Ricardo D.

$1,000 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship Winner - Sophomore

Modern Technology: Friend or Foe?

On a typical afternoon, I sit on the couch in front of the TV watching Harry Potter movies. I am listening to music from my iPhone through my headphones. On my laptop, I am chatting with friends through Facebook about an upcoming party. Simultaneously, I am texting another friend regarding soccer practice. Much to my mother’s annoyance, I am also reading Lord of the Flies, my summer reading assignment. This causes her much anxiety. She screams to me: “How can you concentrate with so much going on?” As my academic record can prove, I can concentrate pretty well. I belong to a technological multitasking generation and most of the older people do not seem to understand this ability. An increasing number of studies about the negative effects of technology on our generation criticize our supposed lack of social skills. Still, other reports highlight technology’s positive influence in our daily lives and social capabilities. In my opinion, the benefits of technology in our society far outweigh the disadvantages and the implementation of certain tactics can reduce these disadvantages to ensure an overall rewarding technologically oriented way of life.

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We live in a technological world. Small children see their parents use technological gadgets and by the time they are five-years-old they are technologicalexperts. Access to technology has no boundaries. People from any age, social class, educational level, profession, gender or race use technology. There is indeed a generational gap, though. Younger people use it more and are more proficient with it; while elders use it to a lesser extent (Rose, 2004). Computers, the Internet, mobile phones, portable music devices, electronic games, portable tablets and electronic readers are just some of the gadgets available and they are all changing our interactions with one another.

The evils of technology are continuously under discussion. Some studies report that excessive technological use contributes to social isolation, misery and loneliness and that nowadays people have fewer friends as a result of communicating through texts and emails, as opposed to personal communication (Affonso, 1999). Internet use has been cited for lack of community integration, work problems, lower grades, depressions, breakups and marital problems. These situations may exist, but I think they are extreme cases. Texting and emailing may have reduced face to face time, but they have not eliminated it. People still use the phone to speak to one another, still go to parties, participate in sports and lead socially active lives. In addition to the many benefits of technology – instant access to information, entertainment and music – the use of technology may also promote social interactions. A study conducted in 2009 by the Pew Research Center concluded that social networking encourages more varied acquaintances (Hampton &Goulet). People use the Internet to interact with family and friends who live close by and far away; sharing photos and personal experiences with one another. In my case, Facebook and emails have helped me keep in contact with friends from summer camps that do not live close by. If not for this technology, we would have probably not stayed in touch.

Wonders of modern technologies aside, those extreme negative cases must be addressed. Tactics should be implemented to encourage a balance between technological immersion and other healthy activities. Efforts must start at home, as the family is the backbone of society. Parents should monitor technology use, encourage family and social interaction, limit daily hours of technological exposure and, if necessary, implement other parental controls. Simple day-to-day activities should be reinforced, like sitting together as a family for dinner. Personal activities, such as team sports, artistic activities and voluntary work, must be promoted. Educators must emphasize social and communication skills training. They must also be alert for signs of depression and technology misuse and increase awareness as to the proper use of technology. In order to reduce the generational gap, younger generations must learn the importance of using technology moderately and older generations must learn to understand the benefits of technology and multitasking. The generational gap will diminish when younger generations acknowledge that different generations handle technology differently and older generations acknowledge that young people embrace new technologies in a different way.

The use of these and other tactics to address the negative aspects of modern technology would ensure a better future for all, as students, future professionals and world leaders. The consequence of these tactics wouldbalance the use of technology and other personal interactions for the benefit of society as a whole. Once this balance is achieved, a healthy lifestyle will follow. I, for example, have mastered the art of technological multitasking but I am still a sociable person. I have many friends and see them regularly.I am active in team sports and in my community through volunteer work.

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