Does our toppers stand on use and misuse of social media satisfy the data from research?

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Where many Communications Commission warns that students who don’t have fast Internet connections “are at a disadvantage relative to their connected peers,” and also every government have their plan to spend huge amounts a year helping low-income households hook up to broadband, our toppers from medical, engineering, law says it brings distraction and drag away you from your focus point.

Computers are not just productivity machines — they are also portals to distraction. There is the question of the teenage attention span: how can we expect this of kids? The relationship between every moment spent playing “Candy Crush” or checking Facebook or spamming Instagram is inversely proportional to time taken away from quality study time, or, you know, sleep.

And so, computers can sometimes feel like a necessary evil. Parents fret: Do the costs of having children use a computer at home outweigh the benefits?

What our Toppers say?

Bhumi Sawant, Mannat Luthra and Aditya Jain who secured the second and third all-India ranks in XII Board Exam said that social media such as Facebook, Whats App and Instagram are a major distraction. These need to be avoided by the students.

IIT topper Sarvesh Mehtani and Aakash said they had stayed away from the social media for the last couple of years and says “I had not used my smartphone for the last two years. I cannot stay focused while using a smartphone, but those who can, should continue to use WhatsApp and Facebook. “One has to be discipline and social media is distracting. You have to cut-off yourself from all such entertainment,”

AIIMS MBBS 2017 and toppers Nishita Purohit has achieved the top position, says, I didn’t watch television for a year and was not in contact of any social media. I became little isolated and focused entirely on my studies,”

Nikita Goyal, who managed to make it to the top 10 ranks in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), securing eighth position and says she stayed away from the social media for the past two years, concentrating only on her studies.

NEET toppers from Madhya Pradesh – Archit Gupta and Manish Mulchandani – did everything to ensure that they cracked the prestigious exam and says “I stopped visiting the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and even maintained a distance from the relatives.

And what the Research says?

A fascinating working paper published in 2013,  from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economists Robert Fairlie and Jonathan Robinson found that the children who got free computers didn’t do better academically — but they didn’t do worse either. It appears, in fact, that having a computer at home was indeed a distraction. Children reported spending a lot more time playing video games and hanging out on social networking sites.

An unexpected benefit

However a follow-up paper, Robert Fairlie and Ariel Kalil find that the experiment did help the children, but in an unexpected way. It made them more social — not just online, but in real life. “All told, the results portray a pattern of small positive benefits to youth’s social development and no significant evidence of increasing social isolation,” Fairlie and Kalil write.

In a separate paper, Fairlie also shows that the free computers did not widen the academic achievement gap between boys and girls. Though boys did spend more time playing video games, girls spent more time on email and social-networking sites.

It’s important, of course, not to overgeneralize the results from these studies but country like India where seats are limited and applicants are in lakhs an applicant who dreams big have to balance all these advices from topper and research in their daily routine.

After reading this should you let your kids log on? 


References:

Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. “Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 211-40, July.

Fairlie, Robert W. and Kalil, Ariel, The Effects of Computers on Children’s Social Development and School Participation: Evidence from a Randomized Control Experiment (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22907.

Jeff Guo, Reporter, The Washington Post

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