Managing Students in Tech Age Part 2

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in News | No Comments

The Dangers of Internet Dependence Among Students

First of all…this blog will throw out a lot stats on the dangers of tech dependence, but it is NOT anti-technology!  It’s just about addressing a healthy balance of the positives of technology.  They call us the “e-generation.” A generation of 70 million adults that according to research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, log on to the Internet every day to access e-mail, social networking sites, news and health reports, driving directions and movie times. We participate in auctions, research our genealogy, make travel plans, gamble, chat, make “friends”, and participate in an endless list of other online activities that have become a comfortable part of our daily life. And of course, download or view entertainment from the billions of choices available.

Technology makes our lives easier, faster and more efficient.  It also, however, can make our lives less connected, less authentic, less rich in laughter, emotion, less real conversation.  Treatment for anxiety disorders is 7 times any other period in history for young people.   Are your students locking themselves away from the world?  Is apathy impacting much more than event attendance?  Internet dependency has become a part of our lifestyle, especially our student lifestyle, but is relying on the Internet’s advantages a threat to our education? The fear is that with gradual improvements comes a gradual disappearance of the things that innovation leaves behind, like interpersonal contact.



A major issue effecting programming in the tech-age is internet dependency among a portion of your student audience.  Internet dependency may be one step toward Internet addiction, a disorder commonly linked to depression, social anxiety and financial problems, according to the Center for Online and Internet Addiction, a Web site that studies “the psychology of cyberspace.”  Unlike addiction, however, the term dependency affects a wider range of Internet users, who do not always identify with the negative symptoms of addiction. Dependency then, is harder to define as a problem, since it has become a consistent way of life for so many in the e-generation.

Statistical and Reported Dangers of Over-dependence on Technology:

  • Record levels of social anxiety disorders among 18-30 year olds.   Treated Social Anxiety Disorders are projected by some studies as being 7 times what they were 20 years ago before the widespread use of internet, instant/text messaging, email, and personal data devices.  SAD’s areindependently associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
  • Some studies project that technology dependence is directly correlated with the epidemic of binge drinking on campuses.  At least 20% of SAD patients also suffer from alcohol abuse.  High risk drinking results in higher instances of DUIs, unprotected sex, STDs, drop outs, property damage, violence, depression, eating disorders, suicide, mental health disorders, injury to others and themselves, grade decline.
  • The fact that date rapes and stalking are on the rise could be related to technology dependence among young people.  Students publish way too much private information about themselves.  Further, the increased percentage of communications via technology potentially diminish a person’s real face-to-face social skills, which in turn inhibits their ability to set or communicate boundaries.
  • Despite new techniques and the wide spread accessibility of assistance, average scores for literary comprehension and basic mathematical skills are down among young adults and school age children.
  • Identity theft.   A false sense of security leads to students posting information and secrets on line that they would never think of announcing over a microphone.  And yet, there are a billion users on Facebook alone, up from 8 million in 2006 when I originally started my LOL ed session.  And Instagram, at 2 ½ years old has 200 Million so far.
  • Lack of tone & body language minimizes quality of communication, increasing misunderstandings and diminishing the quality of relationship.

In addition to hard evidence, in interviewing advisors, professors, agents, hiring employers of college grads and students themselves, we heard overwhelmingly that:

● The majority of students today have lost the art of real conversation.  They converse instead in meaningless short hand with their thumbs.

● Students’ attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter.  The sheer # of choices, the overwhelming amount of information, and the media’s adaptation of rapid edits minimize the ability of young people to focus on tasks, making them less valuable employees and less well-rounded human beings.

● Much of our communication is reduced to words on a screen vs. real conversation, resulting in a decline of ethical behaviors.  It’s easier to lie to someone you cannot see.

● Numerous studies prove that limited human voice and physical contact among orphans during childhood significantly impairs long term ability to attach and form normal dependencies, thus affecting the formation of long term relationships the rest of their life.  The dependence upon technology versus face to face human contact could see an increase in these type of attachment disorders among mainstream society.

We can’t go back.   We are a generation unavoidably tied to the web. So how do we celebrate the benefits while minimizing the dependency, keeping ourselves healthy, safe and growing as human beings?  As programmers, we can address the dangers of over-dependency and help balance the lives of our campus community.

Next…managing student volunteers and programming ideas that help!