Mini-Essay Guest Post #2: Clayton Peppler

This, being the second of 3 Mini-Essay winners from FRCC’s Comp I courses that I teach. Another essay on technology in education, this time by 1pm’s Clayton Peppler. Please to enjoy.   ~Jenn

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Too Much Technology?

by Clayton Peppler

American society puts an emphasis on the use of technology in everyday life, making it inevitable for children to be subject to the technology around them. Even though children are going to be exposed to technology in most environments, I do not think that school should be one of those places. Not only does technology pose a danger to a child’s education, but recently technology has been linked to the underdevelopment of social skills in children.

The Internet is a dangerous place for the curious mind of a child. With social media and online resources so easily accessible, education is at serious risk. According to a study done by Cengage Learning, “59% [of students were] busy checking out their favorite social-media sites” (Strang) instead of participating and engaging in classroom activity. If the child’s mind is being occupied by social media, how is that child going to retain what the teacher is teaching?

Most children are not going to have the self restraint to avoid scrolling through their Facebook or Twitter feed when the opportunity arises. This is not the fault of the child as they are too immature to fully realize the negative repercussions that looking at social media can have on their grades and future endeavors. Now, there are different ways to counteract the use of social media, such as internet safeguards and teacher monitoring, but these are only so effective. The Internet safeguards are able to block websites but often have loopholes that allow access to these pages. If teachers have to monitor these computers day in and day out, there is not going to be any time to teach as they are going to spend all their time monitoring.  The same study found that “60% [of the students] claimed that texting is a major cause for distraction” (Strang). No longer is text messaging limited to cell phones but has expanded to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, all easily accessible from the Internet. Texting allows students to communicate no matter where they are or what they are doing. For example, one student could be taking an online test while another student is taking that same test across the room, but the entire time they could be messaging back and forth sharing answers and discussing problems. This does not allow the teacher to know what student one or two is understanding individually, rather she is getting what student one and two are understanding collectively. In order for the teacher to do her job, she needs to know what each student knows individually that way she can help them with their individual needs.

06a69719d007f1ebd1b2b5e183fb8694According to a different study done by the Pew Internet Project, they found something they deemed as the “’Wikipedia problem,’ in which students have grown so accustomed to getting quick answers with a few keystrokes that they are more likely to give up when an easy answer eludes them. The Pew research found that 76 percent of teachers believed students had been conditioned by the Internet to find quick answers” (Richtel). Students are no longer thinking for themselves, as Wikipedia has everything that they need. While Wikipedia is a very effective tool, it can often be misused. Students are going to be tempted to type in a question and get an answer because that requires no brain power, they can get an answer in five seconds instead of the five minutes it would take them to figure it out for themselves. They are not going through the process to finding the answer, which means that they are not learning anything. Wikipedia may give them the answers, but it will not give them the experience and explanation to understand what they are answering. Education is being substituted for key strokes and quick answers.

While technology poses a danger to a child’s education, it also has irreversible effects on that child’s social development. According to pediatric nurse Denise Daniels, “technology can completely rewrite a child’s brain pathways in a very different way than how they would normally develop… their neural pathways change and different ones are created. It affects concentration, self-esteem, in many cases they don’t have as deeply personal relationships… they lose empathy” (Johnson). Through extended screen time, children are not getting the social interactions that they need to survive. As the children grow up, they are going to struggle with the relationships that they have in their lives because they don’t know how to react or behave to other people. These children are not going to have any real hope for change either, as their neural pathways are literally altered beyond repair. Psychologist Jim Taylor also found that “voice inflection, body language, facial expression and the pheromones (released during face-to-face interaction): are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology” (Johnson). Society is trying to replace human emotion with emoticons. Behind the keyboard, one is able to be whatever emotion they want to be, one can send a happy emoji when in reality they are not happy. When one receives a text message or email, they are unable to pick up on the things that Taylor mentioned above, making it extremely difficult to pick up on these things in real face to face conversation; like a shift in body language or what a change in inflection is.  If you put computers into the classroom, student to student interaction is going to become more and more limited, even non-existent, making it hard for children to pick up on important social ques. As the children move into their adolescent years, again, they are going to struggle with their relationships. By learning to express their emotions with a smiley face or a sad face, that child may not be able to verbally or physically express their feelings. This could also result in these children not knowing how to comfort someone properly when they are experiencing emotion. For example, we all see those posts on Facebook saying R.I.P grandma, and people commenting back “I’m so sorry for your loss”. This is very easy to respond to with a couple key strokes, but not so easy to respond to when they are with that person who lost their grandma. Comforting people in their time of need is essential to healthy friendships and relationships, something that can only be learned through experience, something that these children are not getting from a computer.

In the third quarter of 2011, “Teens ages 13-17 used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones, increasing 256% over the last year” (Johnson). The Internet is becoming more and more accessible to teenagers, and teenagers are taking advantage of it. This study was done in 2011, and was only looking at one year’s time, so this number could be way more now that we are in 2015, four years after 2011. As the MB of data used increases, the face to face time decreases. This is something that schools cannot control, they cannot control cell phone use and technology use outside of the classroom, but they can control it inside the classroom. Instead of promoting technology, schools should be promoting face to face social interactions.

In the classroom, others would argue for the opposite, that technology is not only positive to a child but essential. According to securegenenetworks.com, “technology helps the teachers prepare students for the real world environment. As our nation becomes increasingly more technology-dependent, it becomes even more necessary that to be successful citizens, students must learn to be tech-savvy” (10 Reasons Today’s Students Need Technology). As technology advances, jobs geared towards technology are going to be created. Our future generations need to be up to date with the ever advancing technology, that way they can be ready to fulfill future jobs. It is important that our children are prepared for the future, but at what cost? Is our society willing to potentially hinder a child’s education or risk socially developmental retardations for technology? It is no doubt that children need to be tech-savvy, as a society fixated on technology, but it should be at a developmentally appropriate age. An age in which the child is able to make the decision to choose their education over social media, an age in which social skills will not be compromised for technology.

Moving forward technology will continue to be an institution in societal ideals. The facts are there; technology will continue to negatively impact children in multiple facets of development. By allowing technology in the classroom, our society is waging a war against social abnormalities and educational distractions and dishonesty. To counteract this very real problem, schools need to keep education and technology separate until a child is developmentally and educationally sound; otherwise the children’s education and development of social skills will be at risk.

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Works Cited

Johnson, Chandra. “Face Time vs. Screen Time: The Technological Impact             on Communication.”   Face Time vs. Screen Time: The Technological Impact on Communication. N.p., 27 Aug.           2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Richtel, Matt. “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.

Strang, Tami. “Technology in the Classroom: A Distraction or an Asset?” The Cengage Learning   Blog. N.p., 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

“10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.” 10 Reasons Today’s    Students NEED Technology in the Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 07       Sept. 2015.

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