With Internet sites like Facebook and YouTube, along with Twitter and Tumbler, teenagers are exposed to a wide array of technology. From hand-held video games, to cell phones, to online readings and laptops, technology is everywhere. With this emphasis on technology, school boards cannot help but wonder whether teenagers are in fact “dumbing down” because of their dependence on technology for quick information.
Technology is both an aid to a student’s learning capacity as well as a hindrance. Because of rapid advances in technologies, educators believe that utilizing the newest technology is important for students. Despite the advantages of technology, schools worry that this technology can also be a limitation to a student’s overall education.
Computer sources take the place of books when it comes to research papers for students, so long hours of research in a library no longer occur. Websites like Spark Notes are an easy copout for students who have procrastinated on reading a book, and plagiarism from these sites is more prevalent than ever. Calculators have replaced the need for memorization among students, and without a calculator most students would find even the most simple math problems a difficult task.
Mrs. Amy Kafantaris, a high school Latin teacher, believes that technology has in fact hurt teenagers. “Technology has forced students to stop using their brains and enabled them to skip reading books and doing hard math problems, and instead rely on technology to do the work for them.”
Some students of this “technology-based” generation agree that technology has in fact hindered their social and academic skills. Mary Green said, “Yes, I agree that teens have been affected by technology in a negative way, but at the same time I do not want to think that we are.”
With obsessions with cell phones and computers, teenagers do not want to think that the very thing they love, like Facebook, could ever be a harm to them. Cristina Gomez, on the other hand, believes that she has in fact been harmed by technology. “Yes, I think technology has hindered me. Mainly academically because I get distracted due to Facebook and YouTube. Also, because of texting, I think I have become a little less social and more impersonal.”
Another social harm of technology includes that students do not develop good writing skills. Cell phones allow for constant texting, which leads to simple sentences, slang words, and the ultimate reduction of this generations’ capacity to write valid arguments, as well as read more complex texts. In general, it has hindered the overall performance of students.
As a high school administrator, Vice Principal, Mr. Jack Mullarkey, sees the increase in the impersonal relationships between students. “Although technology allows us to be more connected to each other, it enables us to do and say things that we would never say in person. It can make us impersonal in some respects.”
No matter the position people take on whether or not technology is in fact “dumbing down” students, the need and usage of technology will never change. In a society based upon social networks and the Internet, teenagers are instantly exposed to new technologies as they become available. It is important to remember that technology will always be changing and improving, but it is our job to make sure we find the best possible way to use this new technology with our best interests in mind.