Updated: Apr 28
Do you have a student in your life? Food for thought. This article highlights two important findings from two studies, looking at academic performance of college students who use laptops/tablets to take notes in class. The first finding is as follows:
“college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades.”
This held true even in testing at a military school, where “cadets have very strong incentives to perform well and avoid distractions, since class rank has a major impact on their job status after graduation.”
The dip in academic performance is explained with:
“The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture.”
There may be something to that. From personal experience, I certainly feel like handwritten notes allow me to absorb the material better. But there is an elephant in the room the researchers are out of their depth in identifying: electromagnetic fields. Tablets and laptops emit high amounts of electric/magnetic fields from the battery or being plugged in, as well as radiofrequency radiation from the WiFi, Bluetooth, and other communication antennae.
Do these fields have effects on us? Yes, since our bodies have an intrinsic DC electric current (see the work of Dr. Robert O. Becker for more info) that drives repair, growth, and communication processes. Why do cardiologists measure your heart health via EKG, and why do neurologists measure your brain function via EEG? It’s because we are electromagnetic beings and EKG/EEG devices are designed to measure our organs’ voltage. It is a logical conclusion that radiation of fields from our devices (which are typically many-fold stronger than our own internal signals) can be disruptive to us. Just envision a four-year old jumping and playing across the air traffic control panel at your local airport to get an idea of the chaos EMFs cause in our cells. There are many studies identifying various biological effects, with the Bioinitiative Report being a good place to start reading. Here is a study specific to cognitive function with exposure to microwave radiation.
The second study in this article lends credence to my point about EMFs. The researchers looked at effects upon students not using a laptop or tablet, but those nearby to students who were. They found that the:
“learning of students seated near the laptop users were also negatively affected.”
If you consider electromagnetic radiation shooting off in all directions from a laptop (like a tesla coil), it is no stretch of the imagination to understand how someone using a laptop a few seats down the row could affect you.
In our modern world, our classrooms at all levels of the education system are being filled with electromagnetic fields, most prominently from the inclusion of devices with screens, but also from the WiFi infrastructure. Heck, my daughter even has a teacher with an Amazon Alexa in the classroom. In our quest for better academic performance, and in a country where Industry constantly pushes new technology upon us without premarket testing or use of the precautionary principle, are we really travelling in the right direction?
I’d say not. If this article resonates with you, please begin the conversation with your student, and the teachers and administrators at their schools. It’s the only way to bring awareness and change. Some questions to ask: How often do students use computers? Is the WiFi able to be turned off when not in use? Do they fall back on the FCC guidelines about electromagnetic radiation that is decades old and outdated? Do they defend the use of WiFi on grounds that their manufacturer has provided them assurances the installed hardware is safe? Even if they don't believe EMFs to be a risk to students, the findings of the studies in this article should give them pause to consider a different perspective on technology and our young people’s academics.