Technology is inescapable, but has it improved learning? Is it possible that the way we're using technology is making us worse readers? Are we all becoming a bunch of non-critical readers with 6-second attention spans? Stick around and let's think about it. [snap] Hi. Welcome to Snap Language. Marc Franco here. Kevin left this comment to a recent video: ["I would say I was once an avid reader before my Smartphone came along and pretty much took all of the time I used to devote to long-form text. Do sports blurbs and Facebook count as reading? I consider them fast food for the brain."] Well, I guess, just like food, technology can be good or bad for you. A lot of research shows that, depending on how it's used, technology can actually enhance learning. Technology gives us quick access to a large volume of information that was unimaginable not long ago. But new technologies also create new concerns… perhaps because we don't understand its impact yet. Some studies suggest that technology can support teaching and learning. Other studies suggest that young Americans are turning to the Internet instead of using their textbooks. That can be alarming to some because, let's be honest, there is a lot of junk on the Internet. But then… perhaps it's about educating learners on how to be informed users of technology so they know how to evaluate the information. Limiting learners to a single source is like giving them only pea soup when they have a whole buffet right in front of them. (I like pea soup, though…) It's no surprise that a lot of textbooks have companion websites and apps. Publishers know learners want to supplement their learning that way, so publishers make good use of the available technology. Way back in 2002, Stephanie Harvey realized that her classroom had mostly fiction books around for her students. But adults read a variety of both fiction and nonfiction, so she recommended using online resources to give students a variety of materials. That can actually motivate students to use the Internet to read more and learn on their own. Most instructors know that they can (and should) integrate technology into their classrooms. But why would you include social media, blogs, YouTube, and other resources that some may consider "time wasters?" It's important to use what's relevant to learners as a springboard for learning. Some say social media is the "gateway drug" to consumer products. Can't social media also be used as a "gateway drug" to reading and learning?… Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. But we don't read only for academic purposes. I often read because I have a reason to. Other times, I find something so fascinating that I want to know more, so I read about it. The problem is the Internet has both good information and misinformation. Who posted the information? What sources did they use? Are they experts in the field? If we can't tell, we must take the information with a grain of salt. But that's the key point! If we're really interested in something, we make sure it's from a reputable source. We compare different sources. We question the information. So, social media, a short article on the Internet, even a YouTube video, can be a starting point of your interest. I don't see anything wrong with that. Our fellow viewer called this "fast food for the brain." It can also be "an appetizer" for the brain Another concern, especially regarding social media, is that it may give you a false sense of understanding a topic. You read a short blurb about something and you think "I know this… I read about it!" (on a tweet)… Don't do this … that's just silly … Ultimately, it's up to us to be critical readers and choose to find more and better information about a topic. [snap] Back to our original questions, does reading short messages in social media help or get in the way of developing our reading skills? Is technology making us worse readers? I don't think there's a clear-cut answer. We all have different experiences with the language, most of which we create ourselves. Maybe it is true that easy access to information also made it easier for us to read from a single source and with little depth of thought. But was it any different in the past? Before the digital age, was everyone a critical reader? I'm not so sure about that… Being educated consumers of information has been and should always be integral to literacy regardless where the information comes from. Do you seek out more information about things that interest you? Are we becoming worse readers? Are we becoming worse thinkers or worse learners? I'd like to know what you think, so leave a comment below. uh… you can give us your opinion or read more about it and let us know. Please like this video and subscribe. Let's help this community grow so more people can get smarter through language. And until the next time, thanks for stopping by and watching this video.