Like any new innovation, there are pros and cons. Depending on how it’s used it can be extremely helpful or very harmful. Let’s take a look back just a couple of generations to see how technology has evolved exponentially. Do you remember rotary landline phones, televisions without remotes and only three local channels, leaded fuel for vehicles, newspapers being delivered to practically every household, to name just a few? Now, how many people do you know who still have landlines or newspapers delivered? Most people get their news on-line, from the TV, radio or an app on their cell phones. We have a multitude of ways to receive a million and one television channels. We now have unleaded gas and electric cars.
Much of new technology is a huge improvement. However, as an observer I do have concerns. Many people are becoming addicted to technology. Next time you go to a restaurant look around. You’ll most likely see a family or group of friends at a table all looking at their cell phones. They are not talking to each other. They are all in a different place while sitting in the same place. How often do you see a toddler in a shopping carriage playing with a cell phone? Has the cell phone become an electronic pacifier? We are losing connections with each other.
About 20 years ago, I remember Joe Lieberman sounding an alarm about the video games our youth and adults were playing. He had concerns about the violence to which our youth were exposed. Now these so-called games are even more realistic. Are these violent games the genesis for many of the tragic and horrific acts currently happening? Are we as a society becoming desensitized to violence?
How many times have you been going down the highway and noticed the driver in the car passing you at great speed, looking at their cell phone instead of the road. How dangerous have our highways and local roads become?
There was a recent segment on “60 Minutes” about social media and the detrimental effects on our youth and society as a whole. Prior to social media, if a child was being bullied at school, they could at least go home to escape the bullying. Now with social media there is no escape and young people are having a difficult time dealing with this. There are increased rates of anxiety, depression and body image issues. Parents may think they have sufficient controls on their child’s device only to find out that the child has learned how to bypass all controls. Today, groups of young college students and adults are calling for social media companies to be held accountable and are pushing for social media regulation for teen users. Technology needs to be a service to society rather than a risk to its users.
We have all become accustomed to the convenience and quickness of technology, but is it at the expense of losing all those simple traditions? What used to be the norm is now the exception. It warms my heart and brings me back to my childhood to see a group of kids playing outside, riding bikes, playing board games, reading books or helping with chores. Recently, my cousin, who I was very close to as a youngster, stopped by my house for a visit. We talked and reminisced for a few hours. What a warm feeling it gave me to be with him again and remembering all those times of fun and games.
Let’s all be more aware of the content we access and the amount of time we and our children spend on electronic devices. Take this extra time to go outside and play or go visit a family member or friend. It’s good for the soul.