Is too much technology having a negative impact on us?
A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a random conversation with my mother; she said something interesting that sparked a debate in my head. “Technology has made life so easy,” she said, “but too much technology is turning kids lazy.”
While I do think that technological advancements have made our lives much easier compared to the hardships faced by our previous generations, I wondered out loud if there is such a thing as “too much technology”.
We need to acknowledge that we do live in a world of tech overdose. Just compare your current day-to-day routine with the one you followed 5 years ago. It is surprising how dependent we are on modern technology.
We live in the world of iPhones, laptops, fitbits, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Netflix, tons of food delivery apps, etc. Most students today spend long hours staring at their mobile phones either hooked to social media or some other app. Such a dependency on technology is excessive but I’m not an old school cynic or tech hater; I love Edtech and always rely on technology to make lessons interesting for students.
Excessive technology in our lives is not necessarily a bad thing. It can make our lives easier by saving time, money, and energy. But there are some negative aspects of being over-reliant on technology.
Here’s an attempt to highlight the effects of “too much technology” on students by making a pros and cons list.
The Pros of Technology
1. Technology has opened new avenues of learning
How would our education system look sans all the technological advancements in the education industry?
Online learning has opened doors for personalised learning where students can learn anything and everything under the sun at their own pace from the comforts of their home. Video-based learning, flipped learning, audio podcasts etc., have provided engaging platforms of learning for students. Computers, projectors, and even, calculators have helped in evolving education to fit the needs of students of this generation.
2. There are apps to take care of the overall needs of students
There has been a boom in the app industry, with a huge number of apps on tap.
While it is almost impossible to count the number of Edtech apps that are out there, they take care of almost all the needs of students. There are apps to address almost every aspect of student learning from apps that teach nursery rhymes, playing the piano and learning how to paint to apps that help college students manage money. You name it, there’s an app for it!
3. The Internet has made research easier
Thanks to technology, students are blessed with this wonderful platform called The Internet where they can read, research, and learn about anything.
These days, students heavily rely on Google and other fact sources like Wikipedia, Thesaurus.com, Encyclopedia.com, etc., for online research. There are plenty of fact checker tools readily available on the internet that can be utilized by students to confirm the correctness of their sources.
The Cons of Technology
1. Social media addiction and cyber bullying
In the last decade, social media platforms have become a huge hit on the internet and teens and adults are now hooked on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. Many spend excessive time on social media and become tech-addicts.
Spending long hours on social media makes children vulnerable to cyberbullying, trolling and they can waste precious hours just scrolling up and down their timelines.
2. Rise in physical and mental health problems
Many health experts have stated more than once that excessive use of tech gadgets can have harmful effects on children’s physical and mental health.
Since most tech tools have a visual interface, there is a risk of eyesight-related issues associated with it. The growing rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are a consequence of a sedentary lifestyle powered by the addictive nature of technology.
Apart from physical health issues, there has been a steep rise in cases of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, thanks to the overuse of mobile phones, laptops, social media, and internet in general.
3. Disconnect from the real world
Technology has made us great communicators… online. We don’t hesitate or fumble before talking to a stranger or expressing our views and technology has turned many of our students into armchair activists!
But when it comes to conversing with someone in real life, basic skills of communication are lacking. Our obsession with technology is turning our children into bad listeners and public speakers who lack the confidence to express their opinions in real life situations.
Some students are so engrossed in their smartphones they ‘detach’ from reality; they and unaware of what’s happening around them, both literally and figuratively. They might like a post about depression on social media or tweet about the war in Syria, but they are increasingly turning blind to people who are suffering around them.
4. Too much Edtech can be overwhelming for students
Over-utilising Edtech in the classroom can overwhelm students and hinder their learning process.
For example: if a teacher uses a PowerPoint presentation, writes on the board and encourages students to check out a Maths app while teaching a lesson, students will find it difficult to juggle between visual cues from all the three different platforms.
Since there are a plethora of Edtech tools out there, teachers should carefully sift through a large number of apps to find one that doesn’t have a bad design or a faulty user interface.
Technology combined with education is a very powerful tool that can change the way we learn, think, and see the world. But, it is also essential to strike a perfect balance between Edtech learning and traditional learning so that we can ensure the overall development of our students.
Edtech brings out the best in students when we smartly integrate it with conventional learning methods. If we obsess over it, though, like a new shiny toy, it is likely that our students will suffer from problems of ‘too-much-technology’.