Can a Wi-Fi School Bus Save Our Kids?

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If you want to pacify a busload of rambunctious school children, the answer is simple: give them Internet access.

The New York Times recently reported that a high school outside of Tucson, Ariz. installed Wi-Fi on one of its school buses last fall. Since then, the habits of students traveling to and from school has changed drastically. Apparently, the bus has turned into a kind of library, with students using the time to be productive… and quiet.

More from the New York Times: “[S]chool officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.”

So there you go, the Internet is good for something after all, even if most of the content online is actually junk.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but there are at least two downsides to this whole arrangement. First off, the only reason I ever finished my work the night before school was because I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish it in the morning. But the Internet Bus sounds like a haven for procrastinators. The question is, how good can the quality of students’ work be from a moving bus?

And second, shouldn’t we be encouraging kids to socialize with each other? It’s bad enough that you walk into an elevator full of adults these days and everyone is staring at their iPods. Do we really want to start teaching young people to stare at their laptops with headphones on when they are surrounded by real people they could engage with? Just a thought…

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