Dependence on mobile devices and social media has both positive and negative impacts on learning.
Technology has blended in with daily activity to become a way of everyday life for college and university-aged students to the point where they often take for granted the automated, instantaneous delivery of information. The college students of today live in a world where they take advantage of online learning opportunities vs. being stuck in a classroom, they opt for an online textbook rental for their math course over an expensive printed version from the campus bookstore, and they put together and deliver group projects without ever coming face-to-face with their classmates.
In many ways technology has improved quality of life. However, when it comes to education, technology and the way students are dependent upon it, arguably has both positive and negative impacts. Let’s explore how technology addiction impacts the education of college and university level students, our next generation’s leaders, both positively and negatively.
The Cons of tech addiction for college students
A fairly strong argument can be made about the negative effects of technology on addicted students. Sure, technology is distracting and wastes valuable time (you know this if you’ve ever checked Facebook at 9am only to realize you’ve spent over an hour “liking” your friend’s statuses). Students don’t have the luxury of time with a full course load, and any time they do have should be devoted to writing essays, course-assigned reading, or studying for exams. However, students who are in the habit of logging on to their laptops for a quick social media update or online game when they get back from campus can be sucked in for hours themselves onto it for hours.
- Technology is distracting—from school work, socializing, and even eating.
- It can lead to further addictive behaviors—like pornography and online poker—are just a click away.
- Technology can be disrespectful if you put yourself in a college professors shoes—imagine competing with students texting and watching YouTube videos while you lecture on medieval history. This isn’t a very attractive habit to bring into the professional world either.
- It leads to lack of concentration in classes—try taking decent class notes or doing homework while you’re receiving instant messages from 5 different friends.
- The trend towards e-learning lacks human contact—as well as the encouragement and support provided by in-person college lecturers—can mean a loss of communication and interactive skills for tech addicted students.
- Plus, distant learning is just that it’s “distant” so students can shed responsibility and lose interest in learning easily.
The pros of tech addiction for college students
Now let’s examine the flip side of the technology dependence coin. Although tech can be distracting, so can television or peer pressure to socialize over studying, right? The plight of the college student has always been to prove they have the willpower to survive college and its many distractions. The beauty of technology when it’s applied to learning revolutionizes the college classroom by opening doors to learning opportunities not available to previous generations.
- Technology has made knowledge abundant for students—as far as both speed and style of learning preference (i.e., e-learning vs. classroom learning, printed textbooks vs. digital textbooks).
- Technology is not socio-economically biased—rich, middle class and poor students alike can seek academic development thanks to the Internet.
- On that same note, technology provides learning to everyone—honors student or visually-impaired student—everyone has the opportunity to further their education.
- Technology provides unlimited access to additional learning material—via things like handheld dictionaries, linked resources, supportive video examples, etc. Students can learn the definition of a new word or explore a work of art from valuable educational sources by clicking a button.
- Online media keeps things interesting! After all, would you prefer the same old classroom lecture or a dynamic multimedia presentation on human behavior?
- When it comes to social media, research shows that 1 in 3 students use social media for educational purposes and that college grades are positively affected by this collaborative work online.
- Plus, social media for e-learning students helps students feel more connected to their college, their professor and their classmates.