There is always that one kid. You know the one. The one with his or her computer out, pretending to be engaged and taking notes — but in reality, everyone in the rows farther back can clearly see this kid iMessaging four different people simultaneously. And while the professor rattles on, you can’t help but sit and stare at the silent BuzzFeed videos that play, one after the other, for 50 minutes. Then, when the people around you start to get up, you rack your brain to try and remember even one sentence the professor uttered in the last ten minutes. Unsurprisingly, you only find you sadly cannot erase the images of the “Try Guys Trying on Bras for the First Time” from your mind.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing thing. It has given us insane improvements in modern medicine, instantaneous endless knowledge with the click of a button, the ability to reach someone across the globe in under a second and much more. So there is no debate whether or not technology is a helpful thing. But I do still have the lingering question in my mind: How should technology play into my education?
In most, if not all, of my classes, a computer is absolutely required, whether for essays, homework, research or note-taking. Researching topics for papers is a vastly easier process now (from what I can tell from my mother’s whining) and the immediacy of homework grading is really helpful for my comprehension of material. The Internet is my Mecca for information on anything ranging from economics formulas to how to flirt, and for its existence, I am eternally grateful.
So why do I feel like it is more or less a distraction half the time? It could be because I am that kid in the fourth row scrolling through Tumblr, entirely lacking in self-control. The immediacy of the Internet is a blessing and a curse. While you can easily pull up the information you need to know to pass principles of accounting, you can just as easily stalk your ex on Facebook for three and a half hours. Let’s be honest, which sounds more appealing to you?
I think the use of computers in class is quite the dangerous game to play. I seriously advocate for it because I find typing more enjoyable and efficient than writing, but I am also wary for all of the reasons you would assume. A lot of people possess the will to pay complete attention while working on a computer, but then again, a whole lot of people don’t. That’s why I’ve taken to good old-fashioned notebooks for this semester, just like my poor mother had to do. If my grades don’t noticeably improve, though, you can bet that this girl is running straight back to the keyboard.
Another option I found is something called “Self-Control.” It’s an online app that blacklists distracting sites that you choose for a certain amount of time. There is absolutely no way for you to turn off the app either, so even if you choose to break down and check Twitter, you quite literally cannot. I found it to be incredibly helpful, because if you lack actual self-control like I do, downloading it off the Internet is a great option.
I think not using technology in school would be a waste, since it’s such an incredible resource. Maybe the more specific issue of computer usage in class is the real problem. As much as it pains me to write this because I sound like such a square, it really does make sense. Even “BuzzFeed kid” has to agree with that.
So, I implore you to join me, ditch the computer notes for a semester, pull out a pen and do this like our parents did. We all might be surprised at how much easier things become.
Email Lexi Godfrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.