Beware of the dangers technology brings

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Coco Kambayashi/The SPOKE

By Christina Lee, Staff Reporter

With the rise of smarter devices, our lives become more accessible, easier and more connected. But its benefits are not without a price. After every release of a new phone model or a new device entirely, thousands of people flock to nearby stores, happily surrendering their money to the greedy technology giants. Yet the three or four-digit price tags are not the only things that cost us: new technology is decreasing our attention spans and degrading our social skills.

Try to remember the last time you were able to read an entire textbook chapter without taking a single glance at your phone. Or when you reached for a book, rather than for your phone. I think it’s safe to say that for most of us, distraction-less lives ended a very long time ago. Smart devices play a key role in ruining our attention spans. In a 2018 study from De Montfort University with 630 participants, researchers found that the frustrations and experiences of digital technology have a detrimental effect on productivity and performance. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that discovery. Notice the crazy amount of time it takes to get something done? How long it takes you to read something and fully understand it? The facts are staring right at us every day at school and at home.

Smarter devices also pose a serious threat to our social skills. Now that instant messaging and social media are the preferred ways of communication, texting slangs and abbreviations have replaced solid conversation. Ofcom, a telecommunications company in UK, reported that the average person now spends more than a full day online, in hours, every week. Not only does this deprive our generation of face-to-face encounters, it also hinders our abilities to clearly articulate our thoughts. Jennifer French, a former English teacher, conducted a study in 2018 and found that the average student, ages 13-17, sends about 3,400 texts a month. Even worse, French reported that because students’ primary mode of communication is texting, “textspeak” showed up in students’ writing at school. Furthermore, due to the inherently addictive nature of smart devices, it is very difficult to fully engage in social conversations. How many times have you seen a table of people dining “together” but all on their phones at the same time?

And yet the effects of the amount of time we spend on our devices has led to symptoms similar to drug use. Findings from Michigan State University in 2019 showed a connection between heavy usage and risky decision-making, similar to those who are dependent on drugs.

With newer and smarter technologies, we need to remember to put time aside for reading books, pursuing hobbies or talking to our friends in person. Otherwise, devices may take their toll on our ability to be human, and we will become more and more a product of the technologies themselves.

Coco Kambayashi/The SPOKE