The Tyranny of Technology

By Leigh Alon
Published: December 2010

As I look down at my neurobiology notes about Attention Deficit Disorder medication, it is ironic that my own brain cannot focus on the task at hand.
Every few seconds my computer emits the popping noise with which every teenager is undoubtedly familiar, and a red icon appears alerting me I have received a new Facebook chat.
It should be easy enough to close the computer or ignore the new messages in favor of studying, but somehow the lure of constant communication is simply too hard to overcome.
And there may very well be a scientific basis for how strongly I, along with many other high school students, am drawn so strongly to my technology.
In a recent New York Times spread on the effects of growing up with technology on the minds of kids, Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Michael Rich said teenagers’ “brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.
This constant switching of tasks, such as one between texting friends and using Facebook, fuel my frustration and addiction with technology.
“The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently, Rich said.
Indeed, I am personally guilty of pathological multitasking. I watch T.V. while doing homework and am often on Facebook, YouTube, or my latest Internet gem at the same time.
While I complain of lack of sleep constantly’€I get an average of about five hours a night, deep down I know neither my homework nor the college process.
I cannot count the number of times I have come home to a truly inconsequential bit of homework only to find myself scrambling to complete it at 11 PM and then having to wake up an hour early to finish it.
Even if I tear myself away from technology long enough to begin my homework at a reasonable hour, my meager bit of willpower does not stand a chance against the magnetic pull of Facebook and its myriad of features to distract me every few moments, resulting in roughly the same homework start time of 11 PM.
I am not alone. A student recently described to me how she had taken a day off from school because she had not been able to bring herself to write an essay the night before.
She did not end up beginning her essay until the morning after her day off.
Some determined students have put their lives in the hands of their friends and asked them to change their password until they have completed a crucial assignment or studied for an exam.
Others have even asked their parents to take away some of their technological distractions.
For the vast majority of students who grew up with the quick gratification Silicon Valley has bestowed upon the youth of the twenty first century, technological addiction has always been and remains a struggle.
Time of article completion: 6:23 AM.

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