Written by: Shawna Chen
The hashtag #firstworldproblems categorizes problems of technological dependence. One has #firstworldproblems when he or she is frustrated because there is no Internet connection, the phone screen is frozen or there just isn’t any service for texting. On a small scale, technology can aid in productivity and work. But the unnoticed impacts of repetitive technological #firstworldproblems include increased health risks, antisocial behavior and loss of concentration and analytical thinking. Yet little action has been taken to wean ourselves off the massive cloud that is technology.
According to an article from the New York Times written in 2010, children ages eight through 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using technology. 7.5 hours is more time than a school day and about one-third of an entire day. Technology is taking over our lives.
Our increasing dependence on technology is causing inactivity and alarming effects on our health. The Department of Labor reported that the average American spends 2.7 hours a day watching television and therefore resigns to laziness. It sounds harsh, but every moment spent vegetating is an opportunity to exercise the body and brain wasted. Additionally, studies have shown that lights from devices can disturb a good night’s sleep. The more one stares at his or her iPhone, the more the light tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Without the adequate amounts of exercise and sleep, a student cannot function to the best of his or her ability.
Technological reliance has taken its toll on social life as well. Only 33 percent of the texters surveyed by the Pew Research Center said that they actually talk to friends face-to-face on a daily basis. While it can be effective for short notice, texting has caused deteriorating communication in person with family and friends.
Naturally, multitasking has also increased because of technology. Dr. Larry Rosen of Cal State University wrote that most teenagers perform, on average, seven tasks at the same time, including texting, using Facebook and watching television. Although multitasking may seem to save time, it actually results in decreased concentration. With ten tabs open on an Internet browser and a phone sitting to the side, one is more likely to forget about the homework he or she needs to finish As the number of tasks increases, focus rapidly decreases.
Most importantly, technological reliance decreases the need for critical thought. Google is just a few clicks away, and because of that, we are too frustrated to think through a problem. The Internet is a quick way to get homework done without autonomous thought. Thus, one is no longer learning the lesson, enjoying the class or getting his or her desired grade. Copying an answer from Google does not force students to actively analyze course material as they would by learning from the textbook. The consequences of such dependence have the potential to be disastrous. If one uses Google Translate instead of carefully reading through the French textbook, he or she unfortunately won’t understand the material.
Of course, no one is asking you to move to Antarctica and live like a caveman. Technology can be helpful in moderation. However, if we excessively utilize technology, the consequences will outweigh the benefits of efficiency. So the next time you move towards your TV, think about taking a walk instead. Next time you pick up your phone to text, consider holding a face-to-face conversation. Next time, choose your textbook over your laptop and resist the urge to look at your phone. It’s up to you: you can give in to the temptations or try to find a balance between moderate technology use and an otherwise healthy lifestyle.