This year marks the 25th anniversary of the internet. The internet and technology have now pervaded all facets of life. It’s normal to see young people wandering around with their faces glued to their phones, not even looking where they’re going. It’s easy to see shy with over 600 million blogs, 500 million tweets sent every day, and an estimated 2.4 billion people online. While some claim that technology and the internet have made us antisocial and disconnected, sociologists such as Barry Wellman argue that “online communication – email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and so on – does not replace more conventional offline means of interaction – face-to-face and telephone.” Instead, it adds on to them, increasing the overall volume of contact.”
This has been made clear with statistics such as 33% of couples having met online. People are able to create new relationships, work, book appointments and bank transactions all from the comfort of your phone. This ease in living doesn’t come free though. It also means that the amount of information available to the public is infinite. From how to bake a cupcake to how to make a bomb; such information can be used for both good and bad. It has become common to hear in the news that someone committed a crime with information they found off of their devices. There is therefore need to look into how people, especially young people use the miracle of technology and and whether it is a positive or negative influence.
One would think that with the development and strides taken by technology, people would take advantage of it and develop their skills and abilities. Since the 1700s people have watched machines grow and change into the easy to use devices they are now. They cannot live without their microwaves, dishwashers, televisions and smartphones. Fellow students find it almost impossible to go for long periods of time without checking their phones and social media accounts. This shows the extent of dependence on these forms of technology.
Key words: technology, internet.
The paper is entitled ‘ Technology and Social Development’ and it seeks to give information on exactly that with reference to my classmates.
This paper looks into how technology and internet have affected people’s personalities and character development. It is a report on conducted research among peers trying to find out how much technology is involved in their lives and how it has affected their interaction with the world, both positively and negatively.
The problem with the increased availability of both technology and internet is that people don’t even realize how detached and desensitized its making them. People view hundreds of videos and pictures each day, some which aren’t exactly good for them. Continued viewing of these things gives individuals a misconstrued idea of the world outside their little box. Life continues to pass us by as we bury our heads into our phones and the technology we enjoy without realizing how lucky we are to enjoy it.
This paper however, mainly addresses issues with young people and how they’re affected and controlled by technology. It covers issues such as the amount of control technology has over the person, and how to reduce, but not substitute one addiction for another. It also covers how much time people tend to allocate to their specific devices and the effects of being away from them for periods of time. It will also seek to explain the long term effects of some of these technological devices on people’s social life.
The paper will outline and explain this problem of technology in the body and seek to give solutions together with recommendations on the way forward.
Body of Materials about Questions and Various Solutions
Technology has played a key role in the development of so many lives. Its available to almost everyone these days to access. With so many ways of communication, technology and internet have increased the frequency and quality of communication; allowing us to stay in touch with ur friends and families and make social plans easily. It has also allowed us to make new relationships with people we could never have met in real life, people with the same interests in music, food, and many more.
Some technological advances, however, cause people to be stressed, increasingly isolated and distracted. Many people have friends through technologies such as social media, but the quality of these relationships and associations is questionable which leaves people feeling empty the moment they log off their screens. This therefore puts forward the question of what technology has made socialization to mean.
These changes in socialization mean that society will have to undergo a social revolution, which will redefine socially appropriate and acceptable behaviors with regards to digital and technological adavances. As a civilization, we are at a point where people have not given much thought to the he social realities that have been created by technology and what they mean for the individual and society. Take, for example, the development of whole careers because of social media sites such as YouYube and Vine. People’s lives revolve around their phones and social sites. 85% of undergraduates use social networking sites daily. (Salaway 2008). It is not uncommon to walk around campus and find heads bent down scrolling through their phones, or taking videos of everything around, regardless of whether they’re good or bad. Recent trends have seen people taking videos of anything just to get the attention they need on social media. People have hurt themselves intentionally just so that they can get that like or retweet or share. There have been cases of people recording vile actions such as rape, assault and more just so they can share and get the publicity they need. People have become desensitized to their moral obligations and what is right and wrong.
Social media’s influence over the generations cannot be denied. Whole crimes have come from the influence social media has on people. Cases of cyber stalking, cyber bullying and cyber trolling have risen to immense levels. Bullying has shifted from just physical to include cyber bullying. Young people just cannot differentiate their real lives and their digital lives. Many young people have committed suicide because of unsavoury information and pictures being shared about them. We have desensitized an entire generation which explains the call for a social revolution as stated earlier. We need to redefine societal expectations with regards to technological developments and change the way people use it. The image below shows how undergraduate students use social networking sites. We shall seek to critically understand whether the trend is positive or negative.
