/ Parenting, Technology

Are children too dependent on technology?

Childrens tablets

Love it or hate it, but technology has become an essential feature of everyday life. But is it wise for this dependency extend to kids too?

We recently published a conversation on what future smartphone features you’d like to see, when an unexpected but interesting debate began to emerge. Ian started it off:

‘We’re inexorably moving towards a future in which we will become not simply dependent upon but almost certainly biologically linked to our mobile devices. It’s the logical next step, really. All that fiddling around to see the screen when it could be projected onto your retinas and overlaid with your real-time experience will become a thing of the past, regarded as quaint and in the same way we look back at early TVs with only four or five channels. We live in a time when we all need continuous social contact and when our tolerance for delay has become severely diminished.’

Computer kids

Arguably, technology has become effective in opening access to information and broadening our communications tools. So it’s no surprise really that technology has worked it’s way in to the classroom.

In school I had computer lessons on a big boxy desktop PC, but now my younger cousins are working off of tablets. To be honest, I’m a bit jealous of that – I wish I had a tablet in school.

But as Duncan explains, there are potential pitfalls to exposing children to advanced technology like this at such a young age:

‘The problem is young people are now being provided with tablets etc in schools under the pretext that “it will make them more computer literate”. But in actual fact their young brains will be programmed to accept that electronic control and electronic information is normal instead of human interaction by their teachers to teach them real life experience because most of their teachers are “internet ready” and have not experienced all of life’s problems but live in a semi-virtual word already.’

Advancement of technology

So are we just creating generations of technology dependent drones? Or is this just an example of the advancement of our education, as Wavechange points out:

‘Maybe we should not have given children books, pencils and paper, never mind let them loose on computers or phones. If they have something that demands a telephone call they could be allowed to use their parents’ landline. I find it interesting that watching films, TV and sport are widely regarded as respectable activities but more recent technology usually comes in for criticism.’

What do you think, are we being too critical or rightly sceptical? Should children be using new technology?


Techology inexorably advances and chioldren in particular need to keep up – it will impact their working lives as well as their personal ones. So whether or not we like books, tv, computers, games consoles, mobile phones, iPads or whatever they are all here to stay and we all need to make the best of them, not bury our heads in the sand. You ignore “progress” at your peril. Even your new car needs a kind of technical literacy.


I have to disagree with malcolm r as there seems to be a complete failure to realise that we can, and do, create machines that we never master and at the same time fail to realise the shortcomings. Teaching children to engage solely or predominantly through machines and that this will solve their future is as laughable as telling loads of pupils that going to University would guarantee a good job.

What I believe is being lost is the time that people traditionally had to think and reflect – this has become occupied with multiple trivial distractions.

Quality of thought and analytical powers seems to be declining judging by a US surveys of students. As the US is generally further advanced in technology in teaching by introducing tablets and laptops etc this maybe a warning :

“” As Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people. But do we really have reason for such pride? According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency. Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually. So what does this say about us?

Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid. Our education system is an abysmal failure, and our young people spend most of their free time staring at the television, their computers or their mobile devices. And until we are honest with ourselves about this, our intellectual decline is going to get even worse.

According to this new report from the Educational Testing Service, at this point American Millennials that have a four year college degree are essentially on the same intellectual level as young adults in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands that only have a high school degree…

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.

The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

How in the world is that possible? I can tell you how that is possible – our colleges are a joke. But more on that in a moment.

Out of 22 countries, the report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency. We were also dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency…

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

It is in this type of environment that Coca-Cola can be marketed to Americans as “a healthy snack“.
As I mentioned above, our system of education is one of the biggest culprits. From the first grade all the way through post-graduate education, the quality of education that our young people are receiving is absolutely pathetic. In a previous article, I highlighted some statistics from USA Today about the declining state of college education in America…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I have sat in many of these kinds of college courses. It doesn’t take much brain power to pass the multiple choice tests that most college professors give these days. The truth is that if you fail out of college you really, really have to try hard.

In another previous article I shared some examples of real courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…
-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?”
-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame”
-“Philosophy And Star Trek”
-“Learning From YouTube”
-“How To Watch Television”
-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!”
This is a national crisis. Parents should be screaming bloody murder about the quality of the education that their children are receiving. But because very few of them actually know what is going on, they just continue to write out huge tuition checks all the time believing that their kids are being prepared for the real world.”
The original source of this article is The Economic Collapse
Copyright © Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse, 2015


Diesel- you frequent the same US websites as me I too have read the shocking news of US high school achievers are on a level with European drop-outs due to the lack of discrimination ,the ability or even being allowed to voice an opinion that contradicts government propaganda , the downgrading of US society into a nations of consumers and yes pc gone riot . It is not made public but US defense dept are worried by the low level of US achievers and have to import from abroad especially India/Pakistan .Russia is now ahead in many areas due to their concentration on technical ability/science/maths etc . If you are honest you have to admit you cannot speak out in the US schools/Universities etc unless it is approved by BB . Every day University Professors lose their jobs because they tell the truth . But what worries me is successive UK governments have imported US methodology and philosophy (if you can call it one ) and we are now well into being dumbed down -well young people . Where is the technical/mechanical/electrical teaching -how to look at a circuit and build a system using physical parts or mechanical stripping down a car engine and rebuilding it ? No its boys should learn to cook etc why nowadays ?? when a good microwave can heat up a processed meal , never before in the US (and here ) have so many young men refuse to marry and go looking abroad for females -check out the figures supplied by the US government do they expect male/female to morph into one sex in body and mind ? if so the psychiatric hospitals are going to be very busy just look at the suicide rate in this country for young people hidden by HMG . This country is going down the tubes because of this new conformity.


