Gone are the days when we would look down at our wrists to check the time, now all we have to do is get out our smartphones, with the added benefit of increased accuracy.
The shift from analog to digital, however, is now taking its toll on youngsters as they have become so accustomed to the latter that telling the time on analog clocks is proving to be a real challenge.
In fact, UK schools are now responding to this by removing analog clocks in exam halls. Brand new digital clocks will be installed in replacement of their now-outdated counterparts.
The new clocks are set to benefit schoolkids sitting their GCSE exams (in the UK equivalent of 10th grade) and students sitting their A-levels, (a rough US equivalent being a high school diploma).
Action was taken following complaints from students aged between 14 and 18 who were unhappy with the use of analog clocks in exams halls, as they were unable to read the exact time on them.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), explained that teenagers have become used to telling the time on digital devices. “The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he told The Telegraph.
“They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”
The former principal added that schools hope the move will allow students to feel as calm and stress-free as possible during their exams. Unfortunately, the use of analog clocks could be adding to the pressure of the situation.
Trobe also stated that the aim of the change was to make tense situations in which students are assessed “as easy and straightforward as possible”.
“You don’t want them to put their hand up to ask how much time is left,” he clarified. “Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as the can be. There is actually a big advantage in using digital clocks in exam rooms because it is much less easy to mistake a time on a digital clock when you are working against time.”
However, it is not just traditional methods of telling the time that youngsters are now having difficulties with, apparently, students are now increasingly unable to perform the basic academic task of writing with a pen.
Pediatric doctor Sally Payne warned that overindulging in smartphones and other digital devices, is having a detrimental effect on their ability to hold a pen or pencil.
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunities to develop those skills,” she explained.
“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
There is something pretty uncomfortable about the fact that technology is having such an effect on kids that they are unable to perform simple tasks. However, that is simply the world we now live in.