In a technologically dictated world, we, as humans, are simply checkers manipulated on a board. Modern technology grasps us in the tips of its fingers and, masterfully, dictates each and every move in our game of life.
Given technology’s overbearing presence, it is impossible to walk down the street without observing everyone around you engulfed in a virtual world, fingers rapidly clicking, eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, yet completely unaware of their physical surroundings.
We, now, coexist with technology as it “reprograms” us, day by day. The overwhelming presence of technology significantly hinders the mental development of modern youth.
In a learning environment, the presence of technology causes an inability to both form personalized thought and concentrate.
Schools, once a hub for the development of knowledge, formation of social relationships, and platform for future success are now infiltrated with handheld distractions that, unapologetically, drift concentration.
In a recent study conducted by Austin researchers, it was found that “cognitive capacity and overall brain power are significantly reduced when your smartphone is within glancing distance-even if it’s turned off and face down” (Pixabay).
Furthermore, researchers concluded that “someone’s ability to hold and process data significantly improved if his or her smartphone was in another room while taking a test to gauge attentional control” (Pixabay).
Not only has technology grown to occupy our lives physically, but its addictive presence alters our performance mentally, as well. Because we are unable to turn off our devices and “turn on” our brains, we are losing a great opportunity for personal growth and area of intellectual enrichment.
“Staying connected” supersedes “staying educated,” though education is an essential component to life that propels and prepares adolescents into adulthood and technology is an inessential pastime, sending concentration wayward.
It is important to understand that, reading printed texts allow us to “make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, and foster our own ideas” illustrating that “deep reading is indistinguishable from deep thinking” (Carr 355).
While people of the past spent days searching for answers to problems, children today have such answers at their disposal as the “click of a button” provides answers to any question imaginable. Taking this “easy way out” is degrading our mental capacity, setting our adolescents up for failure, and reducing our ability to solve real-world problems.
Even though many of us engage in technology for fun, a huge problem lies in the fact that gamers are unable to separate reality from virtual reality. Violent gaming alters children’s perceptions causing them to execute actions in reality that they would not otherwise carry out. An example of this is evident in present Russia where a gaming craze, by the name of “Blue Whale,” resulted in the suicide of two avid gamers.
The game details a gruesome adventure where your character commits suicide as a sign of achievement (Barnes). Barnes states that “there was deep concern last year when there were fears that the sinister masterminds could be behind at least 130 suicides across Russia.”
The game has children thinking and believing that suicide is the answer because it helps you “win,” though, in reality, this is never the answer. Given Carr’s evidence that “nerve cells are always breaking and forming new bonds,” it is essential, especially in regards to the development of youth, to build such bonds with positive, beneficial ideals.
Given that video games attract young audiences, it is important to ensure that we are not brainwashing our children with negative morals. A real-world example occurred over the summer when I worked at a summer camp for children with disabilities.
I bonded, especially, with a child with a mental/emotional disability. In his outbreaks, he would reenact scenes present in the game such as barricading doors to prohibit people from entering, repeating vulgar comments, and physically attacking others.
Later, I found out that, at home, he frequently plays violent video games. The connection between violent gaming and violent tendencies in reality go hand-in-hand.
While social media platforms keep us connected and captivate our attention, cyberbullying as a result of technology increases suicide, anxiety, and depression rates. According to a recent study done by Swansea University, researchers found that “children and young people under 25 who are victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to self-harm and enact suicidal behavior.”
In addition, new statistics from the Center for Disease Control display that “suicide rates for boys aged 15 to 19 have increased more than 30 percent” and those of “teenage females are at a 40-year high.”
If one were to physically graph, over time, the prevalence of technology in society on the x-axis and cyber-related issues on the y-axis, the correlation would display a steady incline.
Bullying as a result of technology is higher now than ever before. Possibly the most frightening statistic lies in that of electronic-using teens for more than a few hours a day are at a higher risk for suicide given that the “negative repercussions of cyberbullying heighten an “individual’s sense of isolation and lead to feelings of hopelessness” (Swansea).
The constant desire to be “connected” deems us much less likely to engage in face-to-face interactions with our peers, thus deteriorating our social-emotional skills and essential to our overall well-being.
Much of the human brain fuels off social-emotional relationships that humans form with those that we encounter in our everyday lives; however, electronics are dragging us away from our peers and isolating us from society. Much more teens, today, admit to depressive and suicidal thoughts than a short five years ago (Duncan).
As a matter of fact, in the recent suicide of twelve-year-old Gabriella Green (a victim of gruesome cyberstalking/cyberbullying by her peers), the officer proclaimed the cause of her death to be a result of “mental distress” (Lynch).
The detriment advancements in technology have on our youth is undeniable. Technology’s ability to debilitate normal mental functions as well as chronically inflict negative feelings of self-worth significantly incapacitate the brain’s ability to guide us towards a healthy lifestyle.
Hindering the cognitive development of our youth, technology has a predominantly negative effect on modern society. Interaction with virtual realities of any nature significantly alter children’s perceptions of life in the real world.
The presence of technology causes children to “hide behind screens,” thus, prohibiting them from forming healthy relationships with themselves and with others, leading to depressive thoughts and irreversible actions.
Because of the distraction of technology, children miss out on critical life skills essential to success in the workplace as well as undermine the value of education.
Technology will continue to control us if we cannot, collectively, find a way to control it. It is important for our growing population to value human interaction, find our passions, and build our lives around them, without caving in to distractions. Generations and generations of people in society thrived without technology; we can, too.
Works Cited :
- Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid? Psychology Today, Pixabay, 25 June 2017.
- Barnes, Luke. “Police Warn Parents over Blue Whale ‘Suicide Game‘.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 10 Mar. 2017
- Duncan, Jericka. “Smartphones, Cyberbullying Seen as Possible Causes of Rising Teen Suicide Rate.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 4 Aug. 2017
- Lynch, Jamiel. “Police Charge Two Students in Suicide of Classmate, 12.” CNN, Cable News Network, 24 Jan. 2018
- Swansea University. “Young victims of cyberbullying twice as likely to attempt suicide and self- harm, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2018.