Facebook blamed for teens lack of focus

Teenagers are usually the first demographic to embrace and integrate new technology into the patchwork of daily life. 

Whether it’s the newest cell phone, computer game, or music player, you can bet American teenagers either has it or knows about it.

Touchscreen, real-time, and instant, duh.

As technology continues to evolve, there is a growing emphasis on social networking, real-time exchange of information and of course, instant gratification. Technology allows us to eat up more and more information while ultimately digesting less. 

Today’s teenagers are growing up in a world where this is normal, a world where more is better and focus is a thing of the past.

“I know I can read a book, but then I’m up and checking Facebook,” says student Sam Crocker adding, “Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway. My attention span is getting worse.”

The social qualities that are considered a selling point in today’s technology like Facebook, Twitter, and almost every cell phone and computer, are in stark contrast with the attention intensive educational system.

Medical researchers are worried that this lifestyle could negatively affect the way teens who grow up using these high tech toys process information and sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. 

And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

Well you know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. One school in particular is fighting this attention problem by engaging students in a way that is familiar with them: through technology.

David Reilly, Principal at Woodside High School in Silicon Valley is integrating technology in every way he possibly can. He’s asked teachers to build websites to communicate with students, he’s introduced classes on using digital tools to record music, and he’s even secured funding for iPads to teach the students Mandarin as part of a $3 million multimedia center.

Reilly has also pushed back first period to 9 am, unchecked the use of digital devices, and is using technology to fight technology. “I am trying to take back their attention from their BlackBerrys and video games,” Reilly says. “To a degree, I’m using technology to do it.”

Reilly may be successfully reaching his students through technology in the short term, but will these students be successfully prepared for real life?

The real working world is a place that integrates technology but requires some serious attention to complete projects, business interactions, meetings, etc. 

Plus, how can you go on a date and have a real conversation when you can’t comment on any literature, news, or history because all you’ve been doing all day is checking Facebook? 

Remember kids, all of those boring classes and lectures were only preparing you for more boring meetings and classes called meetings, business dinners and sometimes, dates.

(Via NY Times)