Through our many years as vendors at homeschool conventions we saw a number of educational software-based companies start up and crash not very long afterwards. Because of lavish advertising, when these companies first appear, parents often were drawn to them. Our experience was that, as often, parents returned a year later rather disappointed, because their educational problems were still unsolved. Further, as a result of drastically reduced sales the upstart dot-com companies seemed to vanish as fast as they appeared.
Let's look at the two reasons why computer-based education is inferior to high quality godly books and workbooks. Under close examination it turns out that computer-based education is inferior—both physically and mentally.
The bottom line? If you will keep your children off computers for as long as possible (somewhere around fourth grade) you are likely to produce a far healthier child, an intellectually stronger child, a more creative child, and a holier child.
Let's face high tech facts. Of course the computer (in its multifaceted forms) is here to stay. By the time our children reach adulthood, it will have eventually absorbed even more of our children's adult and entire lives than it currently does our own. Electronic devices can totally absorb preschoolers today We may think nothing of it—but let's do stop a minute and think about it: our grandparents had an "explore-the-outdoors, climb-trees, invent-things, computer-free" childhood. They started on computers late in life and still suffer from too many electromagnetic frequency challenges to their brains, eyes and nervous systems as it IS. Imagine if all their years had been spent in front of a screen, as now is possible for the current generation! What physical effects will emerge now on children without such childhoods? Our grandparents ate freshly ground whole wheat bread, took few pharmaceutical drugs, and were exposed to almost no media. Our current generation struggles with obesity, clogged arteries, endless drugs as a solution for sad moments or fidgeting, and bloodshot eyes and nervous tics from pressing buttons on electronic devices, hours on end. And this is an improvement?!
Electromagentic frequency issues are real. Without our knowing it, they are hard on the old, but even more damaging to the young. They take a toll on an emerging developing nervous system. Already books are being written about the problem we hadn't counted on: Electromagnetic Pollution: A hidden stress to your system, by Sabina M. DeVita; Health Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation: A startling look at the effects of electropollution on your health, by Bruce Fife, N.D.; and Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn't Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, by Ann Louise Gittleman.
Physically sitting bolt upright in front of a screen for hours on end as a child is not good. It becomes addictive and soon the child has to have it or they revolt. Just witness a four-year-old when you turn the TV (etc.) off—and the computer addiction becomes far worse. Children, so trained, become unable to go outside and play. Even the desire for it vaporizes.
Now let's take a hard look at what goes on mentally. Because educational information has to be presented via a computer in such a way as to continually hook the looker, it must be visually gripping, and all the info is packaged in short flashing packets. Translation: your child becomes less and less able to think a complete thought—to see ideas in context—thoughts that actually begin somewhere and go somewhere after the screen is turned off. Now college students, so trained in their childhoods, frequently have to ask their professors to "repeat the question, please.” They are unable to track with the idea, let alone stick with it long enough to answer it.
Moreover, because the information has to be transported digitally, all of it thus transcribed is of the quick response type—no essay questions that require thinking, please—only push-button responses to limited options. Nine times out of ten, the core information is never presented in a pedagogically new, superior way that is easier to grasp. At its root it is boring—but bells and whistles and gimmicks are added to make it appear to be a superior way to learn core material. Most of the time, there is absolutely nothing new to the way in which the information is presented. Therefore, the child quickly grows bored with unremitting requests for responses that only require the trial-and-error pushing of buttons. Parents tell us they find their children slumped over the keyboard, napping, long before the lesson is finished.
Contrast that to sitting comfortably curled up on a couch or hanging upside down off an easy chair and reading a book, answering workbook questions over supper at the table, or in the back seat of the car to finish mastering that exercise while mom runs errands, or crashing on a pillow with a good book next to the fireplace—or sitting cozily under mom and dad's protective arm, hearing their warm voices, a mature running commentary over all new concepts. No, instead, the modern child must sit bolt upright like a little machine—pressing buttons without end. Relationship-based education gets replaced by interacting with machines.
Even worse, most software-based education is taught without values—at least, without the values that shape godly children. Information is consistently delivered outside of any moral context. The McGuffey Readers shaped the consciences of children during our finest hours in America. For over a century, men like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were shaped by the character training that was promulgated by those Readers. They built America on solid character. Today, America is seriously adrift—doesn't know who it is anymore, can't pay its bills, nor curb its violence in the inner cities, nor keep its babies safe from murder in the womb, nor build a vibrant mounting economy, nor keep its eyes from pornography.
Resist the temptation to allow your child to be educated in front of a screen. Stand against this media tsunami and your restraints will be rewarded by the emergence of your own, unusual, remarkable children. They will have a stronger likelihood of being healthy, intelligent, and morally beautiful, and you, as their parents, will have no regrets. Say no to videos, fantasy and unreal electronic games as recreation, too. Let your child's ONLY escape from reality be in high quality books, and you'll create wonderful bibliomaniacs. "So many books, so few years" will eventually be their cry.
Grow readers. Concentrate on wholesome books of history, biography, and how-to's for everything imaginable. Have your children learn the Bible forwards and backwards, starting with simple Bible stories. They can read through encyclopedia sets, too. Micromanage the mental diet of your child, away from any screen, and you'll simply be amazed at the outcomes. Children will be interested in butterflies and cocoons and centrifuges and atomic energy – unless they’re stolen first by fantasy, altered realities and grotesque creatures from outer space. Grow a "book-lover" and their conversations will be rich, their insights far-reaching, and their appetites for mental stimulation (which actually matters in the real world) inexhaustible.