Finding a Balance with Technology in the Classroom

DES MOINES, Iowa – Almost a year ago recommendations for how much “screen-time” a child views changed.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommendations include:

  • Children 0-18 months: avoid screens, unless it is used for video chatting.
  • Children 18-24 months: parents can show a little of screen time while with child to help him or her understand what they’re seeing.
  • Children 2-5 years: limit to one hour per day of screen time.
  • Children 6+ years: place limits on-screen time and designate “media-free” time as well.

When it comes to teaching, children are exposed to technology as early as Kindergarten.

Teachers are showing children to use computers, tablets, etc. as a tool and not a toy.

River Woods Elementary School First Grade Teacher Nadia Drake said she uses computers as a lesson tool.

“Reading based program that is tailored to their instruction. They might be at a lower level, and they’re getting a computer-based program that’s teaching them letters, sound, or they could be at a higher level that could be teaching them different reading strategies, working with comprehension. It’s kind of based upon where they’re at, at their level,” Drake said.

Des Moines Public Schools are almost one-to-one, meaning every student gets an assigned computer in the classroom.

Steven Warren is a parent and said his children like having Chromebooks.

“My kids have had Chromebooks for about four years now, and they are helpful for letting them get their homework done and great for when they need help with a paper or other course,” Warren said.

While Chris Grundler is also a parent and disagrees.

“It’s ridiculous. My daughter is in kindergarten and they use iPads. By middle school they all have laptops issued to them. My career is IT related and I don’t see any benefit starting them this young. Every study you see says to limit screen time, and what are we doing educationally? Adding more screen time. My daughter gets books read to her by a smart board in KG. About puked when I found that out. Our education system is seriously flawed,” Grundler said.

Drake said students are on the computer three to four times a day at 15 minute intervals.

“I’ll teach a whole group lesson. They’ll hop on the computer. They’ll do again, math at their level whether it is based upon the lesson that we are on, or something lower, or something higher. So it is all tailored to where they are at,” Drake said.

Andrew Wells said, “As long as that is not the only tool kids use for learning that is great.”

Drake said she balances both traditional teaching methods as well as using technology in her classroom.