A great deal of university life relies on exposure to technology despite its negative effects—and it’s up to our schools to provide opportunities to limit that exposure.
Earlier this year, after a poorly-timed computer breakdown, I was left with almost no access to my school work. That’s when I first noticed just how dependent we are on technology while at university, and how that dependence can limit our abilities to learn independently and connect interpersonally.
It’s difficult to navigate student life without some sort of device, be it a laptop, tablet, or, if you’re brave, only a cellphone. Most of our daily university lives are tailored around the assumption that students have access to a computer, from emailed university updates to OnQ course pages. Professors rely on this notion to keep students informed, receive assignments, and virtually run their class.
For many students studying at Queen’s, including me, it’s difficult to step away from technology even when you want to. Even coming to leisure, technology is pervasive. When I have time to myself, I tend to opt for Netflix or Disney+ as entertainment rather than a book.
The problem with this focus on screens is that, rather than allowing us to engage in personal interactions, it disconnects us from the world around us. This can damage our mental health at a stage in our lives that can already be challenging and isolating.
Rising anxiety and depression in young people has been strongly connected to electronics. Considering this, along with post-secondary institutions’ inaccessible mental health services, Canadian universities should focus on how their students interact with technology for both their mental and physical wellbeing.
The solution to technology’s negative impacts can also take shape before it becomes a problem at the post-secondary stage for students forced to use laptops and phones to academically succeed. Parents and guardians moderating children’s technology exposure could teach them to consider logging off once in a while.
Technology and its ever-growing use in our society isn’t going anywhere, especially as post-secondary students. That’s why it’s important for us to demand that universities provide more opportunities for their students to go offline when in classes or completing assignments. And, as new generations enter university, we must educate them on healthy consumption practices before the problem gets worse.
As our world becomes more tech-focused, we should pause and consider how to unplug before we lose our capacity to connect with those around us—before it takes a stressful computer breakdown to remind us to do so.
Jonathon is The Journal’s Video Editor. He’s a third-year economics student.
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