Is Technology Making Us Lazy?

Generation-i seems to think that they may be the laziest generation yet due to the advances in technology. What do you think?

Generation-i is a term used to refer to the kids who were born in the 1990s.  As a high school teacher, I’m up close and personal with kids of this era every day and based on a recent assignment, we have a lot to discuss. I’d like to take the next few blog sessions here to ruminate about some of the issues the kids brought up.

In an effort to generate some thought for college essays, I put a question to my honors level juniors and they responded on our classroom blog. The question was, If you could identify one struggle, hurdle, problem or issue that you believe is particular to your generation what would it be? How will the members of your generation get beyond this problem?”  

Now, of course, this is just a snapshot of those kids and could never represent the thoughts of all kids of Generation-i, but I thought the discussion merited further review here.

The first issue that saw repeated play was their speculation that Generation-i is lazy. One student said, “We have become lazy and impatient, and it is because we get so many things so easily or quickly thanks to technology. No one is willing to work to get what they want because they can get it so much faster, and easier in another way. Sadly, I do not think we will be able to get beyond this point.”

When asked what kinds of things are easier another student responded, “All you have to do is type it into Google and you get a response within 5 seconds.”

Another student offered the reasons for laziness inherent in Gen-i by saying, “We were raised this way; everything has always been at our fingertips. People are so used to everything being given to them that when we have to get something, we don't want to.”

I found myself nodding as I read their comments. Many times, as we sit in the library at school getting ready to start a research assignment, I point out all the great text references with pages and bindings. The kids listen politely, then as soon as the last word passes over my lips, they’re up and running for the computers.

Or, if they do use a hard cover resource, not a minute of reading goes by and a hand shoots up, “I can’t find anything!” I explain to students, it might take a few minutes, and you may have to read words you may not actually use. Rolling of eyes and groans meet that statement every time. They don’t want to waste time on reading anything that doesn’t get them directly to the parameters of the assignment. 

Last year, a friend sent me an article from The Atlantic entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” According to Nicholas Carr, “while the Internet allows us to get lots of information very quickly, it also encourages us not to look at it very thoughtfully.” In fact, he suggests that they way we look at information in general has changed from reading to scanning. He laments the seeming extinction of what he calls “deep reading.” And while those of us older than Gen-i can join Carr in that feeling of loss, does Gen-i not feel it because they never had it?

Back in our blog discussion at school, another student noted, “Technological advances don't make people lazy. If this is the case, were ancient Egyptians lazy for using irrigation systems to water crops instead of good 'ol carrying buckets of water?” She has a point. And another kid posited, “ Technology is a savior in the sense that now people can learn things and gain knowledge at super fast speeds.”

After all, how do you think I found that term Generation-i? I Googled it! 

So my question to you  -- is technology making us lazy?




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