Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

Matt Richtel, for the New York Times:

On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?

The problem: Most people don’t like being challenged in an area of non-interest, even if the struggle and new perspectives are good for them. That’s why Vishal can spend eight hours, almost entirely uninterrupted, editing videos, but can’t be bothered to write a short economics essay.

Someone has to moderate. The rule in my house on school nights was homework first. It had to be done before I could watch TV or play a computer game, and someone could kick me off the PC if he or she needed the machine. The result: my siblings and I got good grades and still had plenty of time for fun. But giving kids unlimited access to distractions—regardless of the medium—has always been a bad idea. They won’t learn self-moderation unless someone teaches them, and they’ll never see that what gratifies in the short term so often has little value in the end.

Nov. 21, 2010 education