Do universities 'impose' tech addictions on students?

Summary:Arguing the point that while academics harp on about student media addiction, universities are not exactly contributing to a solution by investing so heavily on technology.

Once again, the theory that all young people are addicted to online media has reared its ugly head.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent spoke to students who were part of the 'Unplugged' experiment, where for 24 hours students are asked not to consume any media - including television, Internet access, Facebook, mobile phones and the like.

Yet I would argue that while academics harp on about student media addiction, universities are not exactly contributing to a solution by investing so heavily in technological replacements for good old fashioned existing systems.

I know, it sounds crazy; a technology journalist and Generation Y member taking the Luddite high ground but for all intents and purposes, it is a bit ironic.

Students of the popular site thestudentroom.co.uk added to the discussion in light of this experiment; most believing they could find other things to do, but self-imposing a time limit of what would be deemed an acceptable amount of time offline.
University end-of-year exams are rarely taken online to protect academic integrity while reducing the chances of cheating. However coursework is often submitted through an online plagiarism detector, library computers replace indexes of where books are located, email is the primary communication used between staff and students (and often outsourced to Google or Microsoft), and mobile applications are being developed to branch out to the predominate iPhone student.

As a young person who invests heavily in the online communities to keep in touch with friends but also the news for my job, web access and technology is greatly important to me. Yet last Sunday, the broadband at home kicked out because of a line fault and I was left without access for the best part of half a day.

Granted, the painful 31 days that I was offline during a diplomatic crisis between two ISP's as I moved home was difficult, but the latter half of a day last week was made easier by the company of a close friend, a good bottle of red wine, chocolate cake and coffee so black and thick it was like drinking Plimsolls.

Plus with it being a Sunday, there was very little work to actually do.

So it is worth thinking about. Perhaps the new student intake this year, considered more Generation Z than Y, would have had a greater effect upon them if they were without computer or media access than someone like me who is a tad older.

But the argument that students who were not as exposed to online media before university as say, students who are starting university now or in the next few years, have had the technology 'addiction' perpetuated by necessary access to the evolutionary technological developments to existing university resources.

It probably wouldn't hold up as a basis for a doctoral thesis, but I am still of the opinion that this 'addiction' to social media, technology and the web is a social construction created by adults and the Generation X.

Controversial indeed.

Topics: iPhone, Broadband, Google, IT Employment, Microsoft, Mobility, Outsourcing, Smartphones

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.