When President Obama warned Hampton University's graduating class that gadgets such as the beloved iPad are blunting America's education, fanboys and bloggers heard a BlackBerry-toting, Facebook page-having, YouTube-addressing hypocrite growling "gadgets baaaad!" What they didn't see -- mostly because nothing kills a commencement speech quite like a PowerPoint presentation -- were the numbers and nuance underlying Obama's argument.
According to a one-year survey released earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American children ages 8 to 18 are spending more than seven and a half hours consuming media through electronic devices. That's up from six and a half hours five years ago. But that's misleading because multitasking crams nearly 11 hours worth of media into that seven and a half hours. Among the heaviest users, who consumed 16 hours of media a day, 47% had grades of C or lower and reported boredom or trouble at school, compared to 23% of those who consumed three hours or fewer.
Devices like the iPad have the potential to enhance education -- Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa., and George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., will be giving them to incoming students - but, right now, they're not living up to it. Here are four examples of how technology has excelled in turning information into distraction: