31.03.2020 in Exploratory
Negative Effects of Technology on Attention, Learning and Performance


Human life is impossible without information technology these days. Although the information technology handles the use of computers and software for the storage, conversion, protection, processing, transmission, and obtainment of information, it also opens possibilities of accessing communication with different people at the other end of the world without leaving home. The positive side of the phenomenon is the fact that the information technology represents gigabytes of data, books, photos, videos, articles, and online stores. At the same time, it also refers to people walking all around with swollen red eyes and spending days and nights at their laptops. These people do not live real life and forget about friends. 

There are many students at universities whom this addiction affects. They possess all features that allow excelling them from the crowd. Following personal observations, it is possible to state that most of the students prefer spending time at the computers over meeting with friends or being involved in outdoor activities as well as expend their energy of the effective studying at universities. Therefore, what is the real effect of the addiction to information technologies, and to which extent it affects students’ attention, learning process, and performance? The term paper will discuss the negative side of the information technology, in particular, its harmful influence on students’ attention, learning, and performance.



Everyone understands that the development of technology is an integral part of modern life. These days, no one can live without the Internet, laptop, smartphone, and other useful gadgets. However, unfortunately, numerous studies show that there is significant impact of modern technology on the population, especially students. As a result, the term paper studies negative effects of the use of electronic devices including computers and smartphones among others, which influence students’ attention, learning, and performance.

The computer addiction frequently develops in childhood and teenage years, particularly, in boys. As a result, in most cases, students usually enter universities with already developed addiction of this type. A sign of the computer dependence is not itself the time spent at the laptop but the concentration of all individual’s interests on this device and, as a result, the abandonment of other activities available for him or her. According to Kuss, Griffiths, and Binder, “in university student population, Internet addiction prevalence estimates range from 0.8% in Italy, 0.9% in Jordan, 2.8% in Iran, 5.6% in China, 9.8% in the USA, to 15.1% in Taiwan, 16.2% in Poland, and 18.3% in Great Britain”. 

Usually, the computer dependence manifests in a form of the addiction to computer games in childhood. Then, it starts to include more substantive sessions at older age, which refers to the period when people enter universities and become students. This factor includes students’ desires to improve their laptops, find the software and other material in the Internet as well as become skillful in programming. Students with the high level of intellectualism often suffer from the addiction of this type. 

The emergence of the issue contributes to violation of communication between them and peers as well as lectors at the universities. It leads to the consolidation and further progression of the disorder. As a result, students may not achieve mutual understanding with them and decide to leave education at all or, at least, do not visit classes in order to avoid meeting with people. In addition, computers provide the opportunity for virtual communication via the Internet, which mitigates the negative psychological manifestations of violation of real interpersonal relationships. It has significant impact on students’ performance and learning process since their health becomes weaker, and they prefer spending time in a virtual world playing games or discussing technical things that can be not the area of their future professional activities. It can lead to the suspension from a university or failure to graduate from it and, therefore, arrange individual’s professional life. 

The study of the problem of technology addiction acquires special attention to the question of the rapid development of computer technology. In particular, computer games have certain impact on the development of a personality of a modern individual. As a result, it leads to students’ reduction of freedom and creativity, simplification of forms of communication, creation of a syndrome of dependence on cyberspace as well as emergence of aggression and permissiveness. The deterioration of physical health, which includes vision problems, broken posture, nervousness, confusion, and sleep disorders among others, accompanies these changes. All the above-mentioned features significantly affect students’ performance, level of attendance of classes as well as removal from the real world and health.

The computerization leads to the splitting of the image and the design of contradictory pictures. For example, there is so-called “keeping silence effect,” which is the reluctance of people to transmit negative news or facts to the addressee. Nevertheless, they still do it through means of the indirect forms of communication. This situation is called “the phenomenon of depersonalized contacts.” Students prefer to use indirect forms of communication for the transmission of negative information. If only positive data is planned to be transmitted through indirect communication in accordance with the “keeping silence effect” while the negative one is passed after the channel-mediated communication, it inevitably forms and secures student’s conflicting images. 

Among other negative effects of the information technology use is the appearance of so-called phenomenon – animism, which can be observed among students. It is associated with the utilization of the information technologies since computers are supposed to be capable of thinking and acting but are not able to feel. This feature is a kind of detachment from the affective intelligence. It results in the emergence of unexpected boost in the animistic method of interpreting the reality. All these features significantly affect students’ performance, classes attendance rate as well as removal from the real world and their health.

Strategy to Solve Problem

Most experts accept the fact that all dependences have a common basis of the addiction while the redemption is possible only in case there is the addict’s consent to perform therapeutic guidelines and recommendations. Recognizing the universal character of human addictions, the psychologists have been discussing and developing various strategies that allow solving problems. The term paper will focus on the rejection-then-retreat techniques that have been considered one of the most effective tools that can be applicable to the discussed problem.

The Rejection-Then-Retreat Technique

Since the concept of mutual exchange manages the process of trade-offs, it is possible to use the initial concession as a part of a highly effective method of obtaining the consent. This simple method can be called “the approach of the rejection-then-retreat.” It is also known as the technique of the “foot in the door”. 

The strategy requires forcing anyone to accept a specific request. The chances to improve the presentment of a more serious claim are likely to be rejected. A less serious requirement follows the decline of the presentment. It will be equivalent to the implementation of the one that a person has been interested in. If one structures a requirement skillfully, it is considered the second requirement presented in a form of the concession in relation to it. A person will be more likely to answer the concession on his/her part. What is more, the only opportunity open for this person will be to do it immediately. Therefore, he or she will have to agree to perform the second requirement. In reality, the latter should not be negligible and must be less severe than the original one. It is crucial to create the appearance of the concession. 

The main reason for the effectiveness of the method of rejection-then-retreat is its relationship with the concept of the mutual exchange. In addition, there are two more reasons contributing to its efficiency. The first reason is related to the principle of contrast perception when not too serious requirement looks even less significant comparing to more serious one. This approach does not have any drawbacks. Students can be grieved finding them concerned and forced to obey. The perturbation can occur in two ways. First, a person can decide to ignore the verbal agreement with these requirements. Second, he/she may lose confidence in a manipulating and demanding partner and decide never communicate with him/her. The second reason is connected with the fact that the tactic of ejection-then-retreat encourages people not only accept the requirements but also execute them in reality and agree with other requirements in addition to them. 

A Research Study from Cialdini’s Book

Cialdini presented the case studies to support the effectiveness of the strategy of rejection-then-retreat. In particular, it has been invented a requirement that could not be accepted by many students. Thus, the college students were asked whether they agree to accompany a group of juvenile delinquents during a walk to the zoo. The proposal to accept the responsibility for a group of these people for a few hours could hardly attract them. As a result, about 83% of the students refused to do it. However, the results were completely different when the question was set in the modified form. Before offering the students to work as attendants for free, they had been asked to provide juvenile offenders with consultations for at least two years. Less serious requirement was imposed only after the students refused to perform the job, which was extremely difficult. Less serious requirement lied in going with juvenile delinquents to the zoo. Thus, the researcher achieved remarkable success by presenting a trip to the zoo as a departure from the original request. As a result, three times more number of students who were questioned volunteered to accompany a group of young offenders. 

A Second Research Study Used by another Researcher

Another researcher Stanchi highlights the effectiveness of the rejection-then-retreat approach by presenting a study that had been applied to the jurisprudence in the case Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. Thus, the law case started with the adverse criticism on granting the certiorari. It was the reasonable but unlikely to be fulfilled initial requirement. The Supreme Court would rebut the requests that are winning for Vinson, and closing the case in Vinson’s favor could be beneficial for it from the standpoint of the Court. Although the case was eventually closed in Vinson’s favor that was based on other evidence, the rejection-then-retreat technique was probably not the factor, due to which he managed to win the case. However, the appliance of the above-mentioned technique increased the chance of succeeding in the proposed case. 

Applying the Strategy

The dependence on information technologies is one of the most serious and widespread problems of the modern society. It has been put in one line with alcoholism and drug addiction since they have similar influence on people, which is the complete subordination of distraction from the real world. Although it is difficult to eliminate the addiction to information technologies, it is still possible to do it by developing a clear strategy and applying it to the practice. It is also very important to strictly follow each step of a strategy to be able to achieve the goal successfully. 

Thus, it has been decided to apply the method of rejection-then-retreat to practice in order to fight the addiction to information technologies. Given the fact that the symptoms of the disorder mentioned above can be expressed in the sudden change of human behavior, the first step of the strategy is to outline the signs that can characterize person’s addiction to the computers. This step requires creating a survey presented in Appendix A that would include questions, which can help to realize the level of individual’s dependence. The key features, according to which the students could be recognized as those who have the addiction of this type, are the following. First, there is the compulsive desire to check the updates related to a particular game or software a person is interested in. Second, there is an increase in the residence time at the computer. Third, a student does not control the costs he or she spends on the software or games as well as additional required applications. Fourth, his or her mood gets noticeably better an individual spends time at the computer and worsens without it. Fifth, there is the appearance of aggression towards distracting factors. Sixth, there is the neglect of important things for the benefit of the games. Seventh, there is a failure of an individual to manage time. Eighth, there is the replacement of the real communication with people with virtual one. Finally, there is the neglect of person’s health, hygiene, and other things in favor of the computer. The results of the survey would allow estimating the level of the person’s addiction to the information technologies. It would also include questions about individual’s hobbies, outside activities, and other facts.

The second step of the strategy is to introduce a radical method of treating the disease to every student who is affected by it, which is a full ban of the computer in its any manifestation. Even more, it will be offered to remove the computers from students’ houses or assign passwords on all devices at their homes. It is obvious that the person who has addiction to information technologies of any level will decline the proposal. The features that can characterize this person are the following: tantrums, depression, attempts to leave home, indifference, and inappropriate behavior. 

The third step of the strategy is to offer the students a gradual approach, which lies in the moderate limitation of the access to the computers. In addition, the replacement method, which involves a student in something that differs from spending time at the computer but is interesting and exciting, would be introduced. For example, some students might like extreme sports while others might be offered visiting sports events or having animals at home as well as meeting with friends more often. The task of this stage of the strategy is to return them the interest in everyday life. 

Finally, the approach would be characterized by the guidance of preventive measures that should be applicable to students during the experiment. They are the following. First, it is required to increase the interest in real events in students. Second, it is essential to avoid harsh and negative criticism regarding their hobbies and express personal opinion as gently as it is possible. Third, one has to try to understand students’ interest in information technologies, which would help to go to the rapprochement and contact. Finally, it is important to limit the access to the computer devices and use them solely as the promotion and need for the study and work. 

Evaluation of the Strategy as a Solution

Successful implementation of the strategy would have a positive impact on the students since they can gain many benefits of fighting the addiction to information technologies. Thus, students can find the replacement to this hobby in real life. For example, those who like games may pay attention to the things that are real, for example, billiards, football, bowling, chess. It would be much more beneficial to students’ health than spending of time at the computer or other electronic device for a few hours a day. Concerning fans of chatting in social networks, they could replace it with real communication. For example, they might go for a walk with friends or begin meeting and dating people in real life. Free time could be given to friends or family members and spent on going to the movies or museums. Students could also fill their time with such interesting things as walking, reading, biking, roller skating, and swimming among others. 

The proposed strategy is economically feasible since it does not require spending many funds on its implementation. On the contrary, the approach is based on students’ psychological conviction and the encouragement to abandon computer games or surfing the Internet all the time in favor of doing something really useful for them. What is more, fighting the dependence would allow students to save their money and be able to purchase things that would have long-term beneficial effects. 

The chosen strategy is completely practicable since everyone can implement it. In addition, it does not require attending a psychologist or any other specialist unless a student decides to visit them by himself/herself. At the same time, psychological factors can limit the effectiveness of the chosen approach because of a person’s weak personality and laziness. In some situations, the economic factor can become a barrier in fighting the addiction in case students decide to switch to extreme sports or any other hobbies that require significant funding in real life. 

Concerning the specific time frame for the strategy to show reasonable results, it is impossible to set it since everything depends on the student’s desire to fight the addiction, his or her strength, willpower, self-control, and self-motivation. People with strong personalities are likely need approximately up to a month to eliminate the dependence while others may require up to six months or years to do the same.


The problem of the computer and other electronic devices addiction has existed for years. However, an effective method to fight the addiction has not been developed yet. There are programs to combat the dependence, which have not been improved to the optimum level. The discussed approach called rejection-then-retreat has been proposed as an effective tool to fight the computer addiction because of the principle of contrast allowing accepting minor requirements over the complete restriction of the factors that caused the dependence. This strategy does not have any shortcomings and allows smooth transition to the deliverance of the computer and other electronic devices dependence. Given the fact that many students have the addiction of this type, there will be an attempt to apply and test the effectiveness of the discussed strategy on them in order to let those people enjoy every minute of real life.

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