In between the societal perception of penning down letters to sending messages over digital platform in an abbreviated form, technology intervened. In between watching classic movies such as Titanic in a DVD player and binge watching Sherlock Holmes on Netflix, technology intervened. The intervention of technology on every domain of human life has been discussed, deliberated and debated upon. On one hand, technology has become the central mode of communication, on the other, over exposure to technology has sensitised humanity to fake information.
Over the discourse of history, a new era of revolution has been witnessed by the human workforce. Revolution in the sphere of technological evolution has certainly perpetrated to intricate aspects of daily life. As Anton Chekhov once reckoned “If there is a pistol in the story, there is got to be a firing”. Who knew that technology will become the pistol in the narrative of the global pandemic witnessed by the human mankind?
The catastrophic repercussions of the novel coronavirus and the associated disease Covid-19 will stay long after the pandemic ameliorates. The global order has faced many disruptions over the last few months. To combat the spill over effect of the virus, unusual phrases and vocabulary have become a commonplace – Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine, Frequent Handwash and Lockdown. Amidst this unprecedented situation, human workforce turned to technology as the last resort to sustain daily living. Ranging from Work from Home to online meetings and webinars, it might be rightly said that we are at the disposal of technology.
A platform to identify diversity, life, critical thinking and ideologies is also not spared – the Education. Education system seen as one of the major determinants for societal and human development is at the receiving end, amid the pandemic. As a top premier institution in India like IIT Mumbai declares online classes as the mode of delivering education for the next several months, the domino effect certainly extends to the students, faculties and all the administrative staff operating at the grassroots level.
The chain of events is prolific to unfold. As more and more educational institutions switch to online framework with technological help as the sole medium of communication, the idea of “in person” classes takes a back seat. Education is not restricted to the learning in the classroom, education is an ideology which gives a sphere for diversity, critical thinking, a platform to deliberate and discuss world views with peers and faculties in an environment which dwindles between a student’s comfort and at the same time confused zone.
With the educational framework completely shifting to online mediums, the philosophy of education is witnessing a change in its own school of thought. Much has been deliberated over the few weeks, about the fee structure extended by the students, wage structure to the people working in an institutions, so much so that youth of the country are thinking twice before applying to institutions abroad and are planning to take a year off. The discourse about furloughing faculties and the intensity of the infrastructural change needed in an emerging economy such as India to adopt the new normal of online educational medium, remains well alive at the heart of students.
On the other hand, amidst the discussion about the effect on students and faculty, we have overlooked an articulate aspect related to the discourse. Well, that being the Psychological Impact of Technology.
The perils of over exposure to technology from a very young age is not alien to research in the domain of psychology. With the beginning of a new era of online education, a college goer would have to spend an approximate timeline of four to six hours daily on their laptop, or mobile phones. Followed by which, the assignments, submissions would lead to another hour of spending time on digital platforms. Spending considerable amount of time on digital platforms in a week, without physical interaction with peers and faculties certainly adds up to psychological impact on the mindset of students.
The issue exacerbates further when we look into the instance of a fifth grader. Majority of the students studying in the fifth grade conveniently do not possess a personal mobile phone or a laptop. They utilise the devices used by their parents and guardians to attend online classes. When the countries are ‘unlocking’ out of the pandemic in a phased manner, many parents and guardians have started full time work either through physical modes or online modes. The management of devices between the student and parents becomes major difficulty. This might even lead to the students missing out on important teachings of the day. On a contextual basis, the exposure to technology for longer periods of time for school goers who are yet to formulate their own ideologies or visions will become an issue. We have heard multiple cases and an exorbitant amount of research has taken place to evidently prove the impact of exposure to technology at a young age on the psychological well being of a teenager (O’Driscoll et al., 2010).
While we have to adapt ourselves to the changing scenario, we need to also keep in mind the difference between necessity and adaptability. Along with proper functioning of online classes, educational institutions must also ensure raising awareness among the youth on mental stability. In recent times, when various apps such as the recently introduced Jio Meet, Google Meet and Zoom have given the students a relief to at least not stall their educational learning, schools, colleges, universities, guardians, students and more importantly the faculty must sensitise themselves with mental health issue and psychological well-being.
-Mayukh Sen (One of the Prize Winners of Article Writing Competition 2020)
O’ Driscoll, MP et al. (2010). Engagement with information and communication technology and psychological well-being. New Developments in Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches to Job Stress, Volume 8.
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