Growing Up. Digital.

18Jan11

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction is an article that was published in the NYTimes at the end of November. Since then, it gained a lot of responses from the education and technology communities. Here is my two cents that I never published:

 

Lets talk about the population of students today who are “distracted” by the technology that surrounds their everyday lives: Facebook, YouTube, video games, texting… the list goes on and on.

The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.

Decades ago, students were “distracted” from school work by television or talking on their phones (that were connected to the wall, of course). How is YouTube and cell phones any different?

Vishal Singh is a high school senior who faces this common challenge. He plays video games 10 hours a week, updates his Facebook status in the middle of the night, and is known for distributing YouTube links to his friends. Despite his teachers who claim that Vishal is one of their brightest students, his grades are dropping.

But Vishal is also his family’s tech support. He can recover lost files on his father’s computer, and help his mother build her own website. His access to technology has allowed him to discover one of his passions: filmmaking.

Are we really raising a generation of students that are going to be “wired differently”? What does that even mean? Are we disenfranchising an entire generation because they are capable of things that adults still can’t figure out?

Is it possible that when students like Vishal enter the work force, skills like successful multi-tasking and rapidly switching tasks will not be considered valuable?

And what are Vishal’s parents doing to monitor and guide how he spends his time out of school? What are the consequences for playing video games and not doing your homework?  Is it really fair to judge Vishal on his choices if his family is not helping him learn how to manage his time?

“He’s a kid caught between two worlds,” said Mr. Reilly — one that is virtual and one with real-life demands.

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