As a student who has attended school in the Silicon Valley for a majority of her life, I have been able to observe how technology has crept its way into everyday schoolwork. Throughout my elementary school and middle school years, with exceptions to weekly class visits to the school’s computer lab, I rarely used computers for school work. This minimized the amount of time I spent staring at text on a brightly lit screen. This quickly changed in my freshman year of high school as I began to rely on my laptop for writing reports and looking at information posted online for my classes. After many long nights of staring at my screen with bloodshot eyes, I recognize that this push for “paperless” academics does not come without consequences. With many high schools adopting the practice of giving students tablet devices in place of textbooks and switching to online textbooks, I feel that it is important that the adverse effects on student health and concentration should be discussed.
One of the ways paperless academics has been introduced in other schools is through online textbooks that student’s access on tablet devices to replace traditional textbooks. I have had one too many days where I felt too lazy to carry my math textbook home and opted to take a photo of the homework pages to do my work instead. Every time I did this, I regretted my decision when I tried to complete my homework. Going from staring at a screen to writing on paper isn’t a smooth transition and if done over long periods of time, it begins to irritate my eyes. Above all, the biggest problem is getting distracted. With my phone or laptop already on, I switch between tabs of homework and social media almost instinctively. With so many social media outlets and entertainment hubs just a “new tab” away, having online textbooks hinders efficiency.
As a student, I also recognize the benefits of the increasing use of technology in classrooms: they provide a great channel for communication when used as a reminder system and carrying a tablet is preferable to transporting bulky textbooks between school and home. These potential benefits of “paper-less” academics may even outweigh the cons; however, I believe that students should recognize the negative effects as well.
Although it may seem beneficial to implement new technology as soon as possible, getting rid of traditional paper books completely should not be part of the process. It is important that traditional textbooks are always presented as an option for students.