Information Overload

Information Overload

Is technology affecting your academic performance?

By Emi Yasuda 

            When was the last time you checked a due date on your phone, or googled a fact on your computer? Only a few years ago, programs like these were not possible. Today, however, they are having a major impact on our everyday lives.

Throughout recent years, social media use has skyrocketed. With most people checking their phones over 50 times a day, it is no wonder that researchers are questioning its effects on school. However, taking into account the increasing integration of technology in the classroom and the use of social media for academic collaboration, is this technology ultimately improving or hurting your GPA?

Despite constantly being labeled as a source of distraction, social media is a tool through which millions of students can connect worldwide. The ability to communicate with people around the globe has made vast seas of information available at our fingertips, and opened up many amazing opportunities unique to this age of connectivity. For instance, programs like InterPal allow foreign language students worldwide to practice their language of choice, and with the click of a button, international pen pals can talk face to face in video calls or even text for free. Such programs can have a positive impact on both written and verbal language skills.

Social media is also regularly used by schools and even in the classroom. In fact, over 98% of colleges and universities use some form of social media. Even the most prestigious universities create “Mascot Pages” to help increase school spirit. Many teachers also use social media or programs like Remind101 and Canvas as a way to inform students of upcoming assignments, due dates, and grades. Still, the question remains- is all this interconnectivity really having a positive effect on your GPA?

Some studies have shown that having information so readily at hand can negatively impact memory and overall brain function. A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin presented 40 pieces of trivia to two groups, such as “An ostrich’s eyeball is bigger than its brain.” One of the groups was told that the information would eventually be erased; the other was told that they would be able to access the information later on. At the end of the study, it was found that the first group better retained the knowledge than the second. These results suggest that students’ reliance upon devices and tools to help them remember information could lead to a decreased ability to retain information without the aid of the device.

Technology has been shown to possess other profound effects on memory. The information overload experienced from constant interaction with social media makes it harder for the brain to process and store information. Though abundant information may ostensibly seem like a blessing, it can often make it more difficult to retain knowledge. Some have even gone as far as comparing the Internet to the brain’s “external hard drive.”

Constant connectivity has also been linked to stress. In recent Swedish studies, dozens of alarming connections have been found between heavy technology use, stress, sleep disorders, and even depression. One of these studies discovered that people who use cell phones and computers with greater-than-average frequency have an increased likelihood of reporting poor sleep or insomnia. In addition, an association between high stress and blood pressure was found in people who use computers without a break for longer periods of time and with greater regularity. Though the links between these health effects have not yet been solidified, the growing health hazard posed by overreliance on technology could potentially be leading to higher levels of forgetfulness and increasing problems for the so-called “Facebook Generation.”

So, in the end, though technology may possess many benefits, there are also undeniable drawbacks to its usage.

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One response to “Information Overload

  1. Pingback: February 2014 Full Issue | The Bolt·

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