Wall Street Journal recently published an article, ‘The Greatest Generation (of Networkers),’ in which it relates a story of a 17-year-old high school student who was caught for sending text messages in class, and sent to the vice-principal’s office. Whilst the student was being reprimanded, the VP noticed that his fingers moving on his lap – he was texting about being punished for texting.

The article goes on to portray contrasting opinions about hyper-socializing, its benefits and costs to schools and companies where students and workers spending time constantly on texting and social-network checking throughout the day. Those for hyper-socializing say that

This generation has a gift for multitasking, and because they’ve integrated technology into their lives, their ability to remain connected to each other will serve them and their employers well.

Others contend that

these hyper-socializers are serial time-wasters, that the bonds between them are shallow, and that their face-to-face interpersonal skills are poor.

A study is cited on how much time is wasted at work on personal socializing online, as well as another on the effects of Facebook, where psychology students found that

the more time young people spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to have lower grades and weaker study habits. Heavy Facebook users show signs of being more gregarious, but they are also more likely to be anxious, hostile or depressed. (Doctors, meanwhile, are now blaming addictions to “night texting” for disturbing the sleep patterns of teens.)

The article concludes by contending that it is no longer about attention span (what educators and employers focus and prize in the past), but rather, attention scope – being able to concentrate on many things at once.

(read more)

See related article
NewsNote: The hypersocialized generation (Al Mohler’s response, 6 Nov 09)