Pupils make more progress in 3Rs 'without aid of computers'
Here's an interesting reference to a study of test results in UK schools and computer use that points to the fact that students who make more use of the computer do worse in tests. I love this stuff.... Why exactly do they do worse? If they're spending their time on the computer playing games (not educational games), the effect is pretty much the same as watching TV in the sense that they're being distracted from actually doing their homework.
It is possible to make effective use of the television for educational purposes. There are educational programs and schools make use of televisions and videotapes on a regular basis to supplement textbooks. The computer isn't much different. It is possible to use a computer and educational software to supplement more traditional form of instruction, yet it is also very likely that kids will turn on the computer to play games.
I don't quite get what the research question was. Would you rather ask: "Do kids watching more TV have better test scores?" or "What kind of utilization of the TV results in improvements in test scores?"
Our experience tells us that extensive TV watching is an obvious distraction from homework and most likely to result in lower test scores. Though the clear relationship behind that statement is between the amount of homework and test results. TV isn't the only thing that can distract kids from doing their homework.
Why should we bother asking whether the amount of computer use is related to test scores? I don't care how many hours my kids are using the computers. I do care how many hours they're on the computer playing games vs. using the computer to do research for an assignment on the Internet. I also think there's much more to using a computer for educational purposes than browsing the Internet.
As for educational software, my experience has been that while they may be okay to practice an already acquired skill, they are not going to teach your kid anything new. That's not to say that all educational software is useless and it could be that when used effectively and integrated within the curriculum, some educational software is exactly what is needed to reinforce skills taught in the classroom.