Our youth is severely addicted to mobile phones. Covid-19 has led to the over-use of mobile phones and internet for everything. Sometimes, this use is justified. However, our emphasis on the use of technology in studies has marooned students on their own. ‘Google it’ has become a new normal in classes. We were already struggling with the dying habit of asking questions among students. Whenever a teacher finds himself or herself at sea by the question if ever asked by students, he or she snubs them and triumphantly advises them to Google the question.

Now, students resort to search engines on the internet to get answers for their queries. The pandemic has made students digital addicts. Evidently, the consequence is that their self-built opinions make them prejudiced and insular to dialogue and discussion. Another harm is they are lost in a sea of information. They must keep in mind that this is the age of specialized knowledge. As the saying goes, a Jack of all trades is a master of none.

Their wanderlust for new information on social media and search engines, decentralises their focus on their particular discipline of studies. Consequently, they become ‘’information nomads’’. Neil Gaiman perfectly describes what’s happening in digital times as: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” Such students with alot of information about divergent topics irrelevant to their professional studies, fail to achieve their professional goal.

The unbridled use of technology has made dialogue and communicative interaction between teachers and students an endangered species, sooner to become extinct. Short memory span and a slow interface between the mind and the spur of the moment are common afflictions clung to students. Students under the mirage of half knowledge imagine themselves above advice. Their know-it-all mentality makes them presumptuous towards their teachers and parents.

Even parents vaunt their tech-savvy children, oblivious of the fact that their children are being carried away from their chalked-out goals. It’s a paradox that despite having multiple sources of knowledge (mobile phones, computers, tabs, laptops, e-books, audio-books, learning apps, video lectures, virtual academies) at their disposal, students still perform poorly in their studies. Mediocrity among students, in their studies and achievements is a consequence of this indulgence.

As a remedial step, people and teachers at the helm at educational system and institutions should create and encourage a question friendly milieu in the classroom, whether physical or virtual. They must employ a Socratic method to bring home various concepts. The syllabi should be overhauled and designed in a way to involve students and teachers in polemics on various topics. Educated parents should ask their children easy questions at family time. A healthy discussion enables the mind to entertain opposite ideas. In this way, students will remain laser-focused to their studies. Otherwise, self-study and self-made images assisted by artificial intelligence, devoid of any discussion would spawn robotic and prejudiced minds.

M. NADEEM NADIR,

Kasur.