The current generation of teenagers fall under the direct impact of social media, internet and the world of information technology. As a teacher, I do observe a marked difference in the quality of students over the span of two and a half decades. Their psychology as teenagers, moral values, consideration for others, empathy, sense of duty, planning and organised work and time management are slowly fading away, due to their constant association with the hi-tech world.
Formative ages are fundamentally meant for a strong mental and physical growth that would benefit the individual in the long run. Nuclear families have left the children at the disposal of the network that keeps them disconnected from human relationships around. The physical presence of people in the family goes unnoticed.
Even as information mongers from the network students seem to keep away from print media and hence language suffers a great set back in both the spoken as well as the written word. Reading habit has gone minimal and students exhibit a void in vocabulary whileexhibiting facts and expressing views. They are either too lazy to write or lack ability to put forth views as they don’t prefer visiting libraries or listen to the spoken word that enhances knowledge.
As classrooms witness the paradigm shift in teaching methodologies using smart boards, apart from advantages there are some disadvantages worth mentioning when the audio-visual impact suffers a defeat by giving little opportunity for a child to recall or read from a text. Assimilation of a text from a smart board or the internet might not permit retention in the long run. For the child is always ready for the next colourful feature rather than fact on the smart board.
Dealing with health hazards due to constant exposure to internet and the social media is yet another aspect to be viewed seriously. Less physical activity leads to obesity. Easy social contacts distract learning. The family is unable to have a control over the activities on the internet. Odd hours of sleep, obesity, lack of appetite due to inactivity leads to health complications that affect progress in their career. The age is such they are unable to stop their use of the Internet with worthy and informative sites alone.
Assimilation of a text from a smart board or the internet might not permit retention in the long run. For the child is always ready for the next colourful feature rather than fact on the smart board.
The commercials that frequent every program on television, exhibits uncalled for body language, violence and causes a great deal of confusion in children who are unable to distinguish between right and wrong, the dos and the donts in life. Social media does not cater to age appropriate programs. Children watch scenes too early and consequently go through emotional patches, depression and stress unwilling to share it with elders at home.
Cut copy paste seems to be the order of the day with little or no individuality on the part of either the student or the facilitators who lead the child to search for resources of learning or experience learning by doing. No learning centre demands perfection at one stroke. Without committing errors no learning experience is complete. Whether at the primary or advanced learning the search must be absolute and individual based, rather than downloading material stated by other individuals and presenting as work completed without gaining knowledge or sharpening wits. Human efficiency seems to drop at many places when quantity increases without quality and time factor is a threat in the present scenario where everyone is preoccupied with their own work forgetting responsibilities at home and job sites where existence is almost mechanical with little or no commitment.
I experience children displaying an attitudinal change when the human being, a teacher can gratify curiosity by way of simple explanations and the book be translated in simpler terms in the same language to understand facts before exploring fields. Constant exposure to silent words on screen not only brings down the quality of learning but also deprives the child of the human touch which is highly recommended for intellectual growth and organised living with a determination to put up with difficulties and the child to realise that life isn’t always smooth sailing and that experiences are better teachers than processed knowledge that hardly gives an opportunity to view underlying facts of life. It can often be noticed that whatever the child witnesses through internet or media has its impact all through its growth period speaking for the truth that formative age has gone by unmonitored.
It can often be noticed that whatever the child witnesses through internet or media has its impact all through its growth period speaking for the truth that formative age has gone by unmonitored.
As facilitators in a classroom, teachers are aware of the fact that first impression is the best impression, right or wrong. When children have already learnt the wrong and made it a habit, it is not easy to help them unlearn the wrong. The erratic and unwarranted speed of the media is such that too much is watched, partly absorbed too little assimilated. When it is age inappropriate the child experiences the burden of the trash accumulated to make life complex.
The entry of the internet and the media is officially a necessity but the child lock system should be secure to enable children enjoy childhood with the required innocence and try our level best to keep enthusiasm intact with the urge to know. This will not only ensure a wholesome life but also an extended release of facts, morals, ethics, values and cherished memories as life unveils on its own accord rather than skip stages to get to the facts. Reality shows stand testimony to the parents’ anxiety in making a child popular before its limbs have the sufficient growth and strength to stand the strain of a performance. They weep on screen when a child is eliminated. This embarrasses both the audience and the participant. A performance is not a life and death issue. It is only a chance. Why haven’t the parents realised that failure is a part of growing up? What is the future of the children who grow to run families with such non-ethical backgrounds? Who should a 4 or a 5 year old satisfy? What is the message for the teenagers who watch shows which reveal highly personal emotions and exchanges? It is time for the makers of the reality shows to realise its adverse effects on children and restructure display of events and episodes to build a better nation without mutilating intellectual growth when it is still a bud.
Social media affects teenagers to a great extent, as age related expectation, to be popular, to be assessed for the number of followers brings in the element of heroism, when it becomes too late to realise that they have been trapped by depression and psychological set back that hinders progress be it academics or seeking jobs at any sector.
Teenagers should strike a balance between the reality and social network to save themselves from falling a victim to the ill-effects of the social media. To fulfil this they require a sound education and advice.
About the Author:
Dr. Jeyashree Marthandam is a State level key resource person for English and a PG Teacher and HOD, English Department at Anna Adarsh Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chennai, teaching children of classes X, XI and XII. "With nearly 3 decades of teaching experience, I also take interest in moulding children in public speaking, organizing events, on and off stage and help them excel in communicative skills and soft skills."