Don’t get me wrong: I’m not about to bash social media because I use many of these applications. Facebook is for the big announcements, Instagram is the metaphorical shoe box of things that I keep, and Snapchat is used when I want to be silly but don’t care to keep traces of said silliness. They are easy to use and provide us with multiple ways to keep in touch with the folks we may not see every day. So I get it, social media is useful and it’s probably here to stay.
Having said that, I do want to shed some light into how this culture of instant gratification may be affecting your child’s academic performance. About 90% of the students I come across have issues with systematically working through problems to find solutions. More often than not, a student will sit down for his SATs, see a problem that may contain more words than he would like or may be unfamiliar conceptually, not be able to process it all right away, then spiral into somewhat of an oblivion. Next thing you know, he is rushed for time and unable to finish the section, which of course adversely affects his score.
It’s a vicious cycle that gets propagated over and over again. Because when the kids are conditioned to get responses almost immediately with text messages, what incentive do they have to change their mindset for something as boring as working through word problems on their ACTs? It could get worse depending upon the type of instruction your kids get in school.
Some may argue that’s excessive, but I challenge anyone to learn any other way, especially when corporations spend millions upon millions of dollars on systematic training for their employees. Major test prep companies have created methods that instruct students to systematically work through test day questions that appear on the SAT and ACT.
So what can you do as parents to encourage this type of thinking? Ask your children to talk about the steps they take to complete assignments. When they come to you wanting things, ask them about their primary motivations. REALLY get into it with them, eliciting the kinds of emotions and thoughts that lead them to this point. Most importantly, VALIDATE them. Kids and adults alike are allowed to feel and think whatever they want. The point is to encourage them to systematically process them in a way that is conducive to higher level reasoning down the road. You can’t expect kids to do this when they can barely sort out their own thoughts and feelings inside their heads.
Stay tuned to future posts where I discuss how to do this systematically (see what I did there??).