The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Digital technology time-waster, say campus counselors

By Stephanie Homeyer/reporter

TR students learned how to find balance between technology and life outside the screen in Dare to Disconnect Sept. 25.

Counselor Mandy Melton and counseling director Louann Schulze started by having students complete a survey that asked how long they spent on certain activities, such as sleep, homework, television and the Internet. Several students said they spent three to four hours a day on their phones texting, surfing the web or emailing while one admitted to spending around eight hours a day surfing the web alone.

Schulze and Melton said it is important to find time outside of their devices for “me time” and gave them time logs to document how they spend their time and what they could spend less time on.

“We’re not here to say, ‘Don’t go on Facebook or don’t ever text anybody,’” Schulze said. “We just want to help you raise your awareness of the time you are spending and see if it’s something you want to change.”

Schulze said new technology changes society, relationships and culture throughout history. She used a typewriter as an example.

“If you messed up more than two times, you had to start over,” she said. “It would take a long time.”

Times have changed and advances in technology have made something as simple as drafting a letter significantly easier, Schulze said.

“They’re convenient, but how much of your life is ruled by your cellphone?” she asked.

Text communications have changed the way people communicate by taking away the non-verbal and tone-of-voice cues, Schulze said. But they have also added written cues that younger generations notice more readily.

Schulze said one immigrant thought when people responded to the greeting “How are you?” with “very busy” and “have a lot of phone calls and emails to answer,” the person was using that as a status symbol. Schulze said it was not so much being a status symbol as being unhealthy.

“If you don’t reply instantly, people think that something is wrong,” she said.

Melton called it “a digital leash,” causing people to spend more of their time trying to multi-task instead of focusing on the here-and-now.

“You forget things,” Schulze said. “You wind up doing five things and then asking yourself, ‘Did I reply to that email?’”

Melton said multi-tasking is a time-waster.

“Sometimes, we lack efficiency [when we multi-task] because even though we think we completed it, how well have we done it?” she said.

Taking the time to focus on one thing at a time actually helps improve how well and how quickly a task gets done as well as having the added interpersonal benefit of giving someone full and undivided attention, they said.

Spending a day shopping with a parent or playing catch with a child helps develop a sense of well-being and peace, they said. They also offered some breathing and relaxation exercises students could do to reduce stress in their own lives.

Perhaps the largest problem with technology overuse among students is short attention span, Schulze said after the presentation.

“We train our brain to search for new stimuli even when we’re not finished with the first thing we were looking at. I think that [the short attention span] can cause problems in the classroom and when the student is trying to study,” she said. “We were really just trying to raise students’ awareness of how they may be dependent on their digital devices and encourage them to take a break every once in a while.”

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