Electronic gadgets offer many advantages to students: greater access to information, increased opportunities for collaboration, independent learning and enhanced communication. However, the effects of gadgets on students are not always positive. Overuse of technology through gadgets like smartphones, iPods and video games may interfere with a student's attendance, ability and interest in learning.
Effects of Gadgets on Learning
A decreased attention span is one of the negative effects of gadgets. Before smartphones and tablets were mainstream, the average attention span was about 12 seconds. However, research suggests this has dropped to about eight seconds, which is a shorter attention span than an average goldfish. If students struggle to concentrate in class, their grades may suffer.
Research also suggests that people who spend a lot of time on gadgets may be more easily distracted, meaning it's harder for them to complete necessary tasks.
Students who become addicted to gaming, texting or social media may try to do this in class, which may disrupt their learning and lead to disciplinary action. At home, it may interfere with their study time.
Effects of Gadgets on Health
The negative effects of electronic gadgets on health are well-documented. Persistent use of gadgets encourages a sedentary lifestyle and may lead to poor posture and weight gain. In extreme cases, this may cause obesity, neck and back issues and wrist and hand pain.
Also, the back-lit screens on computers, iPhones and video games can cause eye problems and headaches, and put users at greater risk of macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness.
Effects of Gadgets on Sleep
Watching TV or using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or other type of electronic devices late at night may interfere with a student's sleep patterns. The artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which delays the body's internal clock and makes falling asleep more difficult.
A student who finds it difficult to switch off their gadget may delay her bedtime, which decreases the amount of REM sleep (the restorative part of the sleep cycle) she gets and makes her less alert in class the following day.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Gadgets
It's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of gadgets. Technology is an unavoidable part of modern life and an outright ban on gadgets for students, either in school or at home, isn't the answer. However, with certain rules and guidelines in place, students can get the most out of their education without having to give up their digital lives.
Claire Gillespie has been writing and editing for 18 years. She has written about high school and higher education for private clients and various websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.