Technology: A blessing, challenge, or both?

Illustration by Ryan Barrett | Multimedia Journalist

By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer

Apart from calling friends through a telephone with a five-foot cord span or watching a program on a chunky television set, distractions facing students prior to the invention of the smart phone and the personal computer were few and far between compared today’s day and age.

While technology has revolutionized the classroom and created a far more interconnected global community, the negative impacts of technology have the potential to devalue the benefits it offers to students.

Social media connects students to their peers at the touch of a screen and sites like Netflix and Hulu offer hours of entertainment on demand at the user’s beck and call. Students are faced with the task of avoiding such distractions during their study and homework, while being required to utilize those same technologies for their academic endeavors.

Though self-discipline is ultimately the most efficient solution to this issue, some students have discovered other valuable methods to minimize these distractions.

Katy freshman Austin Kalmus utilizes the capabilities of his electronic devices to avoid such distractions during his studies.

As a pre-nursing student, Kalmus dedicates over 15 hours to homework a week. Kalmus disables notifications on his phone and apple watch while he does homework so text and social media messages do not distract him. Once he feels academically prepared, Kalmus enjoys “Family Guy” on Netflix and podcasts on Youtube.

“You get really bored while doing homework,” Kalmus said. “But it’s better to put all of them into a folder on your phone so you don’t see them as easily.”

Forney junior Samantha Caldwell is pursuing her major in professional writing and rhetoric and a minor in public relations. She spends more than 10 hours a week studying and changes her location to combat technological distractions.

“When I’m doing homework, I tend to stay in places where I can’t watch Netflix such as the library or a coffee shop and I won’t bring my head phones so I can’t plug them into my laptop to watch Netflix,” Caldwell said.

However, as with many students, avoiding social media remains a formidable challenge during her studies, Caldwell said.

“It is all about scheduling in times to watch it,” Caldwell said. “Instead of just starting to watch it, have a set time when you know that you’re going to stop watching it. Otherwise, it’s very addictive and you can just sit on and watch it for hours and hours.”

Pocahontas, Okla. junior Haley Baltz is a Psychology major and, in such a challenging field of study, focused study time is a crucial element of her academic success.

“Not including classes, on a regular week, I probably put in probably close to 20 [study] hours a week,” Baltz said.

Baltz watches with “The Good Doctor” on Hulu, as well as “Pretty Little Liars” and “Gossip Girl” on Netflix. She utilizes her academic stress to help her avoid the distractions of social media and television shows.

“For me, I don’t enjoy watching Netflix if I have homework because the whole time I am thinking about all the homework I have to do. So, I like to get it done first and then watch Netflix,” Baltz said.

Despite her rigorous academic schedule, Baltz still finds around 10 hours a week to watch the shows she enjoys.

Separating one’s self from his/her devices and downloading apps that limit daily social media use are among the other common methods of avoiding the distractions that technology can pose.