Associate professor and copywriter
Addictive inventions cause injuries that we teachers register every single day.
This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.
The “Like” button and many of the other dopamine-inducing mechanisms in today’s applications are highly addictive. We see this as a teacher in high school, in every single teaching hour.
Too many of our students find themselves in a parallel universe where screens filled with social media’s endless feed take much of their attention. With mobile phones and PCs in class, they drop out of class for large parts of the school day.
No more noise in the hour
Asking them to put away this equipment is risky. It can create aggression in students. Many parents have probably experienced this aggression themselves, when they have tried to limit their own children’s screen use.
Students may claim that they feel violated and may refer to section 9-A of the Education Act. It gives students power over us teachers, as it is the students’ subjective experience of the situation that is the right one.
School leaders also refuse to put students in place, for fear of aggressive parents and reactions from the state administrator.
But on the plus side, there is no longer any noise in the classroom. The part of the students who follow gets the highest benefit, as it is easier for us teachers to concentrate on those who want to learn.
The other students are also happy. They do not have to be disturbed in their endless pursuit of entertainment and recognition in “cyberspace”.
Exploits vulnerability in the psyche
“I control it so my kids don’t get to use shit.” The quote comes from one of Facebook’s very first top executives, Chamath Palihapitia. He claims that dopamine-driven feedback systems are destroying society. “If you feed the beast that social media is, it destroys you,” he says in the French program “The digital drug», Which is on NRK.no.
Justin Rosenstein, engineering manager at Facebook, may not have known what kind of effects it would have when he was involved develop the “like” button which was launched on February 9, 2009. He knows that today. Already in 2017, he removed the Facebook app from his own phone – and with good reason.
Sean Parker, who was a co-founder of Facebook, also admits in this program that he regrets it. “Social media exploits the vulnerability of the human psyche. We figured it out, but we did it anyway. ”
Distributes Ipad to 1st graders
With billions of dollars on the books, it’s time for these tech innovators to tell the truth. The harms that their addictive inventions cause, we register teachers every single day.
The super-smart developers in Silicon Valley have at least taken the consequence of this themselves. In the schools in Silicon Valley where screen use is prohibited, up to 75 percent of the students are from families where at least one of the parents works in the big tech companies. Perhaps a prerequisite when each student place costs the parents approx. 300,000 kroner a year.
But in Norway, we hand out Ipads to the 1st graders – the most vulnerable. Yes, many of the children who start school today already have thousands of hours behind them sitting in front of the screen.
Here, the main task is to push forward to small dopamine showers. Having to do a longer work session to achieve a result is therefore difficult. The ability to concentrate over a long period of time is completely gone for many.
The ability to focus
Too few high school students ever read a book of their own free will. Not to mention the hatred many have for the subject of mathematics. Both of these exercises require the ability to focus, use cognitive abilities and may not get any reward until after a long time.
The big crossroads is that they go on a study preparation line. Many students in 3rd grade in high school are therefore shocked when we go into some university studies to see how many pages of syllabus they have to read to take the first exam.
Or as one of them said, “Why was no one telling me this the day I started on this line?”
We’re afraid it would have made no difference. Lack of concentration can develop from the day we uncritically put the little ones in front of a screen on their own.
“But now so many great digital teaching aids are being developed.” There are probably many good intentions behind these pedagogical schemes, but the concept of most is lightning-fast feedback, on every little action.
Unfortunately, basic skills like concentrating over a long period of time before you can record a result are something that needs to be trained.
Outdated on today’s challenges
With the new curricula that are now being implemented in the Norwegian school, in-depth learning is central. Students will gradually develop an understanding of concepts, methods and contexts in a subject area in order to be able to solve problems within the subject and across subjects.
Many of today’s young people struggle here with the very basics, such as learning concepts, as it requires concentration, memorization and time. Therefore, the task becomes almost impossible, as they also have to perform demanding cognitive exercises to discuss interdisciplinary issues.
We teachers understand why this has happened. The school is run by people who have not taught for many years. Many have neither seen nor perhaps wanted to see the negative development that the lack of ability to concentrate gives.
After participating in a number of seminars with “leading school researchers”, we are left with the impression that these are people who lack ground contact with the current situation. Their theories may have been relevant 30 years ago, but they are sadly outdated on the challenges we face today.
Get a chance to get bored
But one piece of advice we should give to all our students. It is to be careful that they do not let their future children fall into the same trap that many of them themselves have been led into.
For every year they manage to keep the little ones away from dopamine-inducing applications, the greater the chance that they can see the joy in concentrating on something that requires time.
Giving young people the opportunity to get bored will set in motion cognitive processes that create creativity. By reading books, they will have to create the images in their own head. With a good desire to read, they also gain greater knowledge and not least cognitive staying ability.
Since the road to good school results is paved with thousands of syllabus pages, they will in this way be better prepared to succeed in the tough competition for the attractive study places.