Caution!

January 29, 2010
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Last year, my friend, Meaghan was harassed online. A girl she had met at summer camp had made an alternate Myspace account and pretended to be a boy from a local high school. She continuously contacted Meaghan and tried to have an online relationship with her. At first, it was all fun and games, but then the girl got deeper. She asked for nude pictures and prodded into her home life. Whenever Meaghan tried to end it, the girl would threaten and bully her. Eventually, the police had to get involved and Meaghan cancelled her account altogether. Obviously, the Internet can make you comfortable or more at ease while communication, but modern technology has many dangers. While the Net, IPods, and cell phones can be useful and fun, the consequences (isolation, depression, predators, etc.) are much more significant.

Despite the cons, the debate about whether or not new technology improves social skills is still present. Many believe technology is causing individuals in society to become isolated. According to “The Impact of Internet Use on Sociability,” frequent Internet users’ social activities, religious groups, time spent with family and friends are astonishingly lower than those who don’t use the Internet. San excerpt from “Negative Effects on Society,” by Krystle Song says, “Interaction between individuals is slowly diminishing as people turn to their technological devices instead of attempting to make a new acquaintance or simply experience the “natural” sights and sounds around them” (1). I think of IPods as being a method to escape. Because of this, they make it very hard to communicate with someone if that person is listening to music. Just imagine, your favorite song is on, your foot’s tapping. And just when you get to the best part of the song, that amazing drum solo, the women next to you, taps you on the shoulder. Now why would you want to have a lousy conversation with the lady that just interrupted your jam? People feel in their own little world when those headphones go in. Some may like it, but the person trying to talk to you sure doesn’t.
Another disadvantage of modern technological devices is that you don’t get the “real” experience while using them. By learning on the computer or by a computer disk, you can’t learn the same skills, much less, the morals that you would from learning in a proper classroom. Mr. Neil Postman says, “We have evidence that it takes many years of teaching these values in school before they have been accepted and internalized. That is why it won’t do for children to learn in “settings of their own choosing” (1). This quote explains how a lack of hands-on learning or experiencing classroom life can negatively influence your manners and behavior. Children won’t learn how to exhibit patience, follow rules and regulations, or interact properly with other children.

Modern technology even affects our health and stability. Research has proven that many people can catch “technology addiction.” While some may find a cocaine-like rush when using the Net, others can be subject to feeling lost or sad when not using technology. According to Bob Affonso, “Internet use leads to small but statistically significant increases in misery and loneliness and a decline in overall psychological well being…. [Internet users reported] experiencing more daily stress, and feeling more lonely and depressed” (1). Due to the lack of face-to- face interaction, I believe that personal happiness can decrease. People can’t truly experience emotions from others while talking to a computer or cell phone screen. You can’t see facial expressions, detect mood changes, or experience touch.
Many believers in technology say that “individuals use a personal technology and make it a social event” (Harris 2). But, how many people are willing to actually do that? In the past, my brother has tried to set up “gaming parties” with his friends. He knows how hard it is to spend time with friends while engaging in the Internet or a video game. Not to mention the time and technological savvy required putting together such an event.

Also, many argue that texting and online chatting provides a comfortable environment to build relationships. “Internet can even provide opportunities by freeing those who are to depressed to conduct social life in the real world” (Coget and Yakata 3). I believe this is circular logic. Coget and Yakata say that it can help mend depression while the facts prove that most depression is an effect of the Internet. Even though this source of communication can be comfortable, can’t it get too comfortable? There is a fine line between comfort and addiction. Some people believe that texting and Internet can be their only way to communicate. They rely with these devices so much that face-to-face becomes a fantasy. Also, unsafe relationships can arise. Technology makes predators and stalkers’ jobs so easy. What better way to find personal information then a teenagers Facebook profile? This single website can provide someone’s age, school, address, and phone number. By Internet, private information is so much more accessible.
Technology can even be categorized as a distraction! In an article found in Seventeen Magazine, written by Jessica Press, a young girl discussed how texting changed her life forever. “In the time it took for me to get through half my message, I’d crossed from the right-hand lane and was flying onto the median- which sloped into a ditch!” This story showed how even though texting and communicating through technology could be helpful and handy, it also provides a huge distraction. No one can be fully focused on the task at hand while their fingers are clicking away.

Due to the negative things technology can do to your social life, I believe it is harmful and shouldn’t be a necessity. Technology can hurt people in so many ways. One’s socializing can decrease as well as their stability and even personal safety. These devices are distractions and read “don’t bother me, I’m busy.”





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