As a kid, I would beg and beg to use the computer. ”No. I’m on Facebook”, my sister would say in exasperation as I moaned at the unfairness of it all. She would sit in the corner of the room for hours upon end, her expressionless face lit up by the bright screen of the family computer. Always sulking with anger and frustration, yet enthralled by the on-goings within the world of the web. I wondered how something she enjoyed so much could affect her mood in the way it did. I would soon learn to understand this and experience the same teenage angst; a feeling that is certainly maximized by the negative effects of technology.
Teens of the 21st century have grown up in a society where technology is constantly developing and upgrading. Its use in everyday life is becoming ever more prominent and it is used to such an extent that it is bound to have a considerable impact on the lives of the young. Mobile phones, games consoles, laptops, iPods. We are encouraged by giant corporations to demand the latest gadgets, often without considering their importance to us. As The Black Eyed Peas recently said, ‘this is the NOW generation’.
The most popular application of modern-day technology is undoubtedly the internet. Young people are particularly keen on using social networks. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are fantastic in the way they allow us to keep in touch with our friends. But what impact do these sites actually have on us? Well, I’ll begin telling you by dismantling the name ‘social media’. Ironically, these sites have more of an anti-social impact on teens than they do a social one. Their use is addictive by nature. Users often find themselves glued to the screens of their phones and laptops while communicating with their friends online.
Some teens don’t understand that you can actually have a real conversation with these ‘friends’ by getting off your ass and meeting up with them in the real world! It is laughable that a large number of teens genuinely believe social networking suffices as a form of real social activity. You can send people as many messages as you want, it won’t improve the people skills that you will need later in life. As entertaining as social networks may be, I believe that addictive technology like them is isolating individuals from society and nurturing a new generation of young adults with substandard social abilities.
When I was originally introduced to Twitter, I saw it as a wonder of the internet. It was and still is a wonderful website. You can carefully tailor the information that is supplied to you by choosing who you wish to ‘’follow’’ and it works by bombarding you with a constant stream of information in a matter of seconds. Believe me, it has a very rich entertainment value. However, it can become extremely addictive and is often used excessively. I experienced this for myself last year. Very frequently, I would come home and spend my time scrolling through my twitter feed for the remainder of the day.
By over-using it, Twitter became a hindrance to both my school work and social life. So when I realised that I had to control my usage, I decided to take a break from all forms of social media. The 6 months that followed were hugely refreshing. I began to feel a lot happier and generally more energetic when I wasn’t glued to my laptop. Without a doubt, I advise other students to try out a similar solution. The cold turkey made me realise how technology impacts adversely on young people. For the first time in my life, I felt fortunate to still possess my ancient, battered Sony Ericsson. I was and am no longer jealous of those who flash about their expensive touch-screen whatever megapixel phones. I am glad that I’m unable to download the latest ‘’ios4 update’’. I use my phone to ring people because that’s the function that Alexander Graham Bell decided it would have.
Children growing up today are immersed in technology while they are developing and still experiencing the joys of childhood. Many believe that it is vital they are taught about I.T. from an early age as it is such an integral part of modern society. As the internet is becoming ingrained in our lives, computer skills are clearly becoming vital. However, can we justify the encouragement of technology in a child’s life when the long-term effects of its use are yet to be uncovered? I don’t think so. Experts believe that technology can elevate a child’s exasperation, diminish their patience levels and hinder their writing and communication skills. I would go as far to say that parents who encourage and allow their children to use technology excessively are morally in the wrong.
When we think back to our childhood, what memories stand out for us the most? For me, it is those long summer days that were spent outside. Being active. Exploring. Racing go-karts. Building tree houses. Playing sports. These activities shaped us and built our characters. Without them we would be boring. And the truth is that overindulging in technology halts an active life. This technological generation endangers children from missing out on an important stage of their development. No one says ‘’remember that time I shot a load of Nazi zombies on Call Of Duty’’.
It is seriously worrying that a child would choose to confine him/herself to the realms of a virtual world rather than experience childhood as it should be. The impact of an unfulfilled childhood can be devastating in later life. This is another reason why the influence of technology should be controlled and moderated, especially in relation to young people.
I expect the impact of technology on the young generation to become clearer at a later date. A divide may well emerge between the characteristics of those who were brought up under a technological influence and those who were shielded from technology during their childhood. A neurological divide, to be precise. In a survey released in 2011, 55% agreed with a statement that in 2020 the brains of young people would be “wired” differently from those over 35.
The excessive use of technology may effectively cause this to happen. Because internet access is becoming increasingly efficient, we are constantly gaining a thirst for instant gratification. Online, we have access to innumerable content at incredible speeds. Our concentration p must be deteriorating as we now rely on a constant feed of information to satisfy our shallow brains. It’s quite sad that the immediate reaction to our problems is often simply ‘’I’ll google it’’ or ‘’Yahoo Answers will know this’’. We’ve stopped thinking about these problems ourselves. What’s the point? The answers are already there, on the internet. Perhaps, the deep thinking skills our ancestors once possessed are becoming lost upon the youth of today. Computers have begun to re-wire us with different intellectual capabilities.
The same 55% in the survey of 2011 predicted that the youth of today would excel in mental processing and in searching effectively for information online. I would label these qualities as traits of a robot. Technology takes away our spirit and our ability to think for ourselves. And by glancing around a typical group of students, you may observe a certain lack of atmosphere. You will notice some students who choose not to interact with each other, instead, all attention fixed on their phones. The sad reality is that these devices are responsible for de-humanising our society.
Despite this, technology is constantly developing and often for a good outcome. But some might say that we were better off in the days when apple and blackberry were just fruit.
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