Ed Tech Trends

Study Exposes Teacher Rift on Digital Device Usage in Schools

Study Exposes Teacher Rift on Digital Device Usage in Schools 

American teachers tend to see student use of digital devices as being slightly more positive than negative. However, they also believe smartphones, tablets and computers are having a bad influence on the physical and mental health of students too.

That's the latest finding from Gallup in a web study completed by nearly 500 adults aged 18 and older who teach K-12 students.

Forty-two percent said the effects of digital devices on education was "mostly helpful"; 28 percent considered it "mostly harmful." The gap related to physical and mental health was far wider: 55 percent thought digital devices were primarily detrimental to physical health, compared to 4 percent who said the opposite; and 69 percent said the same for mental health, compared to 4 percent reporting the opposite.

Among high school teachers, specifically, a near-equal share views the impact of device usage as helpful or harmful (36 percent vs. 34 percent). However, younger teachers are more likely than older educators to take a positive outlook. Slightly more than half of those under 40 (51 percent) said devices were mostly helpful in education; just 36 percent of those over 40 said the same.

The parents of school-aged children were even more optimistic than any group of subset teachers. In a separate survey a whopping 87 percent reported that the effect of the devices would mostly helpful to their students' education; and 13 percent said it was mostly hurtful.

Gallup called the findings "potentially significant," claiming that without teacher support, technology uptake in education "won't by fully realized." The researchers' suggestion: Teachers need more training. Since digital device ownership is only expected to continue growing, the report advised, " schools must take appropriate action--including professional development programs for teachers on using digital devices in classrooms."

The report and complete findings are available on the Gallup website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.