The Greatest Generation (of Networkers)


As the debate continues on the pros and cons of media multitasking, the article below offers a balanced perspective:

“This generation has a gift for multitasking, and because they’ve integrated technology into their lives, their ability to remain connected to each other will serve them and their employers well. Others contend that these hyper-socializers are serial time-wasters, that the bonds between them are shallow, and that their face-to-face interpersonal skills are poor.”

What does the research show? According to this article:

“Young workers spend more time than older workers socializing via their devices or entertaining themselves online. In a 2008 survey for, 53% of those under age 24 said this was their primary “time wasting” activity while at work, compared to just 34% for those between ages 41 and 65. Online social networking while at work hampers business productivity, according to a new study by Nucleus Research. Almost two-thirds of those with Facebook accounts access them at their workplaces, the study found, which translates to a 1.5% loss of total employee productivity across an organization.

A study this year by psychology students at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga., found that the more time young people spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to have lower grades and weaker study habits. Heavy Facebook users show signs of being more gregarious, but they are also more likely to be anxious, hostile or depressed. (Doctors, meanwhile, are now blaming addictions to “night texting” for disturbing the sleep patterns of teens.)”

In his book, OUTLIERS, Malcom Gladwell explores the work of Dr. Alan Schoenfeld, a math professor at Berkeley, who studied and videotaped countless students working on math problems. What he found, is that successful students were willing to take up to twenty minutes or more trying to figure out a problem through persisting, experimenting, reviewing the issues, trying a new tact, thinking out loud and simply not giving up. Success, according to Schoenfeld, is a function of persistence and not quitting—a willingness to work for twenty-two minutes when most people would give up after thirty seconds. This principal applies to any area of learning or school work. Only with mastery can the time to do tasks be shortened.

How much is texting promoting the instant gratification tendency which flies in the face of working twenty-two minutes on something whether it is math, or putting together a model airplane, sewing a dress or fixing a broken lamp? How much are our students willing to take the time to work towards mastery and to what extent might a preponderance of social networking threaten students’ ability to do quality work, follow-through and gain real understanding?

The Greatest Generation (of Networkers)
by Jeffrey Zaslow
Wall Street Journal

A 17-year-old boy, caught sending text messages in class, was recently sent to the vice principal’s office at Millwood High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The vice principal, Steve Gallagher, told the boy he needed to focus on the teacher, not his cellphone. The boy listened politely and nodded, and that’s when Mr. Gallagher noticed the student’s fingers moving on his lap.

He was texting while being reprimanded for texting.

“It was a subconscious act,” says Mr. Gallagher, who took the phone away. “Young people today are connected socially from the moment they open their eyes in the morning until they close their eyes at night. It’s compulsive.”

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