Can you hear me now?

I dare you not to look at your phone or e-mail for the length of this article.

Clearly technology is evolving faster than we are…or is it? Recently the thinking on this subject has shifted. Researchers now pick sides on the technology debate: is it helping or hurting us? Are we becoming attention-deficit or multitasking geniuses? Personally I’ve always thought of myself as pretty well focused – that is, until I began reading material on the subject of distraction and tallied for myself that I had picked up my phone four separate times while reading one article.

I just picked up my phone again. I had a new message.

But when education comes in, how is this technology helping? Thousands of schools all over the country and all over the world are learning to implement the newest technologies into their curricula. Everything from Smart Boards to media cabinets meant to project anything from slideshows to YouTube on a classroom wall are in classrooms at the grade school level all the way up to higher education.

Of course, this could speak to the next generation’s affinity for gadgetry and their productive and effective use of it. Or, instead it could speak for today’s general distraction when it comes to, well, anything.

High schools all over the country use computer labs to teach their students subjects from math to Spanish; although they are careful to block sites like Facebook and Twitter from their networks. Colleges and universities all over allow students to bring their laptops to class. Banning them in a college-level class is infrequent, but upsetting to students. Why? Professors know what they’re really doing: Facebook, Twitter, blogging, shopping – basically anything but taking notes.

Writing rather than typing is not only a good way to avoid distraction when it comes to these things; that is, certain tasks that really don’t require the internet, like note-taking, to-do lists, simple writing tasks, all communication (anyone remember face-to-face meetings?). Writing rests the eyes to a certain extent, instead of being blinded by the light of a computer screen. The physical act of writing anything you need to means you are more likely to remember it than if you were typing like a robot. Seeing things in your own handwriting, being able to doodle, write with your own annotation without it being spell-checked – all things that make writing things down easier and more beneficial than creating software to remind you of menial tasks.

So what is right? Certainly we cannot, as a society, go back on technology now. We’re in too deep. The only thing left to consider is to be careful of our time spent with everything tech, before we end up losing our minds in it and making ourselves less productive.