Facebook vs Homework

Is Social Media Distracting School Children?

I noticed an interesting report on the BBC news website a month ago or so. The article explored the growing trend of excessive use of social media distracting school children. It states that many parents find it hard to regulate how their children use the internet. Many will say things like: “There have always been distractions. I can remember being told off for reading Jackie magazine inside my textbooks”. So, in this article, I’m going to pose the question has anything really changed?

I can remember – quite vividly – sitting and reading the Beano instead of learning my times tables. However, looking to today, it’s easy to see that the impact that technology has had on the way we are taught at school. As well as the impact it’s had on so many other parts of society and our lives as a whole.

Let’s look first at how we connect with this media.

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

Dopamine

my favourite subject and one that I am sure we can all relate to. Many of us are now are in constant need of a dopamine hit (instant gratification). This can be easily achieved by using apps. It’s one area that academia struggles to compete with. Getting a good mark for our English essay would give us a hit. But it’s far from instant. We usually have to wait until the teacher marks our work.

Connection

We are connecting with more people than ever before. This also means that we’re used to obtaining validation from more people. The validation/results we get on social media often overshadow what we get 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?

  1. For that 60% I speak of, is it guaranteed? The virtual world is governed by algorithms that are man-made and predictable (computer games and social media etc.). Therefore, is following the rules of a game (where we are guaranteed the results we set out to achieve) more certain than the unpredictability of the academic world
  2. Even if we mess up in the virtual world, we can always use an extra life or hit the reset 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, and then not getting the desired results on something that we put time and effort into writing
  3. Technology is a great way of running from the feelings of pressure and failure. It helps us give distance to our anxieties while also delivering a quick shot of dopamine when we really need it

The effects of social media distracting kids

What is the effect of this? Is social media distracting our kids? Many parents worry about 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 about constant stimulation, this is just one aspect of how technology has impacted our lives. We live in a world with so much stimulus it’s 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. It’s becoming increasingly backwards 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. Unfortunately, many children have not developed the self-discipline to complete the homework, which to be frank, they would rather not be doing.

The end 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 soothe our stress while massaging our egos’.

How many similarities can you spot in this article? I would love to know your thoughts. What are your thoughts on social media distracting children?

Philip Karahassan

Therapy in London

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