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Technology: Too Much of a Good Thing?

A catch 22, a double edged sword, an extreme irony, a paradox for the ages.

 

Yes, the wonderful world of technology. How can something help and hinder simultaneously? They say too much of anything can be a bad thing. We can’t forget about technology when we consider this proverb. I’m sure you have read many an article on this very topic, but have you ever really considered the impact that it has on the modern classroom environment? We know it can affect one’s health. Many kids don’t get enough exercise due to the technology-based entertainment industry. But do we stop to consider their minds?

 

I was watching an episode of iCarly with my family the other day. Carly had a date with a young man and was concerned that she wasn’t smart enough for him. Her rebellious sidekick Sam encouraged her to “cheat” during their date by looking things up on the internet via her phone or tablet. “You’ll be as smart as the internet,” Sam told her. Carly’s response: “The internet is really smart.” It is indeed. Maybe a little too smart.

 

With everything so easily accessible, why even bother thinking? Not only is it easily accessible, it is quickly accessible. I see a direct correlation to this in the classroom. The other day in class we were analyzing song lyrics that connected to a novel we were reading. I had my students working in pairs to figure out the meaning of the lyrics and reveal the connections. I explained that there could be multiple interpretations. One student said, “Let’s just look it up on Genius, then we will know exactly what the song means.” My response: “No way. I want to know what YOU think it means.”

 

Many kids desire to take the quick and easy way out, due, in part, to the digital world in which they have been raised. This has resulted in laziness, and I fear the outcome will be a generation that lacks problem solving and analytical skills.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Technology enhances education in so many ways. I benefit from it on a daily basis. Through an app called Remind, I can send homework reminders to students’ phones without having their phone numbers or them seeing mine. In a virtual classroom, my students can complete assignments and I can provide immediate feedback. The advantages are astronomical. The possibilities are endless. But all at a cost. The brains of Generation Z are being heavily molded and shaped by machines. They want concrete answers and they want them now.

 

For the lowly English teacher, this is a challenge. I want them to analyze, dig deep – THINK. Yet, it’s like pulling teeth. They will give me five minutes, and then they are ready to move on to something else. Why think, they ask, when we can Google what others think?

 

So now I have presented a problem for which I have no definitively good answer. Technology is steadily advancing. We can’t stop it. As adult role models we can only reinforce behaviors by doing things such as engaging our children in conversation and encouraging them to think instead of going straight to the Internet for answers. I will end with a story that reveals the negative effects that technology can have on us in regards to our minds, and in this case, even our individuality. One of my friends was telling me about how her son was running for a student council position at the elementary level. He Googled ideas for his campaign slogan and chose the first one he came to. Guess what? A few other kids at school had the very same idea. Coincidence? I think not.

 

Why memorize, if we can look it up?

 

Why create, if we can use someone else’s ideas?

 

Why even think at all?

 

I don’t know about y’all, but it gives me a lot to think about.

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