Let’s leave digital work in the past

Madeline Motes

Having been online all year with virtual school, and with technology being a huge part of many teen’s lives outside of school, it’s wonderful that we’ve had the opportunity to go back to school in person and get a break from technology. But at the beginning of the year we were all given new devices so we could do our work online. Some teachers this year have even announced that their classrooms are going to be paperless, meaning you do all the work on your personal laptop or school-issued device. This is disappointing. I believe students should be given a break from screen time, and have the opportunity to work the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper. This has many benefits to our cognitive and emotional development that you don’t get from working exclusively online. 

A study conducted at UCLA looked at how notetaking by hand or by computer affects learning. According to NPR who reported on it, the researchers found that when study subjects were asked to remember basic information like dates and times, both groups did equally well, but when asked a conceptual application question like: ‘How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?’ the laptop users did significantly worse. One reason researchers believe this to be true is that it takes more time to write by hand, giving you the opportunity to retain more information. 

Rising mental health issues are also a concern. Many middle and high-school students experienced depression and anxiety over this past year. Part of this is due to social isolation and too much time on the screen. A new report that just came out in the Wall Street Journal reported that too much time on Instagram is responsible for a rise in teenage depression. 

I certainly found this hard, with being online for a year and a half and eventually getting to the point where I lost almost all motivation. Plus, being in school is not just so that you can do the work and get the grades. It is also about “being present” and socializing, things which I’ve missed out on during these COVID times. 

We have the chance to be in person. Let’s take advantage of it and get off our screens and have lessons where we do hands-on work, lively discussion, and group work away from our screens. •