If you choose to hang out in Hargroves, you’ll likely be accosted by the sights and sounds of the iPhone. It seems like everywhere you look, groups of students sit around around tables hunched over smartphones, or with laptops lined up like ducks in a row.
Technology is omnipresent in our lives; it consumes our free time and busy time alike. In a survey of 78 Upper School students, 62% of respondents said they spend three or more hours on the computer on an average weeknight, and 70% said that they spend more than three hours on their computer on a Saturday or Sunday. A majority of students surveyed who had smartphones said that they spend one to two hours on their phones every day.
So why are we so glued to our devices? Homework is the primary culprit: 85 percent of students said that they spend most of their time on the computer completing assignments. But often, it is the siren call of social networks, Netflix, Hulu and games that pull us to the screen. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said that their internet escapades have significantly distracted them from doing homework.
Students undoubtedly need outlets for their daily stresses, but some activities have become more of a hindrance than a means of increasing productivity. Between online gaming interfaces and the multitude of new games being introduced, gameplay can take on a life of its own. The competitive nature of video games, such as can be found on the ever popular Call of Duty, makes room for a kind of self-improvement. Surpassing levels and unlocking new abilities create an allure that many are hard-pressed to resist.
Grant Kelly ’15 recently came to the realization that video games were significantly affecting his productivity. Grant decided that he could no longer allow video games to enable his tendency to procrastinate once he had acknowledge how consumed he was. His epiphany came on while lying on the couch one school night.
“I was playing Call of Duty and my parents thought that I was working. So I would listen for footsteps and switch between Call of Duty and my homework. And I was like ‘what am I doing? Stop!’” Grant recalled. As a result, he deleted Call of Duty from his computer, and all of his remaining games quickly followed.
Since deleting his video games, Grant has had more time for other fulfilling activities such as playing the piano, and he remains satisfied with his decision. Some have not been so lucky to escape the clutches of gaming.
Brad Sachs ’15 spent the majority of his snow day on the X-Box. Brad estimates that he played around eight hours straight on December 10. Brad is more of an X-Box gamer than a computer gamer, so he is not as tempted in GFS’s hallowed halls than in his own bedroom.
Brad said that his gaming is “never to the point where it’s like I didn’t do this homework because of video games, it’s more like I’ll be up until like 12:30 with my homework because I didn’t do it before.”
So maybe our sleep-deprived eyes can not be completely accredited to piles of homework, but instead to misuse of technology and mediocre time management. But hope remains: if students can stay up until the wee hours of the morning finishing assignments, surely we have the willpower to manage our technological compulsions.