The motion for the first round of the 13th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition was "Hong Kong teenagers are too attached to electronic gadgets".
A visiting team of Gary Lai Cheung-ka, Didi Cheung Che-cheung and Wilson Tse Siu-hang, from STFA Leung Kau Kui College, faced Tuen Mun Catholic Secondary School's home side comprising Melody Chung Ho-yee, Fung Cheuk-him, and Macy Lee Mei-sze. Two former university debaters, Yu Ming-hei and Brenda Tsang, acted as adjudicators.
Leung Kau Kui's team, who backed the motion, lost to Tuen Mun, who argued against it.
The visitors built their case by talking about the potential hazards of using electronic gadgets. Teenagers would end up with poor social lives and physical health if they play with electronic gadgets for a long time, they said.
Yet Tuen Mun dismissed this view, arguing that electronic gadgets will not cause problems if teenagers use them sensibly. They questioned Leung Kau Kui about their definition of "too attached", and said using electronic gadgets did not mean students were addicted to them. They mentioned the positive uses of electronic gadgets, such as e-learning products.
The team arguing against the motion were judged to have the edge because of stronger rebuttals and better delivery. Facing rebuttals from their rivals, Leung Kau Kui's team failed to react, which ultimately led to their defeat.
Tuen Mun did not address questions raised by their rivals, Yu said. "The team against the motion were unable to respond to rebuttals. They certainly did a good job delivering the materials that they have prepared, but lacked the ability to think on their feet to provide immediate reaction," he said.
Yet the team supporting the motion were also criticised for giving weak examples to demonstrate their case. "They gave examples of individuals being addicted to electronic devices to back the view that it is bad to be too attached to electronic devices. But that was not a good approach. It would have been more convincing to use research and statistics to argue their case," Tsang said.
The confident presentation of the team opposing the motion earned them points. "The speakers opposing the motion were confident speaking English. They rarely looked at note cards and had eye contact with the audience," Yu said.
The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.