I’ll be honest, the first time I read this article I thought I was reading a Fox News op-ed meant to scare parents and old people into confiscating their children’s electronic devices (click here to see what I mean). Even the title of the article sort of lets the reader know what exactly this piece is trying to accomplish. After a couple more reads, I put enough of my skepticism aside to realize that even though I kind of disagree with what was said in the article, the author does make some solid points here and there.
The subject of the article, Vishal, is an aspiring 17-year-old filmmaker who struggles in his core classes in school. He is referred to as a “kid caught between two worlds… one that is virtual and one with real-life demands” (Richtel 2). In my opinion, Vishal is the prime example of a person who exhibits different lanes of intelligence. While he may not be excellent at Algebra II or economics, Vishal clearly shows passion in the art of filmmaking. He even says himself that at one time he “[spent] two hours to get a few seconds just right” (7). Just as I don’t think that it’s right for people to blame anvils for the poor school performance of an aspiring welder, I don’t think it’s right for people to blame digital technology entirely for the failures of an aspiring filmmaker like Vishal.
There were certain points in the article that had me nodding my head in agreement. For example, when Sam Crocker, Vishal’s friend, noted that his frequent use of social media might be a factor in his reduced attention span, I totally resonated with that. As an avid user of various types of social media, I have definitely seen a decline in my attention span as a result of the rapid influx of bits and pieces of information. Furthermore, I think the point made by Dr. Rich was the most important in my opinion. He suggests that young ones should not try and completely deprive themselves of their devices, but rather achieve an even balance in which they can enjoy the amazing things that the Internet has to offer while maintaining a good head on their shoulders academically and socially.
Dr. Rich’s point is the most important because the effect that technology has on people is almost always on the individual. If you are the type of person to get distracted easily, then of course it’s easy to be led astray from daily homework assignments when you have YouTube of Facebook just a couple of clicks away. Whether or not you “fail in life” because of technology-related distractions is ultimately up to the individual. Allison Miller, a 14-year-old girl mentioned in the article, attests that sometimes she’ll forget to do homework because she’s too caught up in her texting. To me, that’s a clear sign of a problem. Not that every single kid with a phone is going to end up like Allison, but those who are like Allison are more likely to be caught up in the endless cycle of texting and browsing if given instant access to a smartphone. The relationship between an individual’s unique quirks and personality traits and the distracting nature of digital technology mediums is a broad spectrum; finding that balance that makes your lifestyle the healthiest is the key.