Education in the Age of Digital Distraction

As the technological whirlwind encompasses the entire world, the manner in which we process information is changing. This alteration is found is inherent in the newer generation which is growing up with the ability to process multiple things at once. This is due to their adaptability to change in their younger years where their minds are much more impressionable. While there are strong links between procrastination and adults when it comes to use of technology, it is not as pronounced as that in younger users. Matt Richtel of the New York Times takes into account the life and behavior of a high school senior Vishal Singh who seems to be faced with the technological conundrum. While Richter is able to paint an accurate picture of the current situation, it seems that he has managed to maintain a neutral stance when it comes to the use of technology in education. As we progress towards the end however this stance is suddenly abandoned as he provides evidence of Vishal’s neglect towards his homework.

In a world where the newer generation is being born distracted, everyone is faced with a choice. They can either receive immediate gratification through a video or a prolonged exposure to a non-responsive piece of paper. According to Vishal the lack of interactivity and responsiveness when it comes to traditional homework methods is what causes them to choose technological entertainment over traditional learning every time. While efforts are being made towards the introduction of technology in classrooms in order to find a balance between learning and casual technological use, the efforts seem to be going in the wrong direction. It seems that it is not really technology or interactivity that is a cause for concern but rather the topic at hand. The two subjects in comparison in the article were that of Latin and an Audio Class. As Vishal states at one point, the students were more interested in subjects that were important for their future. Perhaps the choice of subject for comparison, even if iPads were being used to assist learning was not quite effective.


In a world where the newer generation is predisposed to absorbing information through screens and displays, school books provide a bleak contrast looking more and more like a chore every day. The sample on which the study was based also seems a little faulty. While the school itself did have a diverse sample of students, the ones in question belonged to the same faculty, studying the same subjects and of the same social class. The access to technology, be it only in an education al framework may be the only one available to students such as those receiving discounted or free lunches in the school.

At some points, the writer seems to jump towards clichés which may have been valid arguments perhaps 15 years ago but fail to deliver the same effect today. This refers to the dichotomous behaviors of the principal and the Latin teacher towards technology; one comparing it to a passing fad and the other as the end all and be all of the educational system in the future.

Technology in education is by no means a passing trend such as “Rock & Roll” but it is also not a crutch that the educational system can rely on. There is a great need for an integration of the two through which educators can facilitate effective and interactive learning methods.



Richtel, M. (2004). Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction. In S. Blau & K. Burak (Eds),

Writing in the Works (pp. 349). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.