Figure 1. (Salaway 2008)
This chart clearly shows that a majority of people use social media and the technology mainly for communication with friends, while professional reasons are low on the chart. The case is not any different among my peers. Technology is mainly used for communication purposes ; with apps cropping up each day promising better or faster communication. However, one doesn’t need to look far to find the problems associated with these sites. You’d think that this ease in communication would change how people relate with each other but as stated earlier, the vices related to technological advances are too many to ignore. Internet addiction has also become rampant and a major issue in today’s society. Majority of the students surveyed admitted to being addicted to their phones. One of the major issues steming from these sites is narcissism; an excessive interest in one’s appearance and in oneself. These Web sites have been found to be an avenue for people to display their narcissistic traits online (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008). Applications that have been developed further these problems such as Snapchat and Instagram which are just basically online photo books. People have become so obsessed with how they look and showing it to the world that nothing else matters. This means that disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have increased. There has also been a notable increase in things like plastic surgery because these sites promote a different idea of what society expects and what beauty is. This has drastic and deadly results on the recipient.
The older generation, for whom technology has found when they were much older, seem to grasp the purpose of technology even better than young people. The surveyed senior citizens only used technology to email for business and maybe one or two social media sites to keep in touch with their family and friends such as Skype and Facebook. They did, however, find it a waste of time to go online just to view other people; if it doesn’t serve a purpose what’s the point?
Perhaps the major appeal of technology is how it helps in overcoming isolation. One might not fit in with their community in real life, but online they can be someone different and meet people with similar interests to interact with. Someone who is trying to pursue their photography career can share photos and get feedback to improve on their skill.
Technological advances have ensured that the strides taken in gaming are huge. The influence that gaming has had on young people is obvious. While it sometimes has negative influences on people, there are also some positive social influences especially on families when they game together. People are able to meet other people with similar interests in gaming sites and form actual friendships from this. The 13th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card (Walsh & Gentile, 2008) indicated that 75 percent of gamers play with other people.
Regardless of this however, technology has developed to a point where they are able to develop almost life like games which depict death, shootings, and other ways of killing. Time spent on these games has a direct effect on an individual. They become desensitized to death and killing and minimize the time they spend outside with fellow humans doing constructive activities. Gaming is definitely something that people need to take control over as it has been known to cause people to waste the best years of their lives stuck in front of a screen.
This is a form of technology that has mixed reviews with regards to social skill development. While some researchers suggest that spending a specific amount of time watching educational programs can strengthen families and friendships, others believe that it contributes to the social rot in this country. People spend less time interacting with others to watch television.
Exposure to what is seen on television can have serious effects on people’s social lives. For example, exposure to shows with sexual content increases the chance of teen pregnancy (Chandra, 2008). When some people see violence, sex and all these vices on TV they seem to think that it is acceptable and mimic the behaviour. There have been cases where killers have mimicked a certain character in a movie they’ve watched on TV.
Conclusions and Recommendations
It is evident that technology has played a major role in the development of social skills for this generation and the ones following. If the society doesn’t change the old ways of doing things and begin to take into consideration this technology, the vices stated above will continue to plague us. Technology is a great thing and should be used only for that. A few recommendations to my fellow classmates and partakers of technology include:
Social media is not everything. Pegging one’s life to how others perceive you virtually is an injustice to oneself. People should focus more on physical social interactions and learn to be around people rather than hide behind screens.
People should take care of the information they have access to. If it bothers you, imagine how someone younger will feel. Certain videos and pictures should be flagged to avoid younger people viewing them.
People should avoid the amount of time they spend on their phones and televisions and instead do other physical activities.
People should avoid sharing inappropriate or disturbing videos. Place yourself in the person’s shoes, would you want to be seen and mocked at your most vulnerable?
People should avoid sharing every detail of their lives especially their locations. This is what leads to stalking and even worse crimes.
People should block and avoid cyber bullies and trolls who only pry on your imperfections to make you feel worse. Block the person and report their account.
With these few recommendations I hope your experience with technology improves and is limited to only positive things.
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The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and. Information Technology, 2008. Judith Borreson Caruso and Gail Salaway.
Anderson, C.A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, R.L., Johnson, J., Linz, D., Malamuth, N., & Wartella, E. (2003).
Baccus, J. R., Baldwin, M. W., & Packer, D. J. (2004).
Buffardi, L. E., & Campbell, W. K. (2008).
Gentile, D. A. & Gentile, J. R. (2008).
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L, & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.) (1999).
Dill, K. E., Gentile, D. A., Richter, W. A., & Dill, J. C. (2005).
Kubey, R. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002, February).
The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and. Information Technology, 2008. Judith Borreson Caruso and Gail Salaway.