Are you saying, Diesel and Duncan, that all this is because children are using tablets and smart phones?

The problem as I see it that they are getting further ahead of their teachers and parents but I don’t think holding children back is the way forward.

It is arguable that the internet, under competent teacher guidance, might project better values and aspirational images of better behaviours than those offered by their parents. Handling that is the tricky bit.


The problem is John you are presenting a stylised and government/media inspired idealised version of —The Future Of Our Young in this “Great and Wonderful” country -part 1 and 2 now showing ,not at a movie house near you but at any school near you. Its all aimed towards consumerism and BB not improving the intelligence of our young to think unique thought ,to be trail blazers ,innovators not in banks /service industry but in science-engineering etc . Many cases its BB supplies the tablets etc to the schools (for a tax deduction of coarse ) and to condition young people into the virtual world of make believe and accepting sales lies as the truth . While BB-aka the Government achieves its aim –get, em into debt when young and we have, em for life –not in debt ?? –outcast – weird- non-conformist etc . This country isnt interested in heavy industry as it give the 99 % power ,no Service industry UK suites the government well . Look how hard it is in the UK websites to find any real info your blocked or must invoke the Freedom of Information Act to get the Truth, and even then its doctored ,in the “interests of “National Security ” of course (not ! ) -in the interests of BB of coarse . While visions of LIght and “Good Cheer ” is presented the government now has a bill in the reading to officially scoop up all our Internet browsing ,not just the so called “terrorists ” but every man/woman /child in this country . I say officially as they are already doing it unofficially –all in the interests of “”protecting us “” . I wouldnt mind it so much if they admitted it but to look you in the eye and lie their heads off is the moral standard of this new society. Even Win 10 ,is a total spy network ,MS were forced ,kicking and struggling to officially admit it . My aim is to open the eyes of young people to reality not some US cartoon inspired vision of reality . Conditioned -brainwashed-controlled etc but as Kenny Everett used to say –all done in the best possible taste .


Here is the report referred to in Dieseltaylor’s post: https://www.ets.org/s/research/30079/asc-millennials-and-the-future.pdf I suggest that you form your own opinion rather than that of Michael Snyder.

Though I believe that new technology used appropriately is of benefit, there is a danger that we learn little about a lot and do not appreciate our limitations. Which? Conversation provides plenty of examples of people posting about subjects that know little about. Just because they have read something on Wikipedia or in some online publication, they assume that they are in a position to make informed comment – which must be very frustrating for those that do.

I share Duncan’s concern about increasing consumerism and I am increasingly concerned about the increasing involvement of business in education at all levels.


“Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) claims that ETS is violating its non-profit status through excessive profits, executive compensation, and governing board member pay (which the IRS specifically advises against[48]). AETR further claims that ETS is acting unethically by selling test preparation materials, directly lobbying legislators and government officials, and refusing to acknowledge test-taker rights. It also criticises ETS for forcing GRE test-takers to participate in research experiments during the actual exam.[49] It has also come under criticism for paying its part-time employees, most of whom are drawn from the less than 10% of the U.S. population with graduate degrees, a modest $15 an hour (with no benefits), to grade the essay component of their standardized exams.

In 2014 the BBC reported that the Home Office has suspended English language tests run by ETS after a BBC investigation uncovered systematic fraud in the student visa system. Secret filming of government-approved English exams needed for a visa showed entire rooms of candidates having the tests faked for them [50] ” Wikipedia

A charity/non-profit gone very wrong. Still if our Govt. employs them they cannot be all bad can they ..?


My experience is that many young children now have easy access to tablets and/or fones. Their preferred uses of them seem to playing silly games and watching you tube videos of Taylor Swift.

Older children (and young adults) then seem to move on to an obsession with social networking and internet news feeds.

If they waste all their school days on these activities they will quite likely end up as thick as two short planks. With good fortune, they will still be able to get jobs stacking the shelves at Tesco or working on building sites.

But it is not all doom and gloom. As judged by some of the placement students and graduates that I’ve worked with recently, those who receive appropriate educational oversight, from well educated, caring and conscientious parents and teachers are still ending up all right.

Actually, I think most of the games played on tablets are not much more sophisticated than the kind of games that could be played on older PCs and consoles. So I doubt that the availability of current technology is really a game-changer (oh dear!) in terms of how kids can spend their time.

