How Does Technology Affect You?

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Imagine when you woke up this morning: did your phone ringer wake you? Or how about the last class you had; did you run through a PowerPoint? Find the answers to a worksheet on one of CHS’ iBooks? Technology is changing the landscape of daily interactions and routines, sometimes for the worse.

Recently a study was conducted on this very topic. The Council for Research Excellence (CRE), a group established by the Nielsen Global Information Company and Ball State’s Center for Media Design, recently finished a study which looked into how much time each American spends in front of a screen on a daily basis. The CRE concluded that adults spend an average of 8.5 hours a day looking at screens. Text messaging, video games, and GPS’s are just a handful of the 17 media categories taken into account during this nearly three year study.

For a lot of us, 8.5 hours is over half of our day. Although the majority of this technology is used while multi-tasking, like texting a friend in class or typing a paper and watching television at the same time, recent studies have shown that even these seemingly normal behaviors are unhealthy. According to CNN, multi-taskers retain the useless, rather than pertinent, information and are more easily distracted while performing everyday tasks. So instead of allowing us to be more productive, the way we use technology, in the long run, often inhibits our productivity.

Even if our multi-tasking is well-meant it is always at the cost of something else. Technology makes it easy to maintain our connections with people thousands of miles away, but it also makes it easy to lose a connection with the person sitting next to you. Whenever you eat dinner with your family in front of the TV or ride in the car with your headphones on, you are not truly engaging with other people.

The oasis technology provides us from the world and one another is, at times, a good thing. It allows us to relax, and not worry about conversation, but recently, doctors at the University of Washington found that for toddlers, the first generation to grow up in our new screen-centered culture, this lack of personal interaction is detrimental. For every hour a toddler watches TV, they exchange 770 fewer words with their parents than they would otherwise. As a result their social and linguistic developments suffer. Rather than always furthering society, technology is beginning to hold us back. At 8.5 hours of screen time a day from year one, it is possible that the next generation could be blubbering and awkward.

But we won’t have to wait for those toddlers to grow up to see the effects. At CHS alone, we have three computer rooms and three laptop carts. Our library is hardly ever quiet anymore, with everyone talking around the computers. Teachers routinely threaten to take away cell phones in class and students are constantly following PowerPoints online, rather than talking about the subject in class.

Of course, The Communicator would not be possible without the design programs on CHS’ computers and it would have taken hours of searching to find the studies cited in this article without the Internet. So no, technology is not all bad. The Internet allows us to sit at home, type a subject into a search engine and become virtual experts within minutes. Cell phones make it possible to locate anyone from anywhere and some would call a GPS a godsend. But we often don’t use these things in moderation; the U.S has a culture of excess. Too much food, too many things, and now too much technology.

Technology is a powerful tool which can do so much good – it just depends on how we use it. We can’t become so absorbed in technology that we forget about the world around us. Turn off your phone and don’t text a friend while one is sitting across from you. Talk to your dad in the car instead of listening to music. Let’s start to interact again.