Technology in Higher Education

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Dillon Polley - Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis - Student of Media Arts and Science

Technology in Higher Education

Mental health has been on a decline for people ages 15 to 21; we have the worst mental health of any generation in the US. Technology is an underrated tool for making a change in this epidemic. I believe we need to start acting on this problem and use constantly improving technology to improve the sanity of this generation. Those with poor mental health often turn to substance abuse or have suicidal thoughts. Technology presents us with many opportunities, as well as disadvantages. But if used in the correct manner, it is a helpful tool and resource. I use organization applications, calming meditation programs and health technology to help make me a better person.

Being a proud and active member of IUPUI’s School of Informatics and Computing means I’m surrounded by technology every day. I am often overwhelmed, and stress out about upcoming assignments or quizzes. Luckily, I have Headspace, a meditation app, on my phone and laptop. Meditation is a powerful tool in assisting with focusing and calming down, the lack of which harms the productivity of many college students. I believe we could all benefit as a society if we took five or ten minutes out of our day to sit down, load up an application, and take some deep breaths. College is such a high-stress environment, and technology used in this way is so beneficial. I had a nine-hundred-word research report due a few weeks ago, and I don’t believe I would have been able to clear my head and finish it if I hadn’t used an app like Headspace.

Smart watches and fitness bands are pieces of technology I never thought I would find myself loving. But now in college, more than ever, it’s important to make sure I am active throughout the day. The Apple Watch is my preferred device to help track my physical activity, but the Fitbit and other brands work just as well. I enjoy walking around campus with friends or strolling along the Indianapolis canal, and it’s so nice to look at my watch and see I’m burning calories and getting exercise throughout the day.

College students have to learn how to organize and prioritize. Google Keep is a webpage built into Google that helps to take and organize notes. I’ve used it since my Sophomore year in High School and continue using it in college. It helps me immensely when I write down to-do lists and organize what work to prioritize. I of course, have my written planner as well, but that can be inconvenient to pull out, find the right page, and struggle with how much space I’m given. Technology helps me not worry about writing too much information, and I believe all college students could benefit from an online schedule or planner.

I have a very unique experience with mental health and know my story can help those struggling as well. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness. I’ve been suffering from it for about two years, but only recently went out of my way for help. I have a lot of healthy habits thanks to technology and I plan on using the examples I’ve given more often. With technology, it’s so easy to have every resource in one place. I can turn my phone on, look at my activity, mindful minutes, and planner within a few taps.

Even without a mental illness, self-love and understanding are crucial for college students. We can’t find the motivation to finish a report, study for a test, or make new friends without first feeling peace. I encourage everyone I know to use these healthy habits and improve their mental health. My voice and story already make an impact every day. I run a daily public blog on Instagram focusing on finding optimism and positivity in every post I make. With over 200 followers, I know my voice is being heard. Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to find my voice to help so many people my age.

All of the examples I’ve listed and explained above have a common theme, the mental wellbeing of college students, and society as a whole. It’s so easy to find ourselves overwhelmed, and beaten down by life. My advice to anyone currently struggling to find inner peace is to take some time out of your day for exercise, mindfulness, and structure. Being organized can help reduce troubling thoughts and worrying about forgetting something important. Just using a simple planning website or app cause such a difference. Starting and ending your day with Headspace, or any kind of breathing exercise, can lower blood pressure and improve your heart rate. And any kind of exercise can boost your mood, and even help stabilize mental health.

I know the goal and message I have are going to take time to be heard and encouraged. But I’m a persistent and stubborn individual, so I’m going to use my life to encourage as many people as I can. We’re all such unique and beautiful people, and I want others to understand that. I’ll stop at nothing until I’ve touched the hearts of many and helped make our society a better and happier place to live.