The Pandemic’s Continued Impact on Learning

It is no surprise that the pandemic has boosted computer usage among the younger generation, just as it has among all generations. With a virus that kept everyone inside and unable to learn normally for so long, it was almost inevitable. But one thing that is not as heavily reported on, is the heightened technology usage in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Although most schools in the United States have resumed learning in the school building, school is still heavily based online. More teachers are using features such as Google Classroom to have students turn in work and other online programs to complete assignments instead of the previous paper submission format.

Some people may not understand the full magnitude of the increase there has been in technology usage, but if you ask teenagers themselves, it can be very apparent. Teenagers already spend a vast amount of their time on their cell phones, using social media, texting, or watching television shows and other media. School has only increased their screen time due to homework and other factors. 

VHS senior Christopher Zysk says “Compared to pre-pandemic life, I now spend around four more hours a day on my computer and phone, and this has caused my eyes to become more strained, and limited my physical interaction with my peers.”  He said he could not remember the last time he submitted an assignment on paper for a class other than math where that would be more difficult to submit online. 

“I only turn things in on paper if it is required,” freshman Eliza Glatter.  She is speaking to the fact that students may not feel as inclined to turn things in on paper when they have been given the option to turn things in online. It has become more convenient for many to do so, and that is something students and staff have both seemingly benefited from. 

Convenience has become something that teenagers crave in today’s world. A lack of worry for submitting things in-person during school hours has helped immensely. It seems as though using paper as a method of teaching and learning has become obsolete in today’s society, which goes hand and hand with raised computer usage. 

Students from other districts report similar feelings. Megan Dick and Alanna Tufaro from West Essex High School both said that they have taken advantage (of technology) to reach out to teachers for help whenever needed in school, but said it has also caused a personal disconnect between them and the teachers. More screen time means less human interaction and lower motivation to learn. 

Socialization is also something that has been impacted by the pandemic. Eliza said that she still primarily talks to friends on her phone and other digital means of communication, and not as frequently in person. However, she said that in-person school has helped with that issue slightly and it seems to be something that everyone is improving on as we move forward. 

The majority of the people interviewed said that they cannot see themselves returning to the previous structure of school and homework, one  that is not dictated by technology and the problems that it may impose.