Are Kids Clicking Their Way to Failure?

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All computers and no play make Jack a dull boy?

So, presidential candidates, you want to spend more money on education? You won't get many arguments — as long as the cash is flowing into teachers' salaries or textbook purchases, and not into the black hole of high-tech educational tools. That's the word from the Alliance for Childhood, a consortium of early development and education experts, which issued a report Tuesday that sketches a speculative link between increasingly wired classrooms and the rising incidence of childhood obesity and social detachment.

Yes, it seems America's kids are spending far too much time in front of a screen and too little learning how to interact with other human beings. In a statement that probably left many in the high tech industry shuddering with fear, the Alliance called for a moratorium on computers in elementary school classrooms. The group calls instead on reading and creative group play to help students develop the skills they need in and out of school.

This report could send some members of congressional appropriations committees running back for their notes — to date, schools have received almost $4 billion in federal aid earmarked for computers and Internet access. No one should panic just yet, though: Conflicting studies evaluating the benefits of computers are published often. And until we reach something resembling a consensus, we'll still be a very long way from turning our G-3s into fishbowls.