Hitting the Pause Button

Technology redefining growing up, childhood

February 7, 2018

What did you do to pass time when you were younger?

Play board games, color or even climb a tree?

The answer changes with every generation, and for the current youth, it’s all based on technology.

Technology has been evolving faster than society can keep up, and the effects of this are more than just improved communications. From homes to schools, today’s society has created a new influence that the next generation can look up to; the world of telecommunications.

The goal of scientists to apply knowledge to create things for practical purposes has been improving society immensely. With new groundbreaking technology being released every year, and no sign of declining expansion, the limits of the upcoming generation are immeasurable. However, with all good things comes negative externalities.

As technology developed it transformed from a machine to help with everyday life, to a machine that you need for everyday life. Children today are being now being raised with a dependence on technology and a lack of real-world wisdom.

In a Neilson report released in February 2017, about 45 percent of US children had a working smartphone at the age of 10.5. Even before the smartphone; gaming systems, tablets, and TVs are prominent in nearly 78 percent of all homes with children. It has become easier to distract children instead of engaging with them, which has led to technology becoming a larger influence than parents.

“With my busy lifestyle,” Christy Naylor, mother of two said. “I found it easier to give them my phone to distract them. They really liked playing games on my phone so eventually I got them devices of their own.”

By giving a child a device that can hold their attention for hours at a time, they begin to spend more time with a virtual reality rather than with reality itself. As they mature, they may become more knowledgeable than previous generations due to the opportunities technology gives them. However, it also creates a new generation with a lack of communication skills, short attention spans, competition, and raised expectations.

Today there are many genres of technology that define our way of living. Google used to get the answer you need, in 0.000987 seconds. Video games, the controversial violent influence. Texting, using a middle man to communicate. Finally, social media, the constant battle for approval of others.

In a society without paperback dictionaries, the accessibility of information has led children to a new way of expecting things. With the development of the World Wide Web it has created an easy way to access information in fractions of a second. When constantly receiving instant results, patience becomes less of a virtue in youth today.

“As children become accustomed to getting immediate results all the time, it not only gives them a lack of patience,” said Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Britt Bowers, Ph.D in Psychology. “But also leads to the degradation of their attention span.”

Google has also opened up a whole new world of information that most parents don’t think their children should be exposed to at a young age. In the darkness of the internet, you can find pornography, black markets, fake news, and many other things that could potentially scar a young child’s mind.

By giving children the ability to explore the internet’s possibilities, it may increase their knowledge, but growing up ‘too fast’ is also a large problem in society today. By giving them full range they are able to find out whatever they want, or even more. The lack of boundaries has led to the rebellious generation to come, given by the lack of discipline in the internet.

Next on the list, video games. There are many controversial debates on whether video game violence has led to youth violence, regardless, it has become a source of addiction for 41% of those who play them. Video games are a place of escape for many, to discover and recreate a new life that is better than their own, and they begin to like it more than their own. When ‘gamers’ begin to plug into the virtual world and disconnect from reality, they also become anti-social with those around them.

4th grader, Parker Williams, spoke about his reaction to when people hate on video games.

“Video games are fun. I don’t really have a lot of things to do so I play video games.” said Fourth-grader Parker Williams.

Parker plays video games for five hours a day.

Addiction to video games is unhealthy. Along with decreased social skills, scientists have also seen several other negative effects.

With the most popular video games across America being flooded with violent situations, it has led to the desensitization of the youth today. Even if this has led to more violent behavior, the overall effect that these games have on them has also led them to many violent and explicit things at a young age that past generations weren’t exposed to. On top of this, according to the science daily, those who are addicted to video games most often have a poor performance in school.

Due to the decreased attention spans, and their values consisting of the virtual reality, the need for excelling in academics decreases. With all addictions, there is also a negative impact on the addict’s health. When children and teens are spending hours at a time posted in their room playing video games, the necessity for physical activity diminishes. This could lead to fatigue, obesity, and future health risks.

Texting is an innovation for quick communication and a lack of accountability. There are around 13 trillion text messages sent each day. On the bright side, the ability to have a conversation with someone across the country without the burden of talking over the phone has created a new world of communication. However, the purpose of texting has been abused.

“Texting allows for the fear of confrontation to belittle. By using a middle man to communicate, people have less accountability for what they say.” Greg Black, a 25-year-old sociology major at Purdue said. “They are able to say things they wouldn’t in face to face conversations.”

By allowing people to avoid awkward conversations in person, it also leads to a lack of understanding of how to deal with conversations as a whole. The youth today now uses texting as the preferable communication over all other sources. At times, even in contact conversations. By having a lack of face-to-face interactions, adolescence is beginning to have a lack of conversation skills at all.

“Almost all of the youth I talk to have no conversation skills once over.” Black said, “They don’t know what to talk about nor do they know how to respond”

In 1997, the first social media website, Six Degrees, was founded. By allowing users to post on their profiles information about themselves, and further follow others to find out information about them, it created a new world of what would further define society today.

“How many likes did your post get?”

“How many followers do you have?”

“Did anyone retweet it?”

All of these questions, and more, are definitive on whether or not your ‘socially acceptable’ in today’s world. By creating a website where users have a passion for fame, it begins to influence more than just the ‘posts’ they’re creating.

“I started to get consumed by the need for more. More followers, more likes, more comments. It was like that began to define my popularity,” Senior Alyssa Roberts said, “So it also started influencing how I saw myself.”

Alyssa has around 2000 Instagram followers.

The way social media is designed is to be about as habit forming as cocaine, which explains everyone’s obsession. This addictive side of social media is all due to FOMO, the fear of missing out. Not only are people on social media because everyone else is on there, but the way they design the apps make them impossible to resist.

One way developers do this: notification numbers. Whenever a person follows, likes, comments, or interacts with one’s profile a small number appears next to the app icon. By doing this, many people have the need to know what the interaction is, which intrigues them to the app.  By using these different psychological tools to know how people react to certain stimuli on social media, the developers have a tool to keep their websites popular. For as long as they want.

Again, with every addiction comes the negative effects on the brain, and the body. Social media is full of billions of users, all posting the ‘highlights’ of their life. When scrolling through one’s timeline, many may begin to feel jealous and envious due to comparing lifestyles. As people begin to compare themselves to everyone else, it also creates a sense of insecurity and sadness, which is the foundation for depressive illnesses.

“I see the negative effects of social media with almost every age group.” Bowers said, “It’s unreal the way people begin to think about themselves when comparing themselves to others. With social media you only allow others to see what you want them to see, which includes only the highlights of your life.”

Overall, social media creates a virtual world of what one should aspire to be. By constantly seeing posts about others Friday nights out, their new job, or an occasional selfie, the jealousy becomes unfathomable.

By creating a world based on popularity and how ‘cool’ or ‘attractive’ you are society becomes caught up with the values they should have and the confidence they have with their own reality. Instead of experiencing things, people begin to do things for the gratification of attention from others.

Technology is defined as putting forth scientific knowledge to create something that is practical, and helps create a simpler everyday life. The goal for a more practical living has been met, even exceeded. The negative externalities, however, are beginning to become clear. Today’s youth is a technology dependent society, swarming with depression, attention disorders, and a no communication skills. The only question to be asked at this point is; what happens when everything turns off?


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