While technology can be a useful tool for college students with the instant communication it provides and the ability to save years of assignments and photos, it can also forge too much of a dent in their 24 hours.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education references the book “Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism” by Judy Wajcman, a sociology professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, about the feeling of being constantly harried as a result of thinking there isn’t enough time to manage all of our responsibilities.
Despite people often viewing technology as the culprit of time anxiety, the problem, she argued, lies in the constant need to fill time and be responsive to obligations.
This is something that many students may be guilty of, as homework assignments, family matters and job requirements mesh together into one mass that can make them feel like they can’t “turn off.”
Though technology may not cause the pressure of these different tugs, the idea that it “accelerates communication,” as the article noted, can play a role in how people perceive the time they have. Students, then, could lead less overwhelming lives if they reconsider the amount of time filled by their cellphones, computers or anything else with a plug.
Whether it’s mindlessly scrolling through Facebook before class or checking one’s inbox before bed, there is always a way to fill in the extra cracks of time.
But that isn’t necessary. While students can’t control their deadlines, they can be consciously aware of what they do in the moments they’re not working on something.
For instance, one New York Times column argues that advertisements constantly seize people’s attention, from the screens of credit card terminals to airport security trays. If students look at the activities they do in open spaces of time as something that takes up their attention, then it’s easy to see how the decision to browse the Internet while eating breakfast is a deliberate choice — it’s something to fill the gaps.
Though this short-term entertainment is usually referred to as spare time, the need to be occupied, as the Chronicle article addressed, could make people feel they need to be busy no matter what, a phenomenon that students can undoubtedly relate to.
College students have enough to worry about. While the drive to be productive isn’t a bad thing, it can become like an addiction with the close, intimate relationship students have with technology.
Using up all available time can get so out of hand, that Germany even considered legislation that would make it illegal to send work-related emails after 6 p.m., according to U.K. news outlet Metro. This occurred after research from German Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles found that doing so adds five extra hours to the workday.
While almost all college courses require the use of technology to some extent, detaching oneself when it’s not absolutely necessary to use the Web, or at least seeing less of it, is possible, and it might even make students feel like they have one less burden to worry about.
Isabelle Cavazos is a junior majoring in English and Spanish.