Homework VS Facebook

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I noticed an interesting report on the BBC news website a month ago or so concerning a growing trend of excessive use of social media by school children while doing online homework. It states that many parents try and control their children but find it hard to regulate how they use the internet. I can hear many of you say the same as one parent who says:  “There have always been distractions. I can remember being told off for reading Jackie magazine inside my textbooks.”  So, has anything changed?

I agree with this statement and can remember quite vividly sitting reading the Beano myself rather than learning my times tables. However, technology has not only had an impact on education and the way we are taught and learn at school (look at services like ielts essay correction, for example) but also on many other parts of society and therefore our lives as a whole.

In order to understand why our children are becoming compelled to look at social media I think we must look at how they connect with this media.

Why kids would rather be on Facebook than doing school work.

  1.  Lets first discuss Dopamine, my favourite subject and one that I am sure we can all relate to. Many now are in  constant need of a dopamine hit (instant gratification) which can be easily accessed from apps such as Candy Crush and connecting with our friends from our use of social media. This is one area which academia struggles to compete with as getting a good mark for our English essay would give us a hit but it’s far from instant as we must wait until the teacher decides to mark our work.
  2. We are connecting with more people than ever before and so we are used to obtaining validation from more people, but also from people with the same mind-set as ours (our friends and not our teachers). The results we get on social media are more in-tune with what we want out of life while at school. We get 60% from a school teacher for our homework rather than 600 likes from our online ‘friends’ on Facebook. How can school compete with that?
  3. That 60% I speak of, is it guaranteed? The virtual world is governed by laws which are man-made and predictable (computer games and social media etc.). It is therefore more certain that if we follow the rules of a game we are guaranteed the results we set out to achieve rather than the unpredictability of the academic world.
  4. Even if we mess up in the virtual world, we can always use an extra life or hit the re-set switch. Many are being brought up never having to lose or start from the beginning so just think of the turmoil of having to start from scratch on a piece of homework that we put time and effort into writing.
  5. On the note of failure and also pressure, as I discussed in my previous blog article (what are we running from), technology is a great way of running from it and giving distance to our anxieties while also delivering a quick shot of dopamine when we really need it.

What is the effect of this? The aforementioned article mentions many parents worrying of the lack of self-discipline in their children by connecting to non-curricular activities rather than doing their homework, but as I have shown in my other posts, this is just one aspect of how technology has impacted our lives. We live in a world with so much stimulus its quite normal to be flicking from app to app, have 3 or 4 conversations on the go, or even be doing 2 or 3 pieces of work simultaneously. Its becoming increasingly backward and ‘prehistoric’ to just be doing one thing at a time. We feel we are missing out if we are not doing more than one thing at once but unfortunately many children have not developed the self discipline to complete the home work, which to be frank, they would rather not be doing.

So who can blame them for having a couple of looks on Facebook or play a quick game with their friends while doing their homework as it is aiding them in a different way, a way that many children see as more important than finishing ‘Mr Yazdi’s Year 3 IT coursework’.

The ending of my previous blog post read ‘It seems then that the use of technology is a way to distance ourselves from stress and anxiety of our lives, all while gaining tiny spikes of dopamine to sooth our stress while massaging our egos. (how much do you see this chiming with the list above?

I would love to know your thoughts

Philip Karahassan

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