Technology: A social interaction or distraction?


Tweets, texts, blogs, posts and status updates have become a part of students’ daily lives, but for some it may be an obsession.

Many Florida A&M students use smartphones and other devices to access social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But the abundance of these gadgets is not limited to students. Many professors use Blackboard, a tool created by an education technology company, to inform students, make announcements, post documents, set deadlines, post grades and interact with students.

According to the 2012 Nielsen Social Media Report, the minutes spent on social media increased by 36.9 percent from 88.48 minutes in 2011 to 121.18 minutes in 2012.

Will the constant use of technology be beneficial or detrimental to students in the long run?
Seward Hamilton, associate professor of psychology, said he is pro-technology, but he is concerned when he sees students using different technological devices in the classroom that have no “utility.”

Hamilton said he questions whether students are taking full advantage of technology and believes it may be distracting them from grasping the information in the classroom. He also feels that the use of technology is hindering development of relationships among students.

“I find them disconnecting,” Hamilton said. “Because they cannot build relationships among their immediate peers; colleagues that it can really be used for.”

However, Raven Howard, a junior psychology student from Orlando, Fla., said she feels as if she is addicted to technology because she is always on her phone. She said technology may have negative affects on students’ studies.

“It can be negative because being on phone can be a distraction from you paying attention in class,” Howard said. “When you get home, you get on your laptop, you get on Twitter, Facebook, and that’s hindering you from studying time you could be using.”

Andrea Parker, a first-year graduate community psychology student from Tampa, Fla., said she doesn’t think technology causes people to fail classes. She believes the use of technology enhances issues, such as attention problems, that were already there by providing a distraction for students who are not interested in a particular course.

Parker added that technology has made staying in touch with someone more convenient but investing time in knowing someone intimately is no longer required.

“I think it’s made students who may be shy connect with others a little bit more,” she said. “So it’s given a platform for people who may not be outgoing and extroverted to actually reach out to additional people. But I think at the same time it’s weakened the depth of our relationships with other people in our interactions.”