Regular computer users are worse at maths and reading

Wednesday January 25, 2006

CHILDREN who use computers every day do worse at maths and reading, according to research involving 100,000 youngsters.

It is feared the ever-widening availability of technology means pupils spend as much time surfing the Internet or playing games as doing their work.

The report calls into question the Government's decision to invest at least £1.7billion in its computer revolution in schools.

The study, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, concludes that it cannot be assumed 'that more computer usage is bound to be beneficial for students in all cases'.

OECD researchers analysed the achievements of around 100,000 15-year-olds in 32 countries, including the UK, taking part in the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) study in 2003.

They looked at their performance in maths, science, reading and problem-solving tests and also surveyed their computer use at home and school. The children admitted to using computers for a range of activities from playing games to searching the Internet and utilising educational software.

The researchers found that the pupils' performance in maths and reading dipped among students who used computers every day either at home or school.

Youngsters who used computers moderately - ranging from a couple of times a week to a few times a month - did better in key subjects.

The report states: 'The fact that the most frequent computer users perform lower in both mathematics and reading reinforces the message that one cannot readily assume that more computer usage is bound to be beneficial for students in all cases.' OECD analyst Claire Shewbridge said that performance may dip among children who use computers too often because 'it is a distraction for learning'.

She added: 'Moderate use is better than too much use.' Ofsted has previously warned that pupils may be failing to make progress in the three Rs because they spend too much time in front of computers at school.




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