The world is turning digital and technology reliant faster than ever before.
High school students are using technology more than ever, from texting, calling, watching TV shows, social media, homework, and more. It’s necessary to accomplish a vast majority of complex tasks nowadays, including the writing of this article. It has crept into classrooms like a wrecking ball from the COVID-19 online learning age and has since then become a staple for education. With the constant usage of technology, how is this affecting the youth of today inside the classroom?
Bottom line: the effects are both detrimental and yet beneficial. Technology is a double-edged sword, looming over us all.
Students are losing the ability to focus and do classwork or homework without taking frequent social media breaks throughout. A current high school teacher of mine has a similar, persistent issue in their class: students always have their phones out on their desks and constantly check them, despite the teacher’s requests to put all phones away.
Teachers all around Southern California are facing similar issues.
I interviewed an educator at the Culver City High School to gather their opinion on the aforementioned matter, through a perspective only educators can truly have. While also noting the positives of technology, their statements were unsurprisingly similar to my claims made above:
The issues of focus and concentration in the classroom are of paramount importance in the digital age, but also cultural matters that need consistent investigation. As a result of myriad technologies, from cellular devices to laptops, students often find themselves overloaded with more data than ever before[.]
With issues such as focus being impacted by technology, are levels of concentration parallel to the retaining of classroom content? It certainly could be. The educator I interviewed described that:
Technology is impacting the way students learn and retain information in myriad ways including the amount of time spent processing information online, the ability to evaluate the credibility of sources within research capacities and contexts, as well as synthesizing online material with [an] available scholarship to create original assessment products[.]
This also raises concerns about cheating and plagiarism, something students that don’t want to learn the material and are unable to retain it resort to.
Is technology all that bad though?
Some see it in a more positive light. Technology, of course, does come with a handful of benefits. One student from the Ramon Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, a senior, believes that technology can positively contribute to classrooms, citing its convenience, accessibility to disabled persons, and allowing for heightened communication and greater connections.
Of course, this is true; social media platforms can allow students to connect with others around the world, growing their cultural awareness and potential knowledge they could bring into their classrooms.
Another student from El Segundo High School, a junior, also described verbatim that technology is a double-edged sword, stating its apparent usefulness in accessing a greater variety of resources and information about academics. To contrast, they also expressed their distaste for typed assignments, allocating that hand-written assignments are more convenient. This, of course, can go both ways. Purely hand-written assignments, asides from preference, have the opportunity to force students to think more critically, making them less likely to plagiarize or use artificial intelligence to generate their work.
As we progress through the digital age, a fine balance with technology will need to be found, both inside and outside the classroom. Technology has great advantages for high schools and their students, but at what cost? How will increased uses of technology impact the social-wellbeing of students and teachers alike? How much is too much? These are questions we all must ask ourselves throughout the progression of the digital age.