Newspaper article for GCSE: Task and Model.

The task is a standard AQA format task from Paper 2 Q 5. The medal is by no means perfect. I am using it alongside a lesson to familiarise students with the mark scheme. Students could be encouraged to apply the scheme to this model passage or to their own work.

The model was written in 40 minutes during a writing assessment and shows this in terms of the content of the arguments, I think. It’s not an easy task. Students might be encouraged to recognise the devices and structural elements of the writing.

Example Question

Paper 2 Section B: Writing

You are advised to spend about 45 minutes on this section.

Write in full sentences.

You are reminded of the need to plan your answer.

You should leave enough time to check your work at the end.

‘Technologies such as mobile phones and computers are useful, but we use them too much. They are taking over our lives.’

Write an article for a newspaper in which you argue for or against this statement.

(24 marks for content and organisation

16 marks for technical accuracy)

[40 marks]

‘Technologies such as mobile phones and computers are useful, but we use them too much. They are taking over our lives.’

Write an article for a newspaper in which you argue for or against this statement.

All articles need a headline – provide one and offer a journalist’s name. If possible, make the headline memorable, either by imagery or emotive language.

Common Sense? Not if you’re glued to a mobile.

An Article by Hamish McCunn.

Then outline your argument and define the 3 areas you will be considering. Remember most articles are written in short paragraphs.

A recently released movie – Cyberlifesaver – is making waves because of the idea it presents: technology is vital. So vital that we should let it take over our thoughts and deeds and stop worrying about the issues raised by this idea. In this article I take issue with this premise and suggest that the message of the film is dangerous – personally, financially and morally.

Having established the 3 areas of consideration, take each in turn and explore them –sticking to your chosen pro or con side of the debater. Use the IED structure to build your point…

On a personal level, the danger of over reliance on technology comes down to the loss of common sense in areas which once we humans excelled. An example relevant to many is in the area of romance.

Romance? Consider this: over 75% of respondents to a recent poll on Twitter said that they let their dating apps find suitable matches for them. That is to say, they put their trust in technology and let it overrule the signals which for centuries have enabled humans to find partners for life.  (You don’t have to believe it, by the way, just make it sound as though you do).

Averil Cameron (23), a charming young lady with a bright future in taxidermy, is a good example of how this can cause havoc. Despite having plenty of opportunities to find romance and even love in her everyday life, Averil felt FOMO pressure to go online and to use dating websites based on a series of algorithms which seemed to offer a stress free route to her dreams. ‘It all seemed so easy and so safe’ she said. ‘I put all my faith into Lovefinders and now I am broken hearted. I can’t believe I was so stupid!’.

The truth is that all such sites take our personal information not to help us to find love but to target their advertising and to sell to the highest bidders in terms of personal information. On many sites such as this, photographs, often intimate photographs, are uploaded. These find their way to all corners of the internet.

Now move onto the next section –the second of the three ideas outlined. Maybe bring in some authoritative voice to quote in this section.

Another risk of such sites and many like them is the control that they can take over our money. Peter Jones, Senior Customer Support Officer at Barclay’s Bank takes this very seriously indeed.

‘Many people do not realise the danger of signing up to websites and entering into a legally binding agreement.’, says Jones, ‘Too often the website asks for money upfront with a requirement to cancel which in over 60% of cases is missed due to forgetfulness, misunderstanding or lethargy.’ In short, he continues, entering into these kind of arrangements, though seemingly for convenience, leads to potentially destructive downward spirals. Credit scores are affected. Loans refused. Lives ruined.

The moral argument is reflected in the attitudes of the Big Tech companies. They tell us that we can’t live without the benefit of EE total broadband, or wall to wall streaming of dubious content on Netflix or Prime, yet this is untrue.

And the third and final section before a conclusion:

Too often the glamorous pitches are linked to nothing other than making money for the shareholders. Why should they care about the individual. The one who spends hours scrolling through the content on these channels before giving up to see if there’s anything interesting on ‘real TV’. There isn’t. There’s no money left in ‘real TV’. Instead, such activities create a definite sense of failure and let down. A noted psychiatrist said:  ‘I work with teenagers. There’s so much low self-esteem these days. Although it sounds daft, much comes from the feeling that they are entitled to so much more from their online activities. It’s as though they think they have bought happiness.’

It is clear to me. Put aside the corporate hype and look at the reality of the way in which Big Tech is manipulating us and the danger is clear. Our freedom of thought, our freedom of action and our freedom to simply be human is endangered by our slavish adherence to technology.

It is time for a change. Time to put the clocks back.