Today during my chemistry class, in a bout of boredom, I started observing the other students around me. I was mostly just wondering who else was losing interest so early into the semester to reassure myself that I’m not dumb and that my chemistry professor is just bad at holding people’s attention. In front of me, a boy was browsing through Reddit. He was reading about foreign films, mortgages, and the concept of numbers. To my left, I saw a girl scrolling through Tumblr. Behind her, someone was reading a news article about finance and next to him, a girl was staring at Facebook. As I observed practically everyone around me indulging themselves in anything but chemistry, I was reminded of Matt Richtel’s article “Growing up Digital.” As the article discusses, my generation has been raised to expect and seek out immediate gratification. This new age of technology has “rewarded [our brains] not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.” I witnessed this during my chemistry class, not just in my behavior, but in the behavior of those around me. While we could have been “investing in the future” by paying attention in class, we all chose to immediate gratification instead. What really resonated with me from the article was the argument to “bring back boredom.” We have reached a point at which we have become “habituated to distraction” because of our constant need for stimulation derived from growing up in a technological world. Is it really possible to undo the way our brains have developed just by “bringing boredom back” and practicing moderation? I feel that years of heavy exposure cannot be undone that easily. Yes, we should raise the future generations with this kind of moderation, but I do not think it is possible to rid ourselves of the change in our development that has already taken place. I feel I agree most with David Reilly’s approach to this lack of focus; using the distraction as a point of focus. By incorporating technology into the classroom, Reilly is able to redirect student’s enthusiasm towards the internet towards education. However, I do not think this method should be practiced on all students. Every individual learns differently and, for some, the use of technology in school could be more harmful than helpful. Students who were raised using technology in moderation should not be taught in school to be technologically dependent. In this regards, I believe the best solution is for students to choose the direction in which their technological education goes, as they know best about themselves. Overall, I believe that technology can be a really great tool for education if used properly, but it also can be detrimental. We use laptops in my chemistry class to actively participate on class problems, but clearly, this just leads to students getting lost on the internet. Technology is a great tool, but, in its budding age, we may have abused it. Just like Vishal is experiencing, we are too dependent on stimulation to stay focused in a classroom environment. Clearly, there is an issue, but Richtel does not provide much of a solution as, he implies, a solution may not even be necessary.
Written by: Maya Sicherer
In Response to: “Growing up Digital”