The Impact of Info-Mania on Gifted Students
Over the past 15 years I have been disheartened to observe that students in our SIG residential summer programs have become increasingly distracted by constant information overload, usually delivered via cell phone. Students, who once thrived through total immersion and focus on the new experiences at hand, no longer seem to be allowed to experience the luxury of giving something one’s undivided attention. They could be benefiting so much more from programs such as ours, as well as from their lives in general.
The bigger problem, of course, is the effect of info-mania on society as a whole. In the workplace, we know that the constant stream of data is reducing the ability to focus, and is, therefore, negatively affecting productivity. Even deciding what to ignore takes mental energy. Our personal lives suffer as well when we can never seem to let go of checking email, texts, social media, and phone messages during and beyond the work day.
At NSGT, we don’t want our gifted students to experience the negative results of info-mania, which include reduced mental capacity, loss of productivity, and loss of quality thinking time. Gifted students deserve to have the most opportunities possible that will allow them to engage deeply in topics of interest, to have time to focus on emerging fields of study for the future, and to have time to allow creative thoughts and ideas to incubate and form. They and society in general will benefit from gaining the priceless time and focus needed to maximize their mental potential, pursue new and exciting areas of future development, and participate in issues of meaning and substance.
How do we as educators help gifted students know and be able to understand what is worth knowing, as they are bombarded by technology, information, and pop culture on a never-ending basis? A few suggestions include:
- Practicing separation from emails and social media for a certain amount of time each day to engage in thoughtful activity.
- Learning how to prioritize, filter, and separate incoming messages to understand what is urgent and important, and let go of the rest.
- Limiting the number of people and places that you give your contact information to so that you receive less intrusion from the outside.
- Reducing your contribution to the information overload by limiting your outgoing messages to the minimum and not sending out unnecessary messages and trivia.
- Reducing the number of electronic devices that you regularly feel the need to check.
Is info-mania a problem in your life or the lives of your students? What else have you done or can you think to do (if you have the time!) to lessen the psychological toll and the mental productivity loss of this phenomenon for young people? Share your ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,