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Student Opinion: Is the Internet teaching young people not to think?

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I grew up hearing, "Figure it out, but don't look it up." I could use this advice when I'm tempted to turn to a search engine for answers. Should all of us limit our use of technology?

Nicholas Carr, the author of "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," says that we should take some time away from screens. According to Carr, "Deep thinking, brain scientists have discovered, happens only when our minds are calm and attentive."

It is difficult to focus while using the Internet. On top of all the distracting notifications and advertisements, there's also the tendency to start surfing on websites from one topic to another.

I know what it's like to look up a question and end up skimming through unrelated information. Some people might not even notice when they start mindlessly scrolling and clicking. Our digital generation uses the Internet as a second brain.

Mindless Scrolling

It's as if the Internet overtakes our thoughts, even when we're not using technology. Matt Richtel wrote an article called "Attached to Technology and Paying a Price." He mentions that most computer users switch between tabs and webpages almost every two minutes!

The temptation to know more information creates an impulse to scroll through it all.

Some might say that sites such as Google have positive effects on their users. While it's true that the Internet gives us answers quickly and reliably, it's not something to get into a habit of doing. It doesn't do much harm to look up some facts every once in a while, but we forget things because we can get the answers so easily.

In "Cognitive Offloading: How the Internet is Changing the Human Brain," Philip Perry discusses issues affecting our memory. He describes a test that compared two groups. One group couldn't use any sort of device to answer questions. The other group was allowed to use Google. The group that had access to their smartphones immediately looked up answers on the Internet. The group without smartphones were quicker at answering questions because they didn't reach for their smartphones.

Everyone knows that the Internet makes problem-solving easier, but is it too easy?

A Support For Learning

David Price, a guest blogger on a website called techaddiction, says that teaching may be getting easier with Google because parents can now use the Internet to help with their kids' homework. This led me to think about how schools make us memorize facts and equations even though we have apps to solve problems.

Why should people have to remember all that when they could turn to Google instead? We have to at least attempt to use our minds for problem-solving so we don't forget how to do so.

If we always turn to technology for answers, we'll never learn anything on our own.

An example is when my class had a math test and we were allowed to use calculators. Most of us used it at every opportunity even though everyone in that room was capable of solving each problem. The Internet is like that because we know the answers to many of the questions we search. We use technology because we can get the answers and don't want to be wrong.

Not all ways to use technology are negative. Though adults and children use the same type of devices, they use different content.

Adults likely use more apps such as the calendar, notes, reminders and news articles. Kids and teenagers probably use more apps for messages, games and streaming sites.

I understand that the problems with technology are only when it is used in a certain way, but the positives of technology don't erase the negatives. We can delete or use fewer of those apps that won't help us improve.

I'm convinced that technology is not as unproductive as many people say. However, it's not the solution to every problem.

Find Time For Other Activities

It's time to take a step back from technology and take a break from our devices by doing hobbies such as reading, drawing or playing sports.

This generation may have been born into a digital world, but we can set the next generation up for success. We can start by teaching them how to use technology productively and responsibly.

Julienne Vicente is an 11-year-old middle schooler who lives in San Diego, California. She uses technology daily. However, she still finds ways to spend her time with her friends and family. And there's always time to read a book or go outside.


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