Parmis Sahrapima, Web Co-Editor-in-Chief
Speaking as a student who faces the same problems and goes through the same experiences as millions of other teenagers, I can honestly admit that the first thing that comes to my mind when I get home from school is my precious computer. For others, it may be their cell phone, laptop, iPod, TV or video games that are more meaningful. But the question is whether or not these devices have become overused by the majority of teenagers who own them, and whether or not they have become the biggest source of distraction to young minds. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a big YES.
As new features are being added to cellphones and iPhones, staying away from them at school has become somewhat impossible. With texting, music and Internet available on cell phones, they have become miniature and portable versions of home computers. It has become hard for many students to put their hands into their backpack even for a few seconds before their teachers accuse them of texting or being on their phone.
But even so, the distractions don’t stop after one leaves school. As school assignments have become more and more computer-dependent, I find myself taking longer to complete my homework. I find it impossible to not have other tabs open for sites like Facebook, You Tube or Twitter. And even when I decide to start doing my homework, there are many intervals in between when I easily click on one of those tabs and instead waste my time liking my friends’ new updates on Facebook or watching music videos and different variety shows on You Tube. Two hours then pass before I realize that I have tons of homework left to attend to.
Modern technology has become the perfect source for entertainment. Sites like You Tube contain so many different types of videos that it pleases anyone. Facebook indeed has done its job of allowing people to learn more about others in indirect ways. But the crucial thing to ask is whether or not our habits to constantly use these sources of entertainment will become permanent and everlasting.
According to The New York Times, the amount of hours that the average 8 to 18 year old spends on electronic devices is seven and a half hours, compared to six and a half hours that was found from a study done five years ago. Furthermore, since many kids also multitask, the average amount of time used consuming media in total is 11 hours per day. What proved to be more shocking, however, was that studies in 2005 had confirmed that the use of electronic devices could not possibly continue in its growth. Studies also showed that a heavy use of media was also a possible cause of “behavior problems and lower grades.”
With technology growing common over the years, and with new social websites becoming popular, many teens face the same problem of being unable to refuse these distractions. Furthermore, getting into the habit of texting while doing homework or going onto Facebook to check notifications has decreased the attention span of kids and teenagers when they sit down to get some serious work done. They find themselves unable to sit down at a desk with a book in front of them without doing what has become a habit to them; taking a short break and going onto their computer for some fun.
These habits might seem small and unimportant, but once you let yourself take these “short breaks,” the whole night might pass before you realize how long your “short break” has been. These realizations become even more depressing for the more studious teenagers, who find themselves panicking when most of the night has passed by and no work has gotten done.
But even though our generation has many more sources of distraction, there are ways to pull yourself out of these habits. Writing down daily goals or daily tasks along with the number of hours needed to get them done serve as great reminders and are a great way to keep yourself on the right track. Strictly minimizing the amount of time you spend on your computer, on your cellphone, or watching TV will also give you time to complete things that are more important.
One of the best ways, however, to keeping yourself on the right track both in life and in studies is asking yourself the following two questions: 1) Is it important? and 2) Is it necessary? Many times, when it comes to making a decision between entertainment and getting homework done, one can honestly answer that entertainment is both unimportant and unnecessary, while getting homework done is important. This will allow you to do homework first before putting time for things that are not important.
But even though technology has become a kid-magnet, it also definitely has its pros. The hardest thing that we need to learn to do, however, is to use technology for work purposes first, before we take that “short break.”