Academic Decline; Internet Use on the Rise

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・2 Sources

The internet has found its way into our lives in full intensity and adversely impacts the way we perform academically. Technological developments have affected the way we embrace and return knowledge. Jennifer Lee, a writer for the New York Times, discusses in her post, "I Think, Thus IM," how the overuse of causally written language has adversely altered scholarly literature. Lee demonstrates how the use of casual writing is integrated into scholarly assignments. Nicholas Carr, an American writer, educated at Dartmouth College and Harvard University, writes how he has been affected by the Internet in his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Chapter one “Hal and Me.” Carr explains how the internet has decreased his ability to concentrate, particularly when reading lengthy passages. Lee and Carr, both show we are losing valuable skills, literacy is being affected by the extreme use of the internet, as the reason, our academic performances have declined.

The first aspect of this argument comes from Lee, who explains the frustrations teachers are experiencing when it comes to academic writing. With little use of traditional modalities of communications, i.e., pen and paper, students are struggling to adhere to the academic rules of writing; making it difficult to transition their minds from casual to academic writing. Students’ primary sources of communication are through text messages, emails, instant messages and other social media platforms. This form of informal communication has developed a conversational style of writing. In turn, has led to the increased use of inappropriate shorthand in formal papers. Nelson/Net Ratings claims that almost 60 percent of the online population that uses instant messaging is less than 17 years of age (Lee 2). Due to the increased amount of students using informal writing on a daily basis to communicate with one another, there is a corresponding decreasing in their academic performance.

Next, Carr explains his personal struggles, related to internet use. Carr, an avid reader claims the internet has stripped him of the ability to read lengthy passages. He explains that when reading now, after years spent online, “my mind expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles” (Carr 4). Reading a book is very different from reading online, a book has no advertisements in the corner, then main points are not indicated in bold or fancy fonts, it is plain, and the reader is allowed to interpret things as they choose. This situation is influencing the way we interpret information. Internet reading provokes distraction, the reader's eyes to wander all over the web page, and gives the topic information at the very top of the page. There is no need for in-depth research when using the internet, with the answer appearing before your very eyes in seconds. The use of books and ability to learn is being lost as a result of increased internet use.

In addition to Lee and Carr, I strongly agree that the increased use of online, learning and communication has negatively affected our learning. Since, attending school during the birth of the internet, everything I learned was based on the use of a computer and using the internet to research the topic. Surfing the web was the newest advancement and teachers were ensuring we knew how to use it. There was little emphasis on reading a book. It was the latest and greatest academic tool, so was thought. This time, I must agree with Carr and Lee that my academic writing has suffered and my desire to open and read a book is nonexistent. My reading and writing skills have suffered dramatically as a result of internet use.

Some will argue that the internet is helpful when it comes to reading and writing. Carr admits that the” hyperlinks and search engines delivered an endless supply of words on his screen,” but he noticed the way he interpreted the information had changed (Carr 4). All the information he could ever need and more, right there at his fingertips, Carr claims that the internet had changed the way his brain worked. He was unable to focus on one topic, constantly felt the need to check his email, or click random links. Everything he needed was there, but how to stay focused and allow the internet to be a useful tool was the dilemma. Lee’s article disputes that “there is no official English language,” that it is ever evolving (Lee 1). Language has dramatically changed since “Shakespeare's time,” and that this conversational writing is a teachable aspect. Showing that transitions in our language have made their seemingly way in and out throughout history.

Works Cited

Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print.

Lee, Jennifer 8. "I Think, Therefore IM." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2002. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

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