This an excerpt from a paper I wrote for my educational psych class last year. It was also posted on my old blog almost a year ago. I thought it would be good to share it now on this one…and as always I welcome your comments and input on the subject:
In today’s world technology plays a prominent role in our everyday lives from the time we wake up in the morning until the time we fall asleep at night. It would be foolish to think that we are not bombarded with evidence that technology in recent years has progressed into an all-powerful entity that permeates all aspects of life. With the advent of computers and cell phones it is fair to say that the younger generations perceive and experience the world in an entirely different way than their predecessors. One particular question that arises with such a change in world views is whether or not technology has a beneficial or detrimental effect on the development of learning. Based on research and my own personal experience as a younger individual exposed to innumerable technological advances I am compelled to believe that technology, while it may be beneficial in some regards, has an overwhelming negative impact on the overall learning process.
Many individuals would argue that the advent of cell phones and computers has had a positive influence on children and adolescents. They would say that contact between peers is easier and more convenient than ever; with the click of a mouse we can plug into the rest of the world and become part of a social network. Many would think that such a thing would promote healthy self-esteem and positive peer relationships, but unfortunately this is not always the case. The internet has in recent years become a conduit for aggression and promotion of negative self-image through cyber-bullying.
Websites such as facebook.com or myspace.com became a means by which some adolescents could vent their frustrations in a fairly public manner. They became sources of slander and ridicule for less popular individuals. In my four years of high school and four years of college I have seen brief electronic statements spiral out of control and ruin friendships, destroy romantic relationships, and wreak havoc on self-esteem. On a personal level, I was always amazed at how someone’s comments on Myspace or Facebook could easily ruin my day and entirely distract me from my schoolwork.
In today’s society we underestimate the power of words and how they can so easily be spread and misread on the internet or in text messages. Not only has technology become so advanced that we have replaced live conversations with instant messages, but we have seen a shift in the linguistic capabilities of individuals. Spellcheck has made us lazy and cell phones have obliterated our attention spans. Instead of paying attention to our college lectures we spend half of our class time texting people two seats away about our lunch plans. I have even seen several students answer their phones in class and carry on conversations during the lecture, not only impacting their own individual learning, but the learning environment of those around them. We have become a group of lazy, malicious, self-indulgent individuals who care more about social status than what we can learn from those around us.
With that being said we are left with the question of how to halt this growing epidemic and rectify the problems that we now face as a result. We must first acknowledge that there is in fact a problem before we can even begin to extract a means to fix it. Many individuals are likely to argue that the benefits of technology far outweigh the consequences, but how can we possibly justify the decline of interpersonal skills and an increase in relational aggression with the benefits of technological advancements? Cyber-bullying is reaching new heights and students are being negatively impacted on a whole new level. Not only do they have to worry about the everyday stresses of adolescence, but now they must face the possibility of ridicule beyond the classroom, which may ultimately play a role in the learning process and overall academic success.
In order to eliminate the potentially harmful effects of technology it is important that we take a stand against inappropriate conduct on both the internet and the use of cellular phones. Many schools and workplaces have already instituted zero tolerance policies that have clear and decisive penalties for those who fail to comply. I think it’s time for those who have not to jump on the bandwagon and institute policies of their own.
More importantly we must take into account that simply establishing a policy will not always promote change; we must full-heartedly follow through with the guidelines we set forth and amend them if we see fit. Furthermore, we must foster a community in which acceptance and diversity are the norm. If we cannot teach children to accept their peers as equals, we cannot possibly begin to avert the dangers of technological progress.
Only through collaboration and implementation can we begin to pull our children from the abyss that technology has formed in our lives. With strategy and care we can increase academic success and positive social development and hinder the growing wasteland of apathy, laziness, and relational aggression.
Until next time…stay classy.
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