SAT Scores, The Future and You

Here’s something to ponder. Have we finally seen the negative impact of technology on society? Today, the College Board released the 2011 high school graduating results from the national SAT exam. The scores? Well, a drop in all three areas tested…reading, writing and math…and the overall lowest scores ever recorded.

Surprised? Not me. I have an 18 year old daughter.

My daughter is not the norm she’s the exception.  She scored above average on her SAT’s and is an honor student. But, let me tell you why.

I don’t watch television. Ever. I haven’t for decades. I was cured of it when years ago I was on assignment in Los Angeles in a furnished, rental apartment with no television.  It took me only days to realize how the quality of my life improved without one. So, when my daughter was growing up, there was mostly very little, and sometimes no, television.  I never used it to babysit her and believe me that was exhausting.  It’s a lot harder to interact with a child and fill their time with meaningful activities and conversation than it is to plop them down in front of that box (or monitor) and go your way.

As she got older, I similarly limited her exposure to computers, video games and the like.  Even after 9/11/01, when my ex-husband and I got her a cell phone at age 8 (for safety reasons) she was permitted to use it only for an emergency or the need to contact us.

Absent all that technology, she read. And then she read some more. She consumed books and I believe as a result, tested the second highest score in reading comprehension in the national GEPA’s in 8th grade.

What’s my point?

There’s an upside and a downside to everything. Technology has made the world smaller, our ability to complete things faster, and expanded the potential for any individual with a computer to learn about anything of interest. It has also made us less social, less articulate and less able to think for ourselves. Clearly, it has also made our children less able to read, understand and calculate.

Is it the only cause? Probably not. Absentee parents have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility as do pathetically inadequate public schools.  But I for one think it’s as good a time as any to ask ourselves whether we are in control of the technology and its prevalence in our lives… or whether we have abdicated responsibility for that as well and it is running us.

I hope we figure out the answer very soon… before we’re too stupid to figure it out.

P.S. My daughter is a talented creative writer at age 18 as well. But that’s no surprise, is it?

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