Technology driven learning poses concerns regarding student health, education


Photos by Jankhna Sura

Jankhna Sura, Editorials Editor

Public schools around North Carolina have strict, low budgets that limit the amount of tangible resources students are able to use, including textbooks and literature. Due to the lack of materials distributed around schools, students have moved to digital methods of learning that may seem straightforward enough, but produce negative effects on students. While technology-based learning may have a positive financial and environmental impact, schools should pursue standard on paper learning techniques to ensure the best for students.

Repeated use of technological appliances by students, which may occur from staring at pages of online textbooks for hours, could result in computer related eye strain known as computer vision syndrome. This condition results from not looking away from screens for long periods of time, not blinking as often, inadequate lighting and not allowing one’s eyes to rest. Symptoms including headaches, fatigue, errors in work, temporary blurred vision and dry eyes also appear frequently, which can hinder a student’s performance.

In addition to causing strain on the eyes, the usage of computers for long periods affects a student’s quality of sleep as “the blue light of the screen may suppress the body’s production of melatonin,” as stated by USKG Insights, thus disturbing one’s sleep. These symptoms, while temporary, could lead to future complications as well as injuries that may result from neck and shoulder strains, an effect of leaning down to view a screen.

Students also perform better in tests of comprehension after reading from paper-based products rather than digitally. According to UKSG Insights, in a study conducted by Kretzschmar, a sample of tenth graders was instructed to read a text and was split into two groups: those reading it in print and those reading it from a PDF on a computer. These students were administered a test afterwards and it was found that reading comprehension scores were higher from students who read the text on paper. It was concluded that since paper enabled students to engage with the material, it allowed them to recall key points and minor details more vividly as well as improving their comprehension.

Online resources for school materials additionally leave students prone to distractions and could contribute to on-screen addictions. In a poll conducted by Common Sense Media, it was found that 50 percent of teens are addicted to their phones; in the technology dominated world that students live in, it is almost guaranteed that a student will open a computer and end up on something that was not his or her original task. A textbook cannot display texts or allow a person to check Twitter, but a computer can, and even the most academically inclined student may fall victim to these urges. By sticking to textbooks and written assignments, these distractions and addictions of technology can be set aside allowing for students to tentatively focus on the task at hand.

Furthermore, the conversion to digital based learning does not account for students who do not have adequate technology at home to access online sources. This can put a strain on students as they may have to constantly rely on public libraries, technology at school and may not be able to complete something simply because they do not have the resources to. Ensuring that textbooks and written devices stay in school would support students that cannot afford or access technology without making them feel isolated from their more privileged peers.

While school budgets are low, ensuring that textbooks remain an integral part of a student’s education is crucial to their health and learning. As society plunges further into digital learning methods, keeping on paper materials as an option will establish a fair, reliable and healthy system of teaching and learning.