money that my wife and I have contributed to the PTA over the last several years. (That was a lot of box tops.) I was having trouble verbalizing why I feel that this is a mistake, so I've come up with the top 3 reasons as to why this is a bad idea.
1.) Screen time
Students are exposed to computer, television, and projector screens enough already. Putting the screen in my child's hands is going to further distract them from the learning that they should be doing. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children get no more than two hours of screen time a day, and the iPad screen time will contribute to that amount. There is a link between screen time and impaired academic performance. I send my kids to school thinking that they will not be watching yet again another version of TV, but now I see that we won't have a choice.
The iPad is a huge fat advertisement for Apple. Put a giant Apple logo, and several smaller logos in front of my kids every day and there will definitely be an effect on their opinion of Apple. We already sell tons of ads to our kids and subject them to drivel from sources such as Channel One, I don't want another corporation's advertisements literally in their hands, influencing their young minds.
3.) Age appropriateness
In elementary school, students' brains are wired to learn more than at any time in their lives. They need to learn about the world around them through play and through interacting with others. If we stick them in front of iPads, we teach them how to look at a screen. Is that what we want our young people to be doing- looking at screens all day? Is that learning, is that what people are thinking that we should be doing with these precious years of their lives?
I don't think that iPads are going to be anything that our children need in their classrooms. It's not like they aren't going to see them at home. However, schools are supposed to be responsible with the time that we entrust to them with our children. Sticking them in front of yet another screen, covered in ads, wasting their precious young-brain time, is not a good use of the most important years of our kids lives.