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FAILURE TO CONNECT: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds -- and What We Can Do About It Paperback


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FAILURE TO CONNECT: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds -- and What We Can Do About It + Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think And What We Can Do About It + Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New edition edition (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684855399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684855394
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This important book is a welcome addition to the growing (and long overdue) debate about how much of a good thing it is to mix computers and children.

Healy is a professional educator of wide experience, and a recovering techno-fundamentalist. She is scrupulously fair about the evidence presented in various studies on the ways computers help or hinder learning, and quick to offer positive anecdotes where there are positive ones to be had. (She freely notes, for example, what a miracle computers have been for some handicapped children.) But her conclusions about the routine use of computer technology in the classroom are overwhelmingly--and persuasively--negative.

A major theme of Failure to Connect is the federal government's culpable idiocy (not her term, but she implies as much) in jumping uncritically, to the tune of $4 billion a year, on the "computer in every classroom" bandwagon. As she shows, there is scant evidence that computers teach basic skills any better than traditional methods, or that children who don't have computers are somehow "left behind." Conversely, there is abundant evidence that an uncritical infatuation with computers as an educational panacea is replacing skill building and learning with formless play while forcing art and music lessons, and in some cases math textbooks, off many school budgets.

Healy writes lucidly, neatly balancing her discussion of the issues with practical, undogmatic advice for parents and educators. A sober and sobering read about a crucial issue. --Richard Farr --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Parents and educators will want to ponder this cautionary report on the spread of child-friendly digital technologies. Although Healy (Endangered Minds), an educator and consultant, does present positive examples of how computers can enhance young students' education (citing, for example, the Internet's value as a research tool and the use of software to assist children with learning disabilities), she remains concerned about the overuse of computers at home and in school. Healy argues that parents who have been led by the computer industry to think that they should purchase PCs for their young children are unaware of possible health hazards and allow far too many hours of unsupervised game playing, which she considers no more beneficial than TV. The lack of trained teachers to work with children who have access to computers in school is, according to the author, a major problem, as is the high cost of computers, which can drain funding from other needs. Healy believes that computers cannot substitute for the learning that takes place through socialization with peers and interaction with teachers and parents who instill values, support decision-making and encourage creativity. Healy's contention that computers often fill young minds with information at the expense of teaching them how to think and feel is unlikely to dissuade many school administrators from rushing the latest computer technologies into classrooms. Either way, this carefully researched study offers ample evidence that the next generation will be plugged in and tuned out. Editor, Bob Bender; agent, Angela Miller.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I needed this book for a college course on instructional technologies.
Penny
Also, over and over computers are blamed for not only preventing learning, but physically damaging our children.
Richard Graham
Because of that, the book seems to lack the scientific rigor necessary to criticize such a polemic subject.
"dudjunq"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By David Skrbina (daves@e-mail.com) on September 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book, if for no other reason than that Healy is willing to put forward arguments (albeit imperfect ones) on the other side of the computers-in-education debate. The whole discussion has been decidedly one-sided, with, as Healy notes, most of the published material issued by people with a financial interest in promoting technology, or with some vague notions about its benefits.
As a person who grew up in the technology age, who has over 10 yrs of experience in industry, who has two young children in public schools, and who happens to be working on a Ph.D in issues of technology and society, I am direcly involved with the issues she raises. Healy's research and argumentation leave something to be desired, but her basic conclusions are correct: there is little or no justification for the use of computers or other high technology devices in schools, expecially elementary and middle schools. The other reviewers (below) who are critical of Healy are not addressing the main points: (1) there is little evidence that computer-aided instruction improves academic performance; (2) there is sufficient evidence, although no proof, that computer usage can be both physically and mentally harmful, and this justifies great caution; (3) the idea that kids need computer experience 'to get ready for the real world', or 'to be competitive', is a complete myth. Everything a child needs to learn about computers can be accomplished in the last few years of high school. Children in K-5 especially have virtually zero need for computer technology, and no one I have come across has provided arguments to the contrary.
Too many teachers and parents mindlessly follow along with the trend of computerizing our schools. In a debate dominated by one side, all opposing views are welcome. Healy provides an accessible account of the anti-technology case, and this alone makes her book well worth reading.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Julie Patrick Clark on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Do computers have a place in our homes and schools for young children? Is it wise to encourage such use by youngsters? This is a debate that is getting a lot of attention.
Jane Healy, Ph.D., has been an educator for more than 35 years, including experience as a classroom teacher, elementary school administrator, and college professor. She begins her book with a discussion of how the whole technological revolution is almost of a religious fervor. To research her book, she spent hundreds of hours visiting classrooms and homes to watch kids interact with their computers.
Healy maintains that parents who purchase software for their babies have been sold a bill of goods. She says that there is no evidence that computers and software will make kids smarter. Rather, it may be doing them more harm than good.
In Chapter One, Healy expresses concern about how technology is shaping children's growing brains, saying "The younger the mind, the more malleable it is. The younger the technology is, the more unproven it is." She believes educators - and parents - should carefully consider the potential- and irrevocable - effects of this new electronic technology.
She calls this exposing of young children- generally, babies - age seven or eight -, a "vast and optimistic experiment," and that "It is well financed and enthusiasticlly supported by major corporations, the public at large, and government officials around the world." She says that there is no proof- or even convincing evidence- that it will be successful in enriching our youngster's minds and lives, or that society will benefit and education will be permanently changed for the better.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was badly needed...Our parents, and schools, have been stumbling for years through this "digital jungle," trying to figure out what they're doing--lost that is. Healy cuts through this fog and points out how badly misused PCs are in most homes and schools--while offering helpful tips on getting them under control. She talks about the value of letting kids develop their imagination outside the computer and tv vs having them glued to a screen all the time...Yet she does find some useful uses for the computer in education, particularly for older kids who are more developed emotionally and educationally. Thisis a must read for any parent struggling with kids and computers. If you like this book be sure to check out Growing up Digital (Tapscot) and The PC Dads Guide to Becoming a Computer Smart Parent (Ivey/Bond), both providing revealing looks at the challenges of raising kids inthe Computer Age.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a parent and public librarian interested in child development I often recommend this book to the parents of young children. The frequent comments from parents, teachers, professors, children and industry experts that appear throughout each chapter add to the evidence and personal examples of the dangers of over-exposure to computers for pre-schoolers and young children.
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48 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Richard Graham on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
All right, all right. I get the point. "Computers are bad. They keep our children from learning. Yet adults keep buying them. Therefore adults are stupid." I've read almost this entire book and I am really getting the feeling that Healy is beating a dead horse - she keeps pushing the same points over and over. Her arguments have some credibility, and her examples are generally valid. However, as critical readers we need to examine her basic premises for validity. I think that her basic premises are over-stated and somewhat simplistic.
Although she wavers a bit, the basic premise of "Failure to Connect" is a genuine concern that computers have become an integral part of children's education without regard for their usefulness, educational value, or potential harm to children. These are real concerns. However she addresses these concerns anecdotally, rather than citing real vigorous research. This book is mainly a string of stories of her visits to this school and that school (lots of tax-deductible traveling - even to Hawaii!) with stories of little Susie or Brandon not learning from a computer, while clueless teachers, administrators, and parents hover nearby. Any effective software, or research showing benefits of computer-aided learning, is dismissed as "from the software companies". However, I had a tough time finding many references to valid academic research.
Also, over and over computers are blamed for not only preventing learning, but physically damaging our children. For example, in Chapter 4 "Computers and Our Children's Health" she bemoans the physical damage computers do to our children, while longing for the good old days of book-learning. However, couldn't the same arguments be made that reading books physically damages our children?
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