Netbooks or Textbooks?

By Ivana Kosir

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As everyone knows by now, the freshmen have been generously given netbooks this year. With the internet and programs like Skype, a laptop can supply hours of entertainment. Lucky them, right? Wrong.

Staring at textbooks for hours a day can be straining enough on our eyes. Now imagine staring at textbooks on a computer screen for hours. Many of the textbooks the freshmen use are now online-only. Typing this column up is giving me enough of a headache. I can’t picture learning about DNA replication or the history of Roman architecture by staring at a computer.

By the end of high school, the class of 2014 will all be wearing glasses or contacts and live with migraines for the rest of their lives. Sure, carrying one laptop versus multiple textbooks back-and-forth from school and home is a lot easier, but I’d rather have a strong back than weak eyes and headaches. Freshman Isabel Ramirez agrees with me.

“Personally, I like textbooks. Netbooks are nice to have, but they’re a big process and more time-consuming.”

Last year, the administration blocked Facebook from the school because it was a distraction. Facebook is one of the thousands of distractions online. Freshmen have access to the internet all day and every day now. I mean, how easy is it to Google the latest pictures of Lady Gaga’s outfits or play Pac-Man in the middle of a global studies lecture instead of taking notes? Freshmen don’t have enough experience in high school yet to know when to pay attention, or when it’s okay to take a break and still understand what’s being taught in class.

Not only do the laptops give you headaches and distractions, but they give you technical difficulties as well. How many times have you made an iMovie or a PowerPoint presentation for a class, and then it doesn’t work? For me it happens so frequently that I choose not to do those types of projects when I have a choice.

What is a freshman supposed to do if they can’t turn on the computer at home, and everything they did is on it, or the battery dies in the middle of class? In the computer lab, there is a help desk/netbook support office where someone is always at the desk. If the freshmen run into problems at home, they have to come in early to school and get help then.

How convenient.

What are they supposed to do if they lose them or get them stolen? All of these issues are serious, yet, for most freshmen, they’re still trying to get used to the building and high school for that matter, let alone fixing their computers.

Principal Kaine Osburn says that one of the reasons the freshmen received netbooks was to “prepare students for 21-century skills.” Getting students ready for the work force is a great idea, and I acknowledge that, but when it comes down to all these potential health issues and problems, is it really worth it?

I don’t think it is. I feel badly for the freshmen. On top of school work and extra-curricular activities, they’ll have to cope with all these problems and difficulties. And I thought my freshman year was hard…

Freshmen weigh in: Do you love your netbook? Why? Does it cause you problems? Is it worth it? We want to know!