Negative impacts of technology use in higher education: technology and curriculum: summer 2022 (2023)

Waffa Qurbani
Technical University of Ontario

This chapter looks at the negative impact that the use of technology in higher education classrooms has on students. It also discusses how educators can balance technology use in higher education classrooms to avoid these impacts and the impact they can have on the curriculum to encourage healthy technology use. This document focuses on highlighting the disadvantages of using technology in the classroom. According to research, there has been an increase in mental health issues among high school students, leading to anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties associated with technology use (Lynch, 2018). Using technology for academic purposes is a huge distraction for students and makes it difficult to multitask. Research shows that students aren't the only ones experiencing stress or anxiety about learning to use technology in the classroom. During the pandemic, “many instructors experienced stress when learning new technologies and had to work overtime” (Sharaievska et al., 2022). Teaching students to use technology effectively is an integral part of any educator's job, but educators need to lead by example when it comes to using technology in the classroom. You should avoid excessive use of technology in the classroom when students are working individually, especially when using email or even instant messaging with a colleague. Because technology offers so many benefits to the learning experience for educators and students alike, helping students strike a balance between healthy technology use and the negative impacts it can cause is extremely important.

key words

Higher education, digital citizen, didactic approaches

The use of technology has increased in all higher education classrooms. As teachers integrate various aspects of their teaching using computers to support their students, the impact is often overlooked. According to research, “many students “don't easily become comfortable with computer technologies” (McCoy, 2010). During the pandemic, students had no choice but to take their classes online without having any experience. One student mentioned that looking at a computer every day gave him a lot of headaches (Moralista, 2020). Obviously, these types of illnesses can lead to bigger problems. In addition, in higher education, students may feel intimidated when introduced to the use of technology, especially if they do not have prior knowledge. As teachers use technology in the classroom, it is important that they are aware of the negative impact it has on higher education students.

The use of technology in higher education classrooms involves both positive and negative impacts. While the positive effects far outweigh the negatives, it is important not to ignore the negatives as they can be harmful. However, the biggest impact that students face when they have to use social media for academic purposes is the feeling of information overload (Gao et al., 2012). When students are in the learning process, it is important that they feel they need to review any published material. Furthermore, research shows that the use of technology for learning purposes also has negative effects on student skill development and psychological outcomes (Ewelina, 2012). Some skills that may be negatively impacted include students' ability to improve their reading and writing skills.

Despite all the benefits of technology, it is clear that the use of technology for academic purposes has an adverse effect on students. Furthermore, research shows that these harmful effects lead to harmful behaviors (Whitaker, 2016). When considering the use of technology in the classroom, teachers are in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to use technology in the classroom. This chapter looks at the impact of technology use on information overload, the impact on specific skill development, and suggestions for using technology in the classroom.

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No new teaching approaches were introduced

Research shows that when introduced into higher education, technology has often been “used to enhance rather than replace existing teaching approaches” (Flavin, 2016, p. 5). For example, when a lecture was presented with some computer graphics, there was no change in the lecture and it was presented in its basic form. While this may seem benign, unless changes are made to traditional teaching practices, teachers will be more concerned about technicalities than the quality of their teaching materials (Flavin, 2016, p. 5).

Additionally, it is important for teachers to keep in mind that integrating technology into their curriculum and instruction is “not a silver bullet” that allows students to easily memorize or better understand material (Gumport, 2015, p. 23).

However, it is important for college students to receive up-to-date, high-quality teaching materials. This requires educators to provide quality teaching and pay less attention to the use of technology in the classroom.

Increases mental problems

Excessive exposure and use of technology can lead to significant mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, suicide, and behavioral problems (Becker, 2015). Evidence of the negative impact of technology use in higher education has grown over the years, making it questionable whether technology use in the classroom is laudable or dismissive. For example, when English learners use technology in the classroom, it can be difficult for them not only to learn a language, but also to learn how to use a computer and technology.

This can leave them feeling anxious and overwhelmed, spending more time learning the technology than the course itself.


Educators use technology in the classroom in hopes of improving students' academic performance. However, technology use can be perceived as a distraction when students have difficulty juggling between learning course material and trying to navigate technology use. Research has shown that when students have access to laptops in the classroom, students often juggle multitasking, which reduces academic performance (Fried, 2008).

