Is technology ruining children?
It seems increasingly normal (and acceptable) that our youngsters can’t spell, can’t converse, don’t exercise, don’t engage (at school, at home, or socially) and are generally consumed by a virtual reality where pixels replace people, places and practicality. Technology is typically the culprit fingered by the grown-ups.
It doesn’t sound promising, does it? Not to most of us who are old enough to remember a world before the Internet. Yet I recently found myself playing devil’s advocate in the debate, arguing that this trend represents evolution rather than regression.
For example, many of my peers are horrified by the abbreviation of words and phrases to abstruse acronyms and crude codes by a generation of txters, IMers and BBMers, or the omission of punctuation altogether. But put this in perspective, Shakespeare would wince at common practices in written communication of recent generations. Are we really naïve enough to believe that communication has been perfected to the point that its evolution is no longer appropriate?
How much faster younger people communicate, facilitated by technology and shorthand. How much more news they absorb thanks to the ambient and multi-channel nature of social media. How much more quickly they can process and respond as a result of communication saturation and (I’ll risk it) gaming (there, I said it). How much more knowledgeable they are as a result of instant access to information. No, it’s not in their heads, but why should it be? So much of it’s out of date as soon as it’s learned. And if the key to thriving in a rapidly evolving and ever more complex society is possessing the skills to adapt, then surely the ability to find and process information is far more vital than the retention of stale facts?
You see, the LOLers and OMGers of today will be the business leaders of tomorrow. And in a world that will be changing at a rate that is beyond the comprehension of their parents, it’s probably a good job too. The speed of business in 10 to 15 years from now probably won’t allow them the luxury of full-stops, commas, expansive formal speak and physical meetings. That’s evolution baby.
This may be a black eye for the purists and the culturalists, and even the more blinkered academics, but it’s an inevitability which warrants some careful consideration about what goes on in the classroom and how we prepare our children for what lies ahead.
Now, where did I put my copy of ‘The Tempest’?