Technology: Academic Friend or Foe?

Image source: Beachcomber archives.

Image source: Beachcomber archives.

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by Eva Muschkin, Staff Writer

(“Internet Distractions” collage by Or Bairey-Sehayek)

The Internet provides a social network for most BHS students.  It is also a great source for research, communication, grades, and assignments.

The social uses of the Internet often compete with the academic ones. For example, trying to complete assignments while logged onto Facebook causes distraction for many.

In a focus group of 12 BHS students, one in four said that they keep Facebook open while completing assignments, although more than half occasionally go on to see if they have any new notifications about pictures or wall-posts.

Sophomore Esmé Eppell admits, “Facebook is a huge distraction for me while I do my homework.”  She is definitely not the only one.

When teenagers first go home, the first page open is usually some kind of social networking page.  There are always new events, groups, and pictures posted on which everyone wants to be updated.

“I usually procrastinate when I get home by automatically going on Facebook. It’s so addicting,” said junior Maxie Novinc.

Procrastinating is not always intentional, but sometimes there is not enough time set aside for meeting both social and academic obligations. It is still the beginning of the school year, and kids are still trying to prioritize their schoolwork with their social networking time.

As students get older and assignments get harder, everything takes longer. Everyone finds a balance and routine at some point, but it all starts with organization.  Between athletics, home obligations, jobs, and other commitments that students are overwhelmed with, a balance must be found somewhere once students learn for themselves about what works best.

There is a lot of pressure on students to do well in school, but procrastinating by going on the Internet sometimes allows students escape from their homework into the huge world of social networking.

Some parents use scare tactics by wanting their kids to succeed in school.  Janisse Marblestone said, “I periodically monitor my kids to make sure they are not using Facebook at the same time as doing their homework because it is a distraction.”

Several parents don’t understand why their kids need to chat with friends on Facebook after seeing them all day at school.  The truth is, students have very limited social time within the school day and social networking is the first chance they get to talk to friends that were not seen throughout the school day.

Although the social network is a distraction to many students, it can be used beneficially by asking homework questions to friends or people in the same classes forming study groups online for incoming tests.

BHS teachers use web sites such as Blackboard to post documents, Powerpoints, and homework assignments, so that students can keep up-to-date.  There are also links to many great resources for projects or research papers under the Beachwood Library page.

“I love being able to check my grades whenever and wherever I want through eSIS,” said senior Jenna Gordon.

Some classes still use book assignments.  When the Internet is inaccessible or uncooperative, textbooks are always there.  Non-computer assignments don’t distract kids as easily, although it would not be surprising if all class assignments can be done online in the near future.

“I often multi-task by doing homework with my right hand and type on Facebook with my other hand, so I don’t waste much time,” said junior Lee Akrish.  However, this is rare among most high school students who are likely to perform one task at a time.

Facebook is a great way to talk to friends and maintain relationships with people, but it is important for teenagers to know when it is time to shut down the social network and focus on their homework, because it will ultimately help to create a more effective school lifestyle.

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