As college students in the 21st century, I think we can all agree how vital technology and the Internet has been to shaping our outlook on life. Everything should be easy, fast, and convenient. If it’s not, then we probably don’t want to be bothered with it. Our primary mode of communication? – texting. Think about it – when was the last time you talked on the phone with someone under the age of 40 (a generously arbitrary number since our parents still prefer to hear our voice every now and then).
I just read an article about the increasing use of technology in the classroom, with over 90% of teachers reporting they have computers in the classroom. The cartoon pictures of elementary school kids naturally led me to recall how frequently, or infrequently, we used computers during my K-5 years. With computers still an exciting tool, we would all look forward to media class during which we would play math games on the computer and learn to type without looking. It was an especially exciting media day if we were allowed to play Oregon Trail for the first ten minutes.
Those days are gone. Not just for our generation, but Generation Z and those to follow. Never mind practicing typing on those computational keypads (so annoying that you couldn’t see your entire document). Nowadays, kids play Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja instead of connect the dots and color inside the line drawings to pass the time.
When I think of college education, I certainly agree that students should be integrating various technology and software into their learning programs. It’s important to excel at common programs used in daily business – we know how vital Microsoft Suite is to following along in that “Computers in Business” class. But is it also necessary for K-5 students to learn math problems from a PowerPoint slide, have access to calculators, dictionaries and hundreds of irrelevant non-educational applications on tablets, and use etextbooks to read daily lessons? Some days, I feel overloaded with the abundance of technology available at my fingertips. I already type all my papers, do most of my research, communicate with friends, professors and other school departments, buy textbooks, listen to music, read news, and network all on my computer. There are so many distractions on the computer, from scrolling through pictures, playing games, and of course – the Internet, it’s almost a miracle I didn’t get side-tracked while writing this. But alas, there are some choices I make to avoid the severe infiltration of technology in our lives.
Thus far, I have deferred getting a smartphone. Sure to change soon, as I have begun to succumb to wanting access to every part of my life (all those important emails and notifications) at my fingertips. I take hand-written notes (which actually reinforces what you’ve learned better than typing notes). I keep an assignment book, and don’t rely on iCal to tell me when my paper is due. I avoid checking my phone during meals, and certainly turn it off on dates. I still print directions because I like to know where I’m going before I get there.
What am I embarrassingly guilty of? Carrying my phone with me everywhere around the house. Using my cell as an alarm clock in the morning. Not having a regular watch. Relying on music when I go for a run. Checking the weather five times a day to plan ahead. Asking Siri silly questions on my sister’s iPhone. Texting, rather than calling, friends to make plans.
Imagine a world where K-12 students are required to have iPads or other tablets instead of filling their school desks with pencils and crayons. It’s coming soon to a school near you. As we increasingly turn to technology for the most basic daily functions, I fear for ours and future generations’ ingenuity, creativity, fitness and social skills. As important and prevalent as technology is in our daily lives, I’m not convinced that young children should be so highly exposed in the classroom and jeopardize their excitement in hearty child’s play.