Digital distractions

Children of the modern age have a visible obsession for technology. Teens walk through busy streets with their heads buried in their phones, most social interaction has shifted to texting and instant messaging on Facebook and twitter, and when they retreat to their homes at the end of the day they play video games, watch Netflix or spend hours surfing the web. This need to be constantly stimulated has been embedded in American culture and it is something that starts at a very young age.

The brains of teenagers have been wired to consistently want stimulation. As Michael Rich put it “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.”The ability to focus has been replaced with the ability to multitask, but the degree to which one must focus on tasks is a skill that is crucial in order to do well in America’s education system. In some aspects of school multitasking can be useful, but it doesn’t allow the student to give their one-hundred percent best effort when concentrating on a specific task like reading a book. Instead their focus would be divided, making them devote parts of their attention to the book and parts of their attention to another task. This diminishes the quality of both tasks, resulting in inadequate work. The exposure many children have to digital technology at a young age could lead them to having this disadvantage in school. Students like Vishal Singh struggle with balancing his love for technology and the need to do well in school because the two often clash and usually the technology wins. Kids and teenagers getting distracted is not a new thing and it has been an issue since the dawn of man kind, but technology makes the temptation to be distracted more inviting and rewarding.

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Why strain my eyes for hours reading dull material when I can play a game that teleports me to a new world? Why write my essay when a new season of Sherlock came out on Netflix? These are questions that are asked subconsciously and the will to resist these temptations must be strong. A common solution to this that many students use is to switch back and forth between assignments and pleasure, or again, to multitask. This is a strategy that I too as an adult am guilty of, and speaking from experience it is a very inefficient method of approaching tasks. The issue of being tempted is strong with teens and children who grew up with technology but the issue is also prevalent in adults, specifically those who did not grow up with a lot of digital technology. My Father often chooses to watch tv instead of other tasks, so it just goes to show that temptation reaches all ages but it is much stronger in children.

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Digital technology and it’s presence in teens and children is something that is not going to go away and schools should make efforts to adapt to it by the implementation of things like iPads and other various digital technologies, or changing school hours to follow the general trend of students staying up late to use the computer. Digital technology is a core part of American culture and it’s going to be around for a while.

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Digital distractions

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