Do Computers Make Kids Dumb?

Yes, they do, at least according to a couple of researchers. The authors of the study are Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann of Munich University, and they conducted their tests way back in 2005. In the computing world, two years can be a very long time, but although the study is older, I think it is still pretty interesting.

The study measured the performance of 100,000 pupils in 31 countries around the world and used the PISA, an international test geared for industrialized countries, to measure such things as analytical ability and general literacy. Students tested were all 15 years old, and allowances were made for social factors.

According to the results of the study, it seems that students performed significantly worse if they owned a PC at home than those students who had no PC. In contrast, students who had 500 or more books at home performed highest in the testing.

The researchers explain their results by saying that students who have computers spend more time on the computers and less time on homework. But it isn’t clear what all of these students are doing with their computers, just the fact that they have them at home. Are they mindlessly surfing silly websites, playing educational games, or doing reesearch for schoolwork? The study doesn’t say.

For years, technology advocates have made the case for computers in the classroom and that “knowledge is power.” Hardly a kindergarden, nay even a preschool, these days are without at least one computer in the classroom. As a parent, I feel some pressure to have my children be “computer literate” before they reach school age.

The study implies that children who “are awash with facts, don’t know what to do with them.” That is, creativity, imagination and critical thinking are not being encouraged by computer use. Would you agree or disagree? Are we shoving facts down our children’s throats to the detriment of their problem-solving skills?

Recently, I posted an article about an American-based study that found that video game playing affects schoolwork. It has sparked an interesting debate, and I would love to hear your opinions.

Mary Ann Romans also writes for the Frugal Living Blog here at, where she shares money saving tips for today’s families.

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT or visit her personal blog