We’re living in hyper-connected times and Millennials from a very early age are growing up with everything at their fingertips. But is that “always on” mentality helping or hurting our youth? And how will the increased use of technology affect higher education?
The Pew Research Center along with Elon University conducted a survey of over 1,000 Internet “experts” (with the majority coming from education and technology fields) asking respondents to select whether growing up constantly connected will be a positive or negative.
Fifty-five percent of respondents took an optimistic point of view. They felt that Internet use provides young people with a unique skill set, including knowing how to solve problems through cooperative work and knowing how to quickly and efficiently find information (and determine its value). In higher education, we’ve seen these traits already in prospective students. Their increased use of social sites and their ability to weed out what is not authentic. And a heightened sense of community before, during and after the college years.
However, 42 percent of respondents felt that younger generations lack the ability to retain information and deep-thinking capabilities. They believed they also have a dependence on the Internet and mobile devices that is unhealthy. All significant concerns for faculty and staff working with this generation. Colleges and universities will have to work harder to engage them not just online — but in person too. Which is a critical piece of the recruitment process.
According to an LA Times article that cites the survey, “Three percent of respondents couldn’t make up their minds one way or the other.”
One of our very own experts rides the fence on this one. TargetX CEO Brian Niles was asked to participate in the survey. His thoughts on whether this is a positive or negative? “It’s both,” says Niles. “The power of any new technology or evolution of such comes with its rewards (access to information to name one) and failures (my pet peeve — can’t communicate verbally). But society and cultures will adjust. Until the next big change comes along.”
Read more about our authors. Annemarie Nagle is the Senior Marketing Executive for TargetX. Annemarie knew she had a passion for admissions and recruiting as a student tour guide. Since then, she has worked in higher education as an admission counselor and a dual role recruiting students and managing marketing communications.