Does Technology Truly Benefit Our Society?

“I think it’s terrible, absolutely serious, I think it is the biggest distraction, people can’t concentrate, I’d prefer students don’t use technology at all until high school.” — are the words of Grant Besner, a teacher at NSU University School regarding technology in the classroom environment.

When I was thinking about what to write for this week’s blog post, I had the thought “What would this past year have looked like without modern technology like computers, smartphones, and zoom?”. The more I thought about it, the harder I found it to concentrate on other things. After letting my mind wander for a little while, I settled on the question, “Does technology truly benefit our society?”

When I was looking into what I could use as factual evidence for this post, I came across a few really good articles by The New York Times and other creditable sources such as spaceiq.com. They all talked about how technology has been a blessing and helped so many students in the education space. They also talk about how it has allowed students to continue schooling from home if they don’t feel comfortable being physically in the classroom during the pandemic. In the workspace technology has also allowed the option of working from home. Spaceiq.com, gives the example “Take something as simple as CC’ing 10 people on an email instead of printing 10 copies of a memo and sending it through interoffice mail. It’s an everyday thing, but nonetheless amazing in context.” On the other hand, I found sources stating that technology in the classroom environment has been a major distraction due to its ability to connect us with over a billion other daily users and almost all retailers and service groups across the world. According to ViewSonic Library, “Research suggests that during class time, 42% of the time that students spend on their smartphones in the classroom, it was to text, tweet, or otherwise engage in social media rather than the lesson.” This prompted me to find a person with first hand experience teaching children in a modern classroom — Grant Besner, a NSU University school educator spoke to me about his personal experience teaching a large group of 8th grade students and how technology has made it both easier and much much harder for him to teach this year.

During my conversation with Mr. Besner, he raised the idea multiple times that he thinks entrusting 8th graders with their own education is not a great idea due to a majority of them not being responsible enough. He has found they will do other things such as online shopping or web browsing when they should be doing work. Mr. Besner believes that at this age, kids are just not yet mature enough to be held responsible for their actions and should be given paper assignments until at least the beginning of high school possibly even 10th grade.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I am personally pro technology due to its ability to simplify certain aspects of our lives like everyday chores such as cleaning and preparing food. These tasks used to take up good portions of the day but without them we can turn our minds to things like world issues such as global warming and pollution or finding out what is beyond this planet. I understand the points that can be made about technology in the classroom not necessarily be the best thing for students with all the distractions it offers, but imagine a world where to communicate from a distance you had to send a letter that could take multiple days, even a week to reach the other person. Now compare that to sending a message through your smartphone from any point in the world to another in less than a second. Or if you wanted to search up how something worked that already existed for a project, you would have to be driven to a library (which may not be open during a pandemic) then spend hours digging through books at the library hoping that there would be a book or paragraph about the subject you are trying to learn about. With technology such as laptops and computers, you are just a google search away from hundreds of sources. That is the true power of technology and that is why I think technology will only start to increase its role in our daily life.

Going back to the words of Grant Besner, I believe technology is a powerful tool that when used correctly has the ability to exponentially accelerate humanity’s development as a species, but with all that power comes great responsibility. Although technology is great and can do so many amazing things for us we must be aware that it also has the potential to be a very bad thing and become a burden or blockade to our success on a personal level, and as a species if we allow it to distract us from our growth. Because after all, if the team of scientists who worked on developing the COVID vaccines had spent less time in the lab and more time watching kitten videos — where would we be now?

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