Hooked On Technology

Are We Too Hooked on Technology?

We are often told to take the advancements in technology with a grain of salt. Although such advancements allow people all over the world to gain and share a myriad of information, they have also connected the globe in ways unmatched in any other time. Those who are critical of its effects, however, argue that it also means losing touch with one another, and ourselves.

Those who grew up without the Internet, cell phones, mobile devices – our parents, teachers, and people born before 1995 – boast an enchanted childhood chock-full of adventure, imagination, and skinned knees.

They shake their heads at toddlers playing games on iPads instead of climbing trees, at kids playing video games for hours on end while the sun is shining just outside their windows, at teens refusing to be torn away from their phones even for a moment to have a conversation outside of alternating little blue and green boxes on a screen.

“Where is their sense of wonder?” they implore. “Why aren’t they exploring the world around them?” they demand. It is almost as if we’ve become two different species, one perplexedly studying the other, while the other is sedated with Instagram.

Emily Nieliwocki, a freshman psychology student, believes that technology is doing some kind of harm to children. “My cousins, who are nine, seven, and five years old, are always on their own iPads playing Minecraft,” she said. “I definitely think it’s becoming a problem because they’d rather play games by themselves than with each other.”

But to what extent are these claims true? Is a grain of salt enough dosage to understand the calamities technology has caused, or are these differences between generations over exaggerated and over-seasoned?

In trying to come to a solution, we find that the answer isn’t so simple. There are many factors at play in relation to the pro-con technology debate that can be argued as both positive and negative change.

It is not enough to lump “technology” into a single, uniform category in which all of its components have the same effect – either to develop or destroy human nature. There are innumerable parts that make up the vast technological body, all possessing various levels of significance.

For example, to say that always being on your phone, computer, or iPad is detrimental to one’s imagination, creativity, or intelligence is too simple an assertion. You need to consider what people primarily do with their easy access to all kinds of information.

While there are many apps, games, and media that are much more distractive than beneficial, there also exists a plethora of information that can improve one’s imagination, creativity, and intelligence.

Marina Vujnovic, an Associate Professor in the Communication Department, believes that the online media made available to the public is generally a positive advancement, but not one without risks.

“People today consume more news than they’ve ever done in the past because of the easy access to information online,” she says.

With that being said, Vujnovic also warns, “because there is so much information out there, it is difficult to know which sources are credible,” and that she doesn’t think that “the quality of information we get today is better.” This is due to “unchecked, unbalanced information, rather noise…that stands in the way” of being informed.

Another complex tech problem is how literacy has been affected by social media and other technologies.

David Tietge, an Associate Professor in the English Department, asserted that to paint the condition of literacy today with broad strokes “is to oversimplify the effects that technology has had on language usage.”

Because mediums like Twitter and texting are indicative of how we talk rather than how we write, Teitge believes that “educators must be more diligent these days about teaching students how to recognize different discourse spaces and to respond accordingly.”

It is the responsibility of teachers to prevent poor reading habits and reduced attention spans that technology tends to foster.

So what does this all mean? Should we all be running for the salt? While the debate about technology is complicated, it is important to remember that you control the media you use, and not the other way around.

Whether or not we want to be glued to a screen is up to each of us, and by being conscious of the information we use, technology can help further our imagination, creativity, and intelligence.

Whether or not you grew up with the technology we have today, we are all versions of the same species, seeking adventure with what we have at our fingertips – dirt or screens.

IMAGE TAKEN from mediaserver.com