However, striking a balance between students' use of technology and learning new material would not result in a successful learning experience. Therefore, it would probably be better for educators to use technology in all materials that students are familiar with.

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The inability to introduce new teaching approaches with the use of technology, the increase in mental health problems, and difficulty multitasking when using technology in the classroom are all associated with poor student learning experiences. However, higher education educators need to discuss impact while making students aware of these long-term impacts. To educate students about the negative impact technology can have on them, it's important to teach them how to foster a healthy environment and avoid burnout.

Some alternatives to using technology that teachers can rely on are for students to gather in the traditional classroom for meetings, group work, and presentations without having to manage technology use in the classroom. However, if necessary, technology can be used at the student's time to access course information.

Empower students to become healthy digital citizens

When teaching students to use digital technologies effectively and appropriately, it is important to consider the negative effects, particularly the mental health problems they can cause. To make students healthy digital citizens, they must learn to encourage themselves to step away from technology every 30 minutes or less to avoid feelings of anxiety or depression.

By making students aware of these effects, they can get an idea of ​​what excessive use of technology can do for them and how they can avoid getting to the point of showing symptoms of mental health issues. It is important to note that technology used by students where collaboration is needed, such as B. when playing Kahoot! (2022) is definitely more disruptive than teacher-led technology such as a PowerPoint presentation (Microsoft, 2022).

While emphasizing the importance of being a healthy digital citizen, it will ensure students feel safe and comfortable as they perform short multitasking exercises between using technology and learning course material. Research recommends that when students feel they are unable to multitask because they are distracted by technology, creating a visual reminder and posting it is a healthy way to encourage persistence (Lettrick, 2016).

Another way that educators can transform students into healthy digital citizens is by leading by example. With access to technology at your fingertips, it's often easy to respond to emails while you're teaching a class or messaging other classmates for information. Trying to avoid these instances helps students recognize when they should and shouldn't use technology.

Agreement on the use of technology

Educators should have an agreement to present to students in the classroom that outlines the importance of certain aspects of using technology. Some logs you might mention are students turning to their professors or peers when they feel like they don't know how to find or use something. Educators must present this agreement to students before using technology in the classroom to promote a healthy learning environment for students.

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Before using specific technologies in the classroom, it is important that educators and schools do extensive research on the specific computer programs being used. This helps them decide whether the impact of these programs is actually having a positive or negative impact on students. As technology changes so quickly, it's important for educators to be constantly aware of the negative impact it can have, so this is the number one priority.

Becker, S. (2015, March).This Is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Technology on Mental Health[PDF file].

Flavin, M. (2016). Disruptive Behavior: The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Social Relations in Higher Education.Innovations in education and international teaching, 53(1), 3–15.

Frito, C. (2008). The use of laptops in the classroom and its impact on student learning.Information Technology and Education, 50(3), 906–914.

Gao F, Luo T e Zhang K (2012). Tweet to Learn: A Critical Analysis of Research on Microblogging in Education publicado 2008–2011.British Journal of Educational Technology 43(5): 783–801.

Gumport, P & Chun, M (2015). Technology and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges for the New Era.INSANIA: Jornal para pensamento pedagogico alternativo, 12(2), 263–283.


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Lettrick, S. (2016, May 16). The clash between brain development and classroom technology. [blog post].learning and the brain.

Lynch, M. (July 6, 2018). Consequences of the new digital childhood. [blog post].The Technology Defender.

McCoy, C. (2010). Perception of self-efficacy and technological literacy among university students.Information Technology and Education, 55(4), 1614–1617.

Microsoft (2022).Power Point.

Moralista, R., & Oducado, M. (2020). Faculty perceptions of online education at a public university in the Philippines during the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic. Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(10): 4736-4742.

Sharaievska , I. , McAnirlin , O. , Browning , M. , Larson , L.R. , Mullenbach , L. , Rigolon , A. , D'Antonio , A. , Cloutier , S. , Thomsen , J. , Metcalf , EC. , & Reigner , N. ( 2022 ). "Chaotic Transitions": Student Perspectives on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Higher Education.University education,1-18 Online Prerelease.

Whitaker, J., New, J. & Ireland, R. (2016). MOOCS and Online Delivery of Business Education What's New? Is not? And now?Academy for Management Learning and Education 15(2): 345–65.

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