My generation has grown up during an extremely fascinating time period in regards to technological advances. As a young child, I did not have the slightest desire to play on the computer, play video games, or use any other forms of electronic devices. My free-time was consumed with playing outside, playing with my Barbies, or playing sports. However, as my friends and I grew older, the introduction of new technologies at affordable prices meant that every house was beginning to have computers, cell phones, and video game systems. Personally, I did not get a laptop or a cell phone until my first year of university. It was always so interesting for me to hear my friends rant about how their mom took their laptop away from them for the night, or how they accidentally forgot their phone at home that day, which apparently seemed like the end of the world to them. Now that I have had a cell phone for a few years and use my laptop on a daily basis for school work and in my free-time, I can relate to the need to be with my technological devices at all times.
The Bright Side of Technology
Technology has progressed our society to levels unimaginable a few decades ago. Advancements in computers, gaming, and cell phones have allowed us to communicate almost instantaneously, regardless of the distance between two people. Technology has allowed us to be more efficient on the job as well, benefiting us in our search for knowledge and sharing of information. However, there are many drawbacks related to humans’ excessive use of technology that have the potential to turn into obsessions and dependencies with technology.
We have now hit an even more alarming time period in our lives, as we are more dependent on technology than ever before. According to a study conducted by the Pew Internet Project, the overall average of text messages sent and/or received per day is 42. However, if you look at the 18-24 age group specifically, these people average 110 text messages per day. This averages out to one text message every 13 minutes! This is an extremely alarming number if you think of all the other tasks an individual must fit into their day. Our cell phones have become like an additional appendage for some people. At the same time, a study covered by the New York Times reported that adults are exposed to 8.5 hours of screen time on any given day. This is extremely alarming if you think about the fact that we are probably getting more screen time than sleep on any given day. Even if we wanted to find solitude away from our computers, it would be next to impossible to do so. Many jobs and education programs require individuals to be in front of a computer for hours on end in order to complete assignments, check emails, etc.
Humans’ use of and dependence on technology can spiral so far out of control that individuals seek expert help to separate themselves from their technological devices. An example of a rehabilitation centre that focuses on helping people who are addicted to technology is reSTART. ReSTART claims that their mission is to assist participants using an abstinence-based recovery program to break the cycle of dependency that people have with the internet and computers. ReSTART’s website even has an internet addiction test that you can take on their website to see if you qualify as someone who suffers from a technology addiction. The fact that our society has come to the point where people need rehab to get rid of their technology dependencies speaks for itself, as the internet and other forms of technology have become a form of drug in the minds of some people. However, the medical community has not reached an agreement on whether or not humans can become addicted to technology. Some doctors are against the idea that our bodies can grow to be dependent on computers or technology in the same way they can become dependent on drugs.
The health implications of our inability to separate outselves from technology are worrisome and alarming. The most obvious health impact is the lack of physical activity that comes with computer use. Similar to the health impacts that result from watching too much television, living a sedentary lifestyle in front of your computer can lead to weight gain and future health problems. But with further analysis, there are other health impairments that can result from sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. Some of these impacts include eye disease, posture issues relating to the spine, and hand/wrist strain. Beyond physical health impairments, studies are beginning to show that the over-use of technology is having detrimental impacts on our social skills as well. All age groups are experiencing less face-to-face conversations, which can hinder the development of social skills in people whose skills have yet to fully develop. While technology has allowed us to communicate with people with ease through cellphones, instant messaging, or emails, it is also reinforces the fact that we no longer have to communicate with others in person.
To answer my original question, is complete isolation from technology possible, I honestly do not think it is. Our society has grown to be so dependent on technology that I do not think we will ever be able to reverse the effects. The topic of human dependence on technology has led me to create a test of my own: I challenged myself to not use my laptop or cell phone for one whole day, and I must say it was extremely hard to accomplish this. I can confidently say I succeeded… not to say that I would ever want to voluntarily do that again. It is a sad reality that it took an enormous amount of self-control to successfully complete this challenge. Our generation needs some sort of reality check to understand that our dependence on technology is increasing at an alarming rate, and it can have dangerous effects on our lives. It will be interesting to observe future generations and monitor their technology use habits compared to our generation’s current use. Sadly, I fear that future generations will be even worse off.