Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Has Technology and Social Media Given the 2012 High School Seniors the Lowest Reading Scores in 40 Years?

Is technology and social  media adversely affecting our tweens and teens in school or... are they just evolving faster?

A rather jolting report came out yesterday, Sept. 24th, 2012, about how unprepared our 2012 high school graduates are for college.  The Washington Times hammered it home by pointing out "Perhaps even more troubling than the college readiness number are the 2012 READING scores. The average score on the SAT's reading portion fell this year to 496 out of a possible 800, its lowest mark since 1972 and down from last year's 497."  Data: High school students aren’t ready for college - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/24/high-school-grads-reading-skills-hit-new-low-most-/#ixzz27UIr3Czr 

My knee jerk reaction is to point a finger the huge surge in cell phone use over the last 5 to 7  years and the ebonics it takes to communicate quickly and efficiently through texting.  In fact if we all strtd typin in textanese, it wud come off a lil mor lik dis form of shorthand n not full words. Cud u handle that? F ur a tween or teen, u cud.   As an adult, I still have to read my 14 year old son's texts out loud.  I suppose if I saw these styles of writing every day in communication with everyone, I'd be pretty darn good at it too.

I heard this summer that nationally, high schools aren't assigning novels that exceed 200 pages anymore, because the students can't maintain the attention for that long.  Sad, strange, makes me furrow my brow and I wince at what they are missing.  However... is this us evolving?   Is it simply we are adapting the way we communicate using our environment of rapid fire technology and availability to so many people at once?  Are our attention spans shorter or are we merely wanting as much information as possible?

I think youth adapt embraced changing the way they communicate because they can. They aren't bogged down with mortgages, insurance rates, raising other humans. They are at a glorious age where they don't fully appreciate or understand the power of effective communication... yet. It's the whole frontal lobe still developing and not understanding the power and consequences of their words, the angst of youth, it's all about  me, I want it now type egocentric lifestyle they are submersed in. Ah, the good old days.  Eventually, they'll want to read and re-read a great novel, a love letter that you want to hang on to for the rest of your life, a poem or a speech that will rattle you to your core.   It's just not their job right now. So they can take traditional methods and tweak them as they see fit.  I don't even think they know we are watching.

Our society is certainly more visual than we've ever been.   Instagram and Pinterest's lightening speed rise to popularity are a clear testimony to that effect.  Using a photo in a post on Facebook has proven more than likely to yield greater engagement from friends/followers.  This excites the Facebook algorithms and you're rewarded by getting more of your  messages out to a larger portion of your fans/followers. Even as adults, we are so stretched with our availability, multi-tasking and multi-communicating, we don't really have time to read, but we do have time to see an image.  Infographics are a fantastic summary of a study with graphics, all on one page. See the one at the bottom of this page by http://www.commonsensemedia.org/teen-social-media-infographic .  Great information in a short space. Yes... I have time for that.

If you're an adult and you're reading this, what are you doing?  Are you evolving with technology and with the teens to twenty somethings?  Are you sitting back in  your chair with your arms smugly crossed over your chest and smirking because you think it won't affect you?   Are you kicking and screaming with full on resistance to your keyboard?  Where are you and what is your plan to continue to communicate effectively with the world, with generations, as it evolves around us?

For more thoughts, Here's a blog I posted 2 years ago about how typing classes may be replaced by texting classes. Soon a s d f and ; l k j will be M.I.A.