Giving kids computers to help boost their education is turning out to be a complete waste of time.
US education authorities are just starting to work out that if you give a kid a computer they will not suddenly turn into programming geniuses. They will play games.
Apparently the problem has been noticed as educationalists checked to see if giving low-income kids PCs would be the great social leveller they thought.
According to Apple’s favourite newspaper the New York Times they found that there was little or no educational benefit giving kids PCs. In fact test scores for the poor kids fall after the machine arrives.
Ofer Malamud, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago, wrote a study that looked into educational outcomes after low-income families received vouchers to help them buy computers.
He was surprised to discover that a free computer in the house had a negative effect on academic achievement.
The scientists found “strong evidence that children in households who won a voucher received significantly lower school grades in math, English and Romanian.”
On the plus side they did have improved computer skills.
The study was slighty out of whack because the Romanian households where the test was carried out were not yet connected to the Internet.
Few kids said they used the machines for homework but they did use it daily to play games.
Other studies show that the expansion of broadband service was associated with a pronounced drop in test scores for black kids in reading and maths, but no effect on the maths scores and little on the reading scores of other students.