The Internet: Beneficial or Counterproductive?

By Admir Milla

Power on. Enter password. Get rid of Adobe Reader update message. Double click Google Chrome. Scroll to address bar. Facebook.

Our generation has become overly dependent on the Internet.

As the years have gone by, it seems as though the Internet has made our lives easier. We have more means of communication, the World Wide Web is at our fingertips, and we finish our work more efficiently. Maybe.

Although the Internet has become commonplace, our generation exploits the tools it provides to the point where they become a hindrance.

Our online resources are a double-edged sword. The majority of teachers recognize that students use the Internet for research and study materials; however, they are also aware of certain pitfalls.

Mary Schiff, a chemistry teacher, says, “If they need it for legitimate research, it’s very useful, but a lot of them will just Google the answers to questions, or get the answers from their friends without trying.”

Some students agree with Schiff.

Dina Berliner ’13 says, “I feel like the Internet is obviously an extremely helpful tool, but I do understand that a lot of content is often plagiarized. I think it’s up to the student to be honest, and if not, teachers can easily catch them in the act.”

Although this technology should allow us to finish our work faster, perhaps the bigger dilemma we should address is how frequently students go online with the intent of doing an assignment, but get sidetracked on another website.

When students open their search engines, they are opening a Pandora’s box to all the distractions in the world. For each helpful website, there’s an equally distracting one.

Laura Chen ’13 says “Social network sites such as Facebook and Tumblr are the biggest distractions to students.”

Why do students feel the need to be constantly streaming social networking sites?

Francis Mayle, a Social Studies teacher, calls this a “constant compulsion to respond and connect.” Mayle compares our relationship with the Internet to Ivan Pavlov’s experiment with his pet dog. The physiologist would ring a bell and give his dog a treat. He did this repeatedly over a period of time. Pavlov would then ring the bell, without a treat present, and he found the dog would begin salivating, as if the treat had been shown to him.

The need to respond has infected the current generation of students, and the ease with which we can access the World Wide Web has made us somewhat lazy and complacent. Because we feel the Internet will drastically decrease the amount of time we spend on homework, students feel like procrastination in a viable option.

The only solution is better time management. So I challenge the student population. See how long you can go without getting distracted. If you can’t succeed, I’ll be on Facebook later tonight, and we can talk about it.

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