PC or not PC?

Maya Driver

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When I was a child my school owned one computer, a BBC, and children would go in pairs to use the old machine. It was really exciting, although I'm not sure exactly how much educational value it provided. Then when I was a bit older my school had a dedicated IT room where we woud have an hour lesson each week using typing programmes, making the PCs nothing more than a glorified typewriter. These days of course, schools have rooms full of networked PCs with 24-hour access to the internet and all the useful educational software you can shake a stick at. In fact, the technological revolution has extended so far to kids these days that many people believe every child deserves a laptop of their own to do their schoolwork on. Is this really such a great idea?

Obviously there are many merits to having a computer at your disposal all the time. Children can use the internet for research, they can use word processors for typing up homework and essays, and becoming computer literate will stand them in good stead for their future careers. But there are also negatives about supplying children with their own computers, such as internet safety. If a child is online all the time unsupervised, who knows with what sort of people they may end up chatting. Also, using word processing software does not encourage learning how to spell, and having a calculator readily available means the children won't need to learn basic arithmetic.

While I can see the pros of schoolchildren having their own laptops, I also wonder how schools expect children to use the computers. If children are in class using their laptops, what's to stop them surreptitiously playing games, emailing friends or looking at uneducational things online. Of course you can block certain websites and strip down the computer's software to the necessities but children are becoming increasingly more tech savvy and will surely learn ways around these obstacles.

But perhaps the pros do outweight the cons in this case. Children around the world are already benefitting from having a laptop each and if the costs can be met, it could very well be the status quo in the UK before long. Do you think children should have computers in school? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.