Do universities 'impose' tech addictions on students?

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 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, Microsoft, Mobility, Outsourcing, Smartphones, IT Employment

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  • The label addiction is coming from older types.

    The younger students don't think themselves addicted. But then again, that's like Alcoholics Anonymous, isn't it? The drinker doesn't think there's a problem. Other people, family and friends, do. It'll be the same with these damned phones and tablets.
  • Impulse Control Problems do not equal Addiction

    I like to play on-line games for a couple hours a day, or more; but that doesn't mean I'm addicted to them. Just like I love chocolate and have impulse control issues there. But I'm not ADDICTED to it.
  • Interesting Definition of Media

    evidently printed media is alright. as by extension would be fine arts, lectures, and other non electronic media. Hmm - no bias or reality distortion field at work there.
  • Feeding the Addiction

    Good point Zack. If there is growing concern over internet addiction why create more reasons to be addicted? Pretty much our entire lives are integrated by technology. I would love to disconnect but I need the internet to do my job and get some classwork done. Getting money and being educated is important to me and while older generations may think I'm addicted, this is what I need to do to live. I guess it is a generational thing, I grew up knowing how to use the internet and they didn't. This reminds me of a poll I found this morning, . Like a lot of other young people, I'd probably have withdrawal symptoms too if I had to go without my smartphone.
  • It is a hard question, really.

    As a Gen X I grew up with out a computer in the house until I was a senior in high school. They were around but my family just couldn't afford one until then. So from my point of view, the level of tech addiction is ridiculous. But that is only a generational viewpoint and not even shared by some of the same generation.

    What really really upsets me is phone use on dates. Nothing turns me off quicker than a woman who would rather text/network/talk on the phone than be engaged in our date. The first time she whips out her smartphone to text, I assume I am boring and I offer to take her home. Even when it's agreed to just be on a date and not be on the phone, it never works out. I have had women hide phones under tables, or they go into the bathroom 10 times. I usually just give up and end the date. I will never be able to compete with an entire social network so I just give up quick, go home and read a good book (hard cover paper copy).

    I don't consider myself a Luddite but I can unplug for days with out a problem. I also think tech should be a tool to make my life better, not a replacement for human contact.
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