Is All This Technology Really Making Us Smarter?
Everyone I know, really loves their cell phones. Cell phones are extremely important. We all feel a little more at peace when our teens go out and we know we can easily reach them or vice versa. Phones have been used to record ongoing events that have shed light on difficult police cases. With Facebook, