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Experts Discuss 'App Mentality' and Why It's Not Good

Experts Discuss 'App Mentality' and Why It's Not Good

According to two researchers studying the effect of the digital world on students, the ability to use apps to find solutions potentially creates a reliance on technology and stifles creativity.

Katie Davis and Howard Gardner are behind the book The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy and Imagination in a Digital World, and according to T.H.E Journal, have coined the term "app mentality" to describe today's youth being sucked into a portal of relying on learning through applications.

"Individuals with this mindset, most notably American’s youth, leave themselves little time for sitting with ambiguity or complexity, puzzling over specific scenarios. 'The emphasis is on the immediate, the definitive,' said Davis. 'If I do this, then I’ll get this outcome.' Today’s adolescents systematically move from step to step, navigating their lives much like they navigate their apps: with very few opportunities to take detours on unexpected paths," the article said.

Further, because the apps are readily available, plentiful and easy to use, the researchers argue that youths are losing out on important quiet reflection times to rest the brain and "focus inward."

Davis says this lack of inward focus could be taking away important self-understanding and empathy skills that are developed when the brain is at rest.

But Davis does believe that the "app mentality" helps students in the visual arts because "[w]hen it comes to the physical act of creating art, students have a wide range of digital tools that assist in the creative process."

Because young students spend a lot of time looking at digital media, the researchers believes this helps increase visual creativity. On the downside, the researchers believe students' ability to write creative fiction is affected negatively.

When analyzing works from middle school and high school students over a 20-year period, "the more recent samples, they found, failed to push literary boundaries as far as the earlier works. 'They tended to be more traditional stories. They had less fantasy elements than the earlier pieces. If the author was a middle-school student, then often the protagonist was a middle school student. Often the story took place in a school,' said Davis. The newer writings lacked 'genre play,'" the article said.

In general, the researchers' work has led them to believe that the digital age and youth reliance on apps has both advantages and disadvantages, but that the loss of creativity is an important trend to care to.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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