Technology: Time saver or time waster?

By Nick Stern, Staff Reporter

A plethora of gadgets and electronics seem to now dominate in today’s society especially with students, and when students come to class, there is most likely to be an electronic device in hand, said Liberal Arts major Erik Neumann.
Devices such as smartphones, MP3 players and laptops are especially prevalent among students attending college, Neumann said.
“It is next to impossible to be on campus and not see someone on an electronic device of some sort. Even though students can benefit greatly from much of the information and technology at their disposal, it is important for them to recognize the potential these devices have for being a complete distraction and waste of time,” Neumann said.
In the majority of his courses, Neumann notices increasing numbers of students using electronic devices in the classroom from the moment class begins until it ends, he said.
Neumann said he notices many students appear to be taking and organizing notes with their devices such as tablets, laptops and even smartphones which he believes is a great idea. The problem is that while professors tend to be more lenient toward the use of electronics in their courses, students are taking advantage of such leniency and wasting class time on distractions such as social networks, games and movies, right in the middle of class, Neumann said.
“I have lost count of how many times I have seen students watching Netflix, checking Facebook or surfing the internet for just about anything that has absolutely nothing to do with the class they are in,” Neumann said.
Dr. Felecia Caton-Garcia, CHSS instructor, teaches a class in pop culture, in which technology and the use of technology is a part of what is taught in that class, she said.
Garcia recognizes that some students will abuse the option to use devices in her classroom by looking at things that have nothing to do with the class she is teaching, she said.
However, she is reluctant to ban laptops in her classroom because she recognizes how convenient and useful they can make classroom lectures go and how, for some students, the devices actually act as a learning aid, Caton-Garcia said.
She also has a strict “do not be on your phone” policy in class with very reasonable exceptions that require the student to communicate with her and let her know what is going on in advance, she said.
“I give my students a chance to liberate themselves from their cell phones for two and a half hours a week. In class, it is very important to me that my student speak to one another and small group discussions are a huge part of all my classes and in order to be fully engaged and fully present they cannot be dividing their attention,” Garcia said.
Caton-Garcia believes that one of the functions of college is to make people come into contact with others who have completely different experiences and beliefs and get different perspectives from communication with each other, she said.
“Social networking allows you to screen out all the people who do not agree with you and I think it gives people a really narcissistic and solipsistic idea that the world is just how they imagine it, when it is not,” Caton-Garcia said.
Psychology major, Carly Barnes said that she likes to go on Pinterest three to four hours a week, but can be a problem since she does not ever pin anything school related.
Pinterest is addicting for her because it is a social network where people basically put up just about anything they find interesting for other people to look at online, Barnes said. Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing site that creates theme-based image collections according to the Pinterest site.
“I do not recommend it for students because you will get so distracted from school and waste so much time that you will never get anything accomplished,” she said.
Despite the warning to other students, Barnes believes Pinterest is definitely worth the time she spends on there because she does find some of the information useful, she said.
She has even gotten school tips from Pinterest, but unfortunately the vast majority of her time is spent looking at “stupid stuff,” she said.
Criminology major McKinley Smith said Tumblr and Netflix are her biggest distractions and tend to come before her responsibilities, because the very first things she said she does whenever she gets home from work or school is to get on these sites.
Tumblr is a short-form blog that lets users post and share blogs according to the Tumblr site.
“They certainly can take stress off if you are trying to get through school stuff, as long as they are used in moderation, which is not that hard. It is easy to wean yourself off, but when you go back you get sucked in again,” she said.

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