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Back to School – Which Side of the Electronic Fence are You On?

August 11, 2015 |

If you have kids in grades K-12, you may be familiar with the argument for tablets to replace textbooks. In fact, your child’s school may have already switched over. While, personally, I’m nostalgic for the days I sat with my grandmother wrapping my textbooks in brown paper bags, there are a lot of benefits to take the electronic plunge. Though, I’m sure, Houghton Mifflin may think differently. Let’s check out some of the pros and cons to schools entering the digital age.

Pro: Ditch the back pain.
One of the strongest memories I have of middle school is lugging somewhere between 6 and 8 heavy textbooks to and from school. Whether I just carried them, or threw them in a book bag, I remember thinking that there must be a better way. And even at that young age, I knew all of that weight couldn’t be good for my developing back.

Tablets can hold approximately 3,500 books and weigh only a fraction of one textbook. That certainly makes the walk to school a bit easier!

Con: You don’t hear of textbooks being stolen, but tablets, yes.
In big cities, tablet related robberies account for up to 50% of thefts. Replacing a tablet is certainly more expensive than replacing a textbook, and the risk of losing personal information comes into play.

Pro: Save the trees!
Using tablets in the classroom lowers the need for print outs, keeping some trees planted happily in their forest-y homes. Fun fact: A school with 100 teachers uses on average 250,000 pieces of paper annually. Even a small reduction in that number would be massive!

Con: You may read slower and remember less.
Studies show that the brain interprets printed and digital text differently. This can cause people to read digital text 20-30% slower than print. Plus, digital text can overwork the brain, lowering the brain’s ability to process and store the information.

Pro: Your child could end up reading a lot more.
LearnStuff notes that the average tablet-owning US student reads 24 books per year on a tablet compared with 15 in print for those who do not own a tablet. So, they may be reading slower, but looks like they’re reading much more.

Con: Printed books don’t freeze or run out of battery life.
How many times have you really needed your phone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, or other electronic device just to find that the battery is dead? Printed books are certainly more reliable. And hey, there’s something about the smell of a printed book that is just magical. I haven’t caught myself sniffing my e-reader before beginning a book. You know, it’s the little things.

These are just a few of the reasons for and against the implementation of e-readers in the school system. What are your thoughts on the topic? Why do you believe they should or should not bring tablets into the classroom?

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