Phi Beta Cons

Pennsylvania College Enforces Facebook Fast

Last week, the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology blocked all access to social media, sites including Facebook and Twitter, over the school network.

Provost Eric Darr said the exercise that began Monday is not a punishment for the school’s 800 students, nor a precursor to a ban, but a way for people to think critically about the prevalence of social media. . . .

Student Ashley Harris, 22, said the blackout has freed her to concentrate on her classwork instead of toggling on her laptop between social networks and the lesson at hand.

“I feel obligated to check my Facebook. I feel obligated to check my Twitter. Now I don’t,” Harris said. “I can just solely focus.”

As a recent college grad, I recall walking into lecture halls and seeing a sea of blue and white Facebook pages on students’ laptops. Not a great way to learn, really. The bigger issue here, though, is the immense amount of time outside the classroom that staying connected requires.

With mobile devices now increasingly connected to the Internet, many students are distracted by a constant stream of trivial information, even when they are away from their computers. It is becoming more difficult to concentrate, do productive work, or simply take a quiet walk in the woods without pounding out five texts and a tweet.

These students didn’t invent information addiction. They grew up with parents glued to the Blackberry. Many of us, I suspect, both students and non-students alike, could benefit from a periodic technology fast.

Personally, I start to get the shakes after about 48 hours away from my e-mail. 

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