Is Technology Disconnecting Us?

Allison Kessel, Contributor

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Modern technology makes a huge difference in people’s lives, but does it affect our ability to communicate face to face daily?

The first iPhone was introduced on June 29, 2007.  Since then, people have become extremely tethered to this technology.  Now 95% of teens in the United States have smartphones. That is a 20% increase since 2015. Doctors and other experts worry that phones, tablets, and other devices are affecting our cognitive development and social skills.

Most people communicate today through Messenger,  Facebook, Instagram, FaceTime, and other social media apps. Instead of talking face to face, everyone uses text and other forms of written communication. When people fail to use verbal communication, they lose context, tone, facial expressions, and body language that are cues to the true meaning of the message. This allows frequent misunderstandings, anonymous bullying, while also dehumanizing interactions. Talking has been reduced to sending a simple chat on snapchat and other social media platforms. In extreme examples, people sit right next to each other on a bench and stare down at their screens, ignoring the people around them.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that more than half of all teenagers think they use their phones too much. Two-thirds of parents also agree that teens use their phones too much.  Many times the phone usage starts as soon as people wake up and continues throughout the day. This can be very disruptive to normal activities. A quarter of teens report feeling significant loneliness and anxiety associated with their phones.  Some people even sleep with their phones which can be problematic for normal sleep.

Besides social media apps, people rely on their phones for simple math and spelling.  Others become involved in nonsensical and violent games. There are companies that even employ people to specifically create more addictive video games.  All of this leads to more and more screen time and phone addiction. People spend hours on mindless entertainment which degrades our ability to think for ourselves. As our technology increases and companies start to come out with more and more addictive technology, we become less intelligent and creative by letting these devices think for us.

To combat these problems, some companies have developed apps that will cut down on everyone’s screen time. Now, more than half of parents are resorting to restricting their teens’ phone usage.  Teens themselves have recognized the problem, and they are voluntarily cutting back on screen time.

Overall, my opinion on phones and other devices is very low.  Personally, I think these apps will help everyone detach from their phones and start interacting with everyone again.  People use their phones and other devices way too much. They are getting too addicted to the new technology, and it is ruining their social development and creative thinking. Society needs to take a break from this addiction and connect in real time with friends and family before they lose the most valuable connection, each other.



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