In today’s world everything seems to be constantly advancing forward. From transportation methods to computers, tablets and cellular devices it is clear that technology is only going to continue to advance, but when it comes to the effect technology has on youth education, there may be a need for emphasis on the impact constant electronic distraction can have on a student’s academic future.
In Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, the writer points out that Vishal Singh, 17, spent his seventh grade year sitting in front of a new computer screen given to him after his mother returned to work and that a slow decline in his academic career began then. Vishal realized, “There were choices, [and] homework wasn’t the only option.” The article also claims that there is scientific research explaining why students are more inclined to use electronics for entertainment versus studying. “…Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University who led some of the research, said that when adults were not supervising computer use, children are left to their own devices, and the impetus isn’t to do homework but play around,” further proving that students need to be monitored by parents when using computers to study to prevent distractions from happening.
The article also shines light on the fact that the use of electronics is different for each individual, thus creating new social types amongst groups. “Social butterflies tend to be heavy texters and Facebook users. Students who are less social might escape into games, while drifters or those prone to procrastination, like Vishal, might surf the Web or watch videos,” says Woodside High School Principal Mr. Reilly. Thus, proving that regardless of the social tendencies of the individual, electronics are still being used to unintentionally distract.
For example, the article uses student Allison Miller’s 27,000 monthly texts as an example of extreme cellular use by today’s students. She “…Carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying,” (Growing Up Digital). Allison also blames constant multitasking as the reason for the three B’s on her most recent progress report. “I’ll be reading a book for homework and I’ll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book,” says Allison, “pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework.” This level of electronic addiction poses a threat to grades, prioritizing, etc., and the 3-4 years spent in high school are the years when developing students learn how to balance those things.
Another example brought up by the author is that the brains of today’s youth are constantly being stimulated and don’t have much downtime. “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body, [and] kids are in a constant mode of stimulation,” says Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. Ritch also states that the key is to approach electronic use in moderation and to allow the brain time to rest and properly process information, and when it comes to electronic use, the key is balance and moderation. Not allowing the brain rest is surprisingly one of the main reasons for lack of focus and trouble multitasking. “…Recent studies of people have found that major cross sections of the brain become surprisingly active during downtime. These brain studies suggest to researchers that periods of rest are critical in allowing the brain to synthesize information, make connections between ideas and even develop the sense of self.”
In conclusion, the author points out that technology is not necessarily the culprit when it comes to declining academic performance in students today, but rather an issue of overuse and poorly managed homework habits. With overuse comes overly stimulated brains, which in turn creates a plethora of problems in a learning environment. Today’s youth is being influenced by screens, keyboards and other electronics, and while that reality is clearly not going to change, educators and parents need to continue to find a middle ground. Technology has many benefits in today’s modern world and the only way to adapt is to learn how to use it, however, because of how easy it is to become “addicted” per say, it is important that there is more public education and aid for students to understand how to use technology in a way to benefit the future.