Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Internet Diet: are we eating too much?

As students we often go onto the internet in a rare urge of motivation to get some work done, though all too often we find ourselves being side tracked by other topics and more entertaining content available on the web. There is such a plethora of knowledge available it is all too easy to get seduced by more exciting items. We are also constantly encouraged to multi-task; with the option to open up new tabs and windows to follow up thoughts instantly. Is this encouraging us to become too erratic with our train of thoughts and destroy our concentration levels? It could be argued that the ability to multi-task is a good skill to possess and develop. Though in the majority of cases it just aids distraction and procrastination as people tend to be more motivated to allocating their time to things that require less cognitive activity and far more enjoyment for example spoof videos on youtube.

Is this causing a stem of the dumbing-down syndrome that ITV and other TV channels were accused of? Are we being less productive or is it just a shift in the definition of productivity. Should we be encouraging more engagement in social media- uploading videos, writing blogs, filing out personal profiles and reading less credible articles to develop a more critical view on society or is it merely just sensationalism, an updated version of watching the film instead of reading the book?
In regards to education- the internet has provided children and students alike with a cheat way of accessing information with less effort needed, the term ‘google it’ has often been given as advice for not knowing the answer to a question. With podcasts, reviews and articles on a whole array of subjects available online it is now possible to get a crash course in just about anything without doing the extensive research into a topic or reading the original literature as was once vital to do. Have children got it easier? And are we becoming lazier?

Or have we in fact become more sophisticated in managing extensive volumes of information and becoming more critical in our evaluation of what is a credible source? Possibly, though a more likely answer would be that we rely on Google to do this job for us.

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