How to Answer All Parts of the Questions in Writing Task 2

RECENTLY THERE HAVE BEEN TWO VERY SIMILAR TASK 2 QUESTIONS:

1. Parents are encouraging their children to spend an increasing amount of time on tablets and screens because they think it will improve their technological skills.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

and

2) Young people are spending an increasing amount of time on tablets and phones as a form of entertainment.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

When you first look at the questions, you think they’re about the common topic of children/young people spending too much time on screens.

But when you look closer, you see how easy it would be to NOT answer the question properly.

What are the Questions?

Question 1

The first question asks you to discuss

  • WHY parents think using a tablet will improve their children’s technological skills and

  • WHETHER this is a good thing or not (advantages and disadvantages)

Why do they believe this? (e.g. news reports about employment opportunities)

Advantages: Should they let their children spend time on tablets? (e.g. yes – it’s an essential skill for the future)

Disadvantages: Is this the best way of learning technological skills? (e.g. no – children need quality training, not YouTube videos)

Or is it just a way of keeping the children entertained while the parents get on with something else?

To do the task well, you need to address these questions.

  • Don’t talk about how convenient a mobile phone/tablet is.

  • Don’t talk about how all teenagers need a phone for emergencies.

  • Don’t argue that children can do their homework on screen.

What IS relevant is the belief that screen time will enhance a child’s technological skills.

You have to discuss this.

It is certainly true that a knowledge of technology is an indispensable skill for today’s generation of children. Knowing how to ‘code’, we are told, will guarantee a stable and well-paid job in the not-too-distant future where other jobs will be scarce. Therefore it is understandable that parents want to foster a child’s interest in computing. However, we have to question the extent to which these desirable skills are being acquired when a child is left for hours on a tablet, and the motives of the parents must be analysed in order to ensure the successful and healthy development of the child.

As mentioned above, computer skills will be essential for young people to find employment in the future. For this reason, more emphasis must be put on developing IT skills in school, where provision still seems to be sadly lacking. Parents may feel they have to compensate for the lack of IT training on the curriculum and believe they are doing what’s best for the child by allowing them to use computers at home.

Unfortunately, in my experience, children left unsupervised do not learn anything of great benefit. On the contrary, they tend to spend their time watching trivial, mind-numbing Youtube videos. And though they may know how to digitally enhance an Instagram photo, what they produce is often worthless and requiring very little talent.

To sum up, I am not denying the need for children to develop expert IT skills, but using tablets at home is not the most effective way to achieve this. Training needs to be managed and targeted at specific areas which have been identified by experts as being the skills that will be in great demand. The government must do more to ensure this training is a priority on the school curriculum rather than leaving it to the well-meaning but uninformed amateurs at home who are just hoping for the best.

(316 words)

Question 2

Young people are spending an increasing amount of time on tablets and phones as a form of entertainment.

Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

This question asks you to discuss whether the increasing amount of time spent on screen for ENTERTAINMENT is a positive thing or negative thing.

  • Do discuss the types of entertainment on tablets and phones (films, games, YouTube clips, social media).

  • Do talk about the advantages of using phones and tables for entertainment (Quite difficult: Parents always know where they are? Cheap/affordable? Convenient? Greater choice? Educational content?)

  • Do talk about the disadvantages (Are other forms of entertainment – sport, hobbies, socialising, reading – in decline because of the screen? Does this matter? Is it harmful? What are the consequences? Addictive? Effect on attention span? Literacy skills)

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