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Modern Parenthood

iPads and YouTube: Are digital tools in classrooms a student asset or distraction?

Tablets and cell phones in the classroom could be changing students' attention spans, but long-term studies have yet to prove the two are linked.

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For Finding No. 1, Common Sense reports, “When asked about a range of specific academic skills, teachers are much more likely to say entertainment media have hurt rather than helped those skills.”

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Guest Blogger

Anne Collier is editor of and co-director of, a Web-based interactive forum and information site for teens, parents, educators, and everybody interested in the impact of the social Web on youth and vice versa. She lives in Northern California and has two sons.

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Virtually all media were included in the study’s definition of the term – including apps, computer programs, social network sites, videos, and texting. Like you, probably, I use all of those in my work. Certainly sometimes for entertainment too, but how is it respectful to assume the same media that is a blend of work and play for adults is just entertainment for youth? A past much-publicized study of theirs represented children largely as media "consumers."

Some improvements actually cited. And credit goes to teachers who saw positive signs amid the “entertainment media” use.

The Times reported that “the surveys include some findings that appear contradictory. In the Common Sense report, for instance, some teachers said that even as they saw attention spans wane, students were improving in subjects like math, science and reading,” the Times reported.

So there we have plenty on teachers’ views. Clearly we need more research on students.’ I hope that’s in the works.


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