By Julia Hahn
Nowadays, technology truly seems to be everywhere. For the district of Auburn in Maine this is especially the case. Last week the district approved a $200,000 pilot program to buy 285 iPad 2 tablets for the kindergartners of the town. "What we're seeing is that this is an essential tool even more important than a book," said school superintendent Tom Morrill, as quoted from the Huffington Post. "It's a learning tool they need to have." The superintendent then went on to say that he would try to get grants and donations to fund the program.
The only question left is this: Why on Earth would a bunch of five-year-olds need to be surrounded by iPads in their classroom all day? And how could anyone think that an iPad is a more essential tool for kindergarteners to have than a book? The answer could be coming from the persistent need of our society to be constantly "plugged in" to some form of technology. In just walking down the street you can see tons of people with their heads down while they're surfing the Internet, browsing Facebook, Tweeting, or texting. But do we really need to be exposing our children at such a young age to this kind of technology? My answer is no.
One of the main purposes of kindergarten is for children to learn how to cooperate and interact with other people. This is one of the first opportunities a child has to socially interact with people outside of their family, and this is an important skill to have in life. If a child were to be dissuaded from learning this skill then there could be some serious setbacks during his or her development. It's unhealthy for a child to not be involved with the, group seeing as a huge part of life is all about learning how to behave in a group. We all remember that really awkward kid in elementary school who wouldn't talk to anyone and just mindlessly played on his GameBoy, right? Well to have this new "learning tool" at such an early level would be creating a whole generation of that particular kind of kid. He that was probably also the kid who got held back once or twice. That doesn't sound like a very appealing culture to me. We wouldn't be creating geniuses; we would be creating class dunces.
It is true that some individuals tend to be socially awkward anyway, but I think few would argue that even the socially awkward don't have their own group of friends they hang out with. Having children learn at a very young age that socializing with other children is unnecessary would make sure that even the most basic kind of bonding would rarely take place. Psychologists and even our own parents are seeing what this kind of technology is doing to us, and they're scared that we're becoming de-socialized. People who break off engagements over Facebook? Why would we want our children to start off with this kind of behavior?
The iPad being a learning tool that is more important than a book is just an absurd thought in itself. The processing of learning how to use an iPad or any of the 21st century technology is probably one of the easiest things a person can do in his or her everyday life. A child will pick up any kind of iPad or cell phone and learn how to use it within minutes. A book, however, is something that takes skill to learn how to use, and it allows a child's brain to really develop.
The bottom line is this; having iPads for kindergarteners is superfluous. If America is supposed to be trying to cut back in spending, what business does this district having buying this kind of unnecessary technology?