At present, the Internet and other technology are well-developed and keep improving. People use those new tools to do everything, and try hard to make human life easier and more perfect. From business to finances; industry to entertainment; services to education, the use of the Internet has increased and become more mainstream. Some people believe that the Internet and other electronic technology can replace all kind of jobs that humans do, including teaching students with screens and keyboards instead of books. They emphasize that the Internet can help people interact to each other beyond the barrier of distance, so books are somehow not necessary in human lives. However, in my opinion, this idea cannot be more ridiculous.
Books are irreplaceable for people to read, to learn and to think, whereas web pages and electronic database offer limited and misleading information. Moreover, the use of the Internet may bring potential risks of health and learning hindering, let alone to help people to learn. There are three main reasons why the Internet and other new technology should not replace the book as the chief tool of learning: books are more credible, valuable and meaningful; using the Internet for learning limits developing social skills; the use of the Internet brings negative results such as wasted money, wasted time and health hazard. First of all, books cannot be replaced by technology such as the Internet because the book has its value, credit and meaning. Although the Internet has become more popular and more widely used, it cannot totally replace books and become the main way that human inherit literacy. According to Ursula K. Le Guin, the article, “Staying awake: notes on the alleged decline of reading,” states that reading book is a challenge and meaningful activity. When people read, they need to use their own hands to turn pages, use their own eyes to process language, and use their own brains to think; instead of just pressing the buttons (2008, ¶ 2). Furthermore, a book has value itself.
“The book itself is a curious artifact,” Le Guin wrote, “not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little advice, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. . . . all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind” (2008, ¶ 2). On the other hand, generally speaking, the publishing process for the book is more stringent and credible than online resources. As people realize the fact that the Internet is so open and free that everyone can write anything on the web, a great amount of misleading information have been circulated for perusal around the network. It is a great challenge to distinguish which of them is true or credible; however, information from books is basically, generally believable. One of the reasons for this is that people can easily find out who the author and publisher are of a book. In contrast, an article from a web page may have trouble to prove its credibility.
In short, the Internet cannot always provide valuable message and information that respects to intellectual property rights. Therefore, people should keep using book as the chief tool of learning. Another important reason why the Internet and other technology should not replace the book is that the use of the Internet and other technology may be a travers of developing social skills. It has been confirmed by sociologists and anthropologists that the face-to-face communication between people is too important to be ignored in the society. To be honest, it is doubtless that technology such as the Internet and wireless communication system is helpful for people who need to interact across distances. However, these technologies cannot totally substitute face-to-face interaction since human technology has not been developed completely and perfectly. Network video technology probably can roughly imitate face-to-face interaction, but cannot support physical communication and focus people’s attention well. If teachers teach students only through online classes, they will not be able to look after all students in all aspects anymore, including students’ attendance performance and learning circumstances.
Also, students will lose chances to practice social skills because they are learning at home all the time. According to Steven Johnson, in the article “Everything bad is good for you,” the Internet and other technology have brought irreversible changes to the world, which is believed that these technologies will change the way people read, learn and live in the future years; yet, it is not the time now. “Television and automobile society locked people up in their living rooms, away from the clash and vitality of public space. . . . After a half-century of technological isolation, we’re finally learning new ways to connect. . . .” wrote Johnson (2005, ¶ 4). Although the Internet will probably be the next powerful tool that be wildly used in education, there are still too many uncertainty and controversy to say it. As a conclusion, the Internet should not replace the book as the main material of learning because using the Internet for learning limits the development of social skills. This is a fact at least for now. The most important reason why people should not learn totally by the Internet or other technology is that the Internet can easily damage learning quality, bringing negative effects to the student.
Chang-Hoan Cho and Hongsik John Cheon state that “One of the most serious concerns regarding children’s social development involves the proliferation and easy accessibility of negative content on the Internet, such as pornography, violence, hate speech, gambling, sexual solicitation, and so forth. It is easy to see how these types of negative content harm children and destroy their development” (2005, p. 396). The three of those bad influences that most common are wasted money, wasted time and health hazard. Firstly, Internet pornography has been a serious problem of the Internet for a long time. A lot of people addicted to it and waste their money and time on it. Most of the students are teenagers or even younger, which means most of them has not been mature enough to have appropriate self-control. Besides, there are more things can distract students that cause wasted time. For example, before students start learning by the Internet, they may go on Facebook or MSN to chat with friends or play games just for fun. Only few of them will be able to devote enough time to studying.
In general, people are easily distracted by wild variety of things on the Internet that significantly reduce the studying efficiency. Last but not least, long period that sitting in front of the computer poses potential hazards for human body such as myopia and arthralgia. To sum up, it is not suitable for students to use the Internet as the main tool to learn and to study because of the risk of negative influences of learning. All in all, because books are more credible and valuable; the Internet limits developing social skills; using the Internet brings negative affect, the Internet and other technology should not replace the book as the chief tool of learning. Interestingly, human technology will keep improving, and the social structure is changing gradually. The challenges will always be there and problems will continue to arise while new technology is coming up. So, why don’t people just keep their original, traditional, but precious way – reading the book to learn?