The Benefits and Downfalls of Internet Trends By: Camilla Dalen

Students are participating in internet trends, the dilemma is; It’s beginning to interrupt education.

Internet trends can be valuable, humorous, and enjoyable. Grumpy Cat, Doge, and Pepe the Frog are all examples of one type of trend called memes. Memes are wide in variety; most are harmless and funny.

Challenges are another type of internet trends. They are things that people do then upload challenging people to join in. Challenges can be fun, disruptive, positive, or dangerous.

A challenge that went viral, the ice bucket challenge, that was for awareness of a disease, was harmless and helped people become aware of the disease. Another challenge, the cinnamon challenge, was dangerous and can be fatal.

The largest problems with these trends, other than their dangers, is how they are beginning to affect schools. In early fall, a water bottle flip challenge went insanely viral.

The water bottle flip challenge caused a commotion all over, especially here in Westport, Connecticut. In October, a child landed a water bottle on a ledge attached to the ceiling in CMS.

Afterwards there was the mannequin and “Andy is coming” challenges that began to really disrupt classes. In school kids would freeze up and videotape the scenes they had created or collapse after a couple of words in heaps on the floor.

In recent polling 92.3% of students have participated in challenges of various type during class time, taking away from education time. This poll is shocking because a kid’s number one priority should always be learning.

However, memes are not to be dismissed because 46% of students say they would pay better attention in class if the memes were included in class. This means that because memes appeal to kids who don’t usually pay, attention grades could improve because they are now paying attention.

In an interview, Kate Cullimore - a student at Coleytown Middle - states, “Yes I have participated in challenges, like ‘Andy is coming’ and mannequin challenge in class, in math and art”.

Another student. Kat Bazarko suggests, “I did the challenges a lot, mostly the mannequin challenge; it was planned but it really was distracting”.

This would suggest internet trends are nothing but trouble. However, the same students say that the same trends could be used to increase interest in school.

Kate expresses her opinions on internet trends in class, “Yes if teachers maybe put puns that have to do with memes, references and such into their presentations”.

Of recently, teachers have been struggling to captivate their students, Varying at the part of the class, the average attention span can be as short as 3-4 minutes according to The Science of Attention: How To Capture And Hold The Attention of Easily Distracted Students By Saga Briggs. One way to change this is including these memes in class.

Memes can vary on appropriateness and relevance to class. For instance, in Social Studies there heaps of history memes that could be used to spike children's interest. In Science, they have jokes related to Science, so on and so forth for every other subject as well.

Memes are essentially just jokes that take a little more understanding and thought process behind them. Memes can be a simple photo of the daily subject with a punchline caption that would only make sense if you understand the topic.

By adding such a simple idea or joke, middle school students will feel more engrossed in the subject. Putting a reference in meme format will make the class more inclined to pay attention to understand the joke, more so then if it was written flat out.

The end point is, Internet trends are powerful tools and hurtful weapons in education. The only difference is how the administration staff teachers and students deal with the fun but, controversial subject.

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