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Is Technology Good or Bad for Us? (Part Four)

This is part four in a blog series I started last week on technology and culture. I’d love to hear your perspective and observations—what do you see happening in our culture as a result of new technology? Let me continue my thoughts here.

Sometimes, technology can solve problems better than ever before. For example, when faculty and staff at Conlee Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico started having students do five minutes of “Just Dance,” (an active video game for Nintendo’s Wii), at the start of each new day, they noticed a trend: tardiness went down. Kids began getting to school on time. What’s more, they got some exercise every day playing the game. Students love it. They’re now engaged. Not bad.

According to reporter, Nanci Hellmich, “the dance activity is broadcast into classrooms that have TV monitors. The school was inspired to try this idea by researchers at New Mexico State University who are investigating the use of active video games as part of an obesity prevention project.” Now, researchers are looking into the use of games in P.E. classes and to see whether doing an active video game before spelling or math tests improves performance. In other regions, similar projects are taking place. “Dance, Dance Revolution” is improving health and fitness in overweight kids during school time. In West Virginia, “DDR” is available in high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Most everyone seems to like it. Kids who used to stand along the walls at the high school dance are now involved; and, they are getting fit at the same time. I love it.

Take the “Smartphone” for example. It is a handheld device that’s simple to use and engages kids in their own learning process, at their own speed. What’s more, teachers can track the progress of each student electronically. Anya Kamenetz continues, “For children born in the past decade, the transformative potential of these new devices is just beginning to be felt. New studies and pilot projects show smartphones can actually make kids smarter.”

It seems to me we have three options when it comes to technology:

  1. Isolation – We pull back and avoid it altogether believing it’s evil.
  2. Saturation – We take no stand and allow ourselves to be engulfed in it.
  3. Interpretation – We use the technology for redemptive purposes.

What do you think?  Do you see bad or good in technology?


Click here to check out Part 5 of this blog series.


  1. Guest on October 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I’ve just read all four blogs on technology. You’ve made it clear that technology can be positive or negative, but from the blogs, I’ve only heard the positive aspect being articulated. It sounds as if you’re fully defending technology, or perhaps taking a stance against those who harp on the negative side. While I completely agree with your conclusion that technology is what we make of it, my question is…if you believe it can be both positive and negative, what do you see as negative?

    • Tim Elmore on October 11, 2011 at 11:36 pm

      Great point! I’m hoping that the question gets people to think. There’s no shortage of examples of the negative impacts of technology – shortened attention spans, lack of emotional intelligence, obesity from sedentary lifestyles watching a screen, reduced empathy, etc. I’ve chosen to focus on highlighting primarily positive examples in this series in order to remind all of us that technology really is what we make of it. I hope that as each of us wrestles with the questions about our relationship with technology, that we’ll make an intentional choice to use it to bring out the best, rather than the worst.

  2. Sjacques on October 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I am all for using technology in the classroom. I think that it is a powerful engagement tool that, if ignored, could be detrimental. I’m a firm believer in the phrase “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.”

    Still, I think we need to teach technology etiquette. Students are so connected that they have a hard time disengaging with someone who is “digitally present” for someone who is physically present. My sister is in her mid-twenties and while we don’t get together often, I can’t remember a time when she didn’t pull out her phone at the dinner table because she got a call or text.

    Even when they don’t mean to, students give the appearance of distraction. The simple act of checking your phone for the time could be misinterpreted as though you’ve got something better to do.

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Is Technology Good or Bad for Us? (Part Four)