Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today's Classroom

By Timothy Smithee

Classroom computers do not always improve learning.
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Computers, tablets, smartphones and ebooks allow fast, easy and inexpensive access to information resources. These resources can engage the user through interactivity and make it easy to process, analyze and share information of all kinds. Despite the benefits that can arise from integrating technology and computers into the classroom, there is also evidence from several studies there are significant negative effects from technology in the classroom.


Equipping a classroom with computers or supplying the entire student body with laptops is a significant cost for any school. In addition to the initial purchase costs, there are costs for maintaining networks, maintaining the computers and routinely upgrading the hardware and software. Though "bring your own device" policies may relieve the school of some of these costs, the policies shift to students and their families, who may not be able to afford the hardware and software.

Electronic textbooks may not be significantly cheaper than hard copies, and when students are responsible for purchasing them the cost may be higher as used copies cannot be bought or sold.

Diversion of Resources

Money is a significant resource used for technology, and a school may try to absorb the costs by eliminating other proven beneficial programs such as music or arts. Additionally, setting up computer labs or dedicated classrooms requires space which must be taken from other programs. Furthermore, the time taken for training teachers to keep their computer skills up to date takes time away from teachers being able to train in their subject area.

Limited Learning

Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject. Participation and enthusiasm do not necessary lead to learning.

Electronic texts can also limit learning as they are less interactive than paper textbooks. Many e-readers do not allow highlighting or notes, and even when they do, it is more complicated than marking up a paper copy. Furthermore, an electronic text can be harder to browse through than a hard copy.

Student Distraction

The technology-enabled classroom offers access to information, but it also offers many more distractions. Games on devices, text messaging, email and websites all compete for students' attention, taking that attention away from the subject on which they are supposed to be focusing. The technology can also lead to dangerous situations as students can be exposed to inappropriate online materials or predators in online places such as chat rooms.