If we are looking to either avoid or remedy shortfalls in educational achievements, then I think we need to be looking elsewhere.


I agree with you Derek. When I was at junior school we played silly games and and later on went round bus garages writing down bus numbers, and then train numbers while catching colds standing on the end of railway platforms. Perhaps the main difference is that today’s activities are more inwardly orientated rather than collective and sociable. People we know who have young children take their responsibility seriously to bring them up in a rounded way with plenty of real social interaction, sensible learning, and active pursuits. It would be good if more could do that but life was ever thus. Children still have hobbies, and do things in and out of the home, and luckily there are still plenty of good career opportunities available for young people to aspire to, especially in big business, commerce, construction, manufacturing, engineering, architecture and design, the law, finance, medicine, education, the countryside and heritage, the media, and entertainment.


Perhaps we should ask ‘What is technology?’. In its domestic form, technology is simply access to information. Knowledge empowers, so access to that knowledge is surely desirable. There’s another aspect: many children (and adults) enjoy magic, and what many ‘phones and tablets do now is almost indistinguishable from magic. So is this bad?

Well, no it isn’t. It’s no worse than a felling axe, or bow saw: both are perfectly safe until wielded by an aspiring psychopath. And it’s arrant nonsense to point to research done by the largely discredited Educational Testing Service as somehow showing a marked decline in the intellect of young Americans. Problems administering England’s national tests in 2008 by ETS Europe were the subject of thousands of complaints recorded by the Times Educational Supplement. Their operations were also described as a “shambles” in the UK Parliament, where a financial penalty was called for. Complaints included papers not being marked properly, or not being marked at all[43] and papers being sent to the wrong schools or lost completely. I suspect it’s unwise to place any reliance on ‘research’ done by them.

The US intellect levels remain remarkably consistent according to various objective studies and assessments and almost all Psychologists. I doubt they’d have 353 Nobels to show if they were all thick.

But in terms of British Education (which is where this seems to have wandered) there’s a massive range in quality. Instead, however, of blaming the Government, mythical cabals and plots, let’s look at what the reality is. Good teachers (there are many) can change lives. They can develop originality, the desire to discover and the thirst for knowledge. Poor teachers (and there are quite a few) can crush aspiration, deter children from studying and demoralise. But the most potent force behind a child’s development is the parent. All the available research indicates that they – and they alone – lay the foundations for the child’s future. It’s only later they become acquainted with technology and, if they’ve been properly nurtured during the first four formative years, they adapt to technology like any other aspect of life. Today’s 10 years olds will never know a world in which information wasn’t available at the touch of a button, where games were so lifelike they still take your breath away and where – in the very, very near future – they can’t experience an entire world of their own.

I believe this topic is based on the wrong premise and, since by Lauren’s admission I started it, I’m reminding folk of the gist of what I was saying.

We are, as a society, evolving. Technology (led, in part, by consumerism, admittedly) is changing the ways in which we interact. The question we should be asking is whether that interactive process is good or bad for children. Malcolm, in fact, was absolutely right with his first post: the tech is here to stay and itself is evolving rapidly. What we ought to be doing is not blaming it for all the ills of society but instead teaching children to embrace it intelligently, to use it to further comprehend what is a complex world. And that has to be good.


” We are, as a society, evolving. Technology (led, in part, by consumerism, admittedly) is changing the ways in which we interact. The question we should be asking is whether that interactive process is good or bad for children. Malcolm, in fact, was absolutely right with his first post: the tech is here to stay and itself is evolving rapidly. What we ought to be doing is not blaming it for all the ills of society but instead teaching children to embrace it intelligently, to use it to further comprehend what is a complex world. And that has to be good.”

I find Ian’s message inspirational – apart from I think it is a pipedream. I also do not think anyone has blamed “all the ills of society” on technology in this thread. Dr Pangloss would approve that it is the possible future.

By his attack on ETS Ian has demonstrated how easy it is to apparently find bad information on the Web. How one is going to ensure that only acceptable information is found I know not.

Ian also mentions the number of Nobel prizes and equates this to the US education system. This is in itself misleading as many of the Nobel prizes are awarded to people taking US citizenship who were educated elsewhere. Roughly 96 of the 357 being non-natives. The UK’s 118 Nobel prizes as a function of population is a higher rate – and I daresay there are other countries better still. And of course the US has a rather larger population than most countries.

We also have to take into account the salaries available in rich countries and the research budgets which might logically think that this will be rewarded by superior results. Brain-drain anyone?

Ian asks what is bad about technology. My belief that humans are slightly well developed mammals over-lying a fairly primitive sub-conscious that is driven by conservation of energy , taking food when available, sex, emotion, and not thinking too deeply.

The more one panders to these aspects of basic human nature – so easily done by video and audio – and leave comparatively little time left to consider more thoughtful pursuits. I am not saying that we will not have a minority of thoughtful people and inventors. Simply we will have a lot less of them than we might have had.

And of course we will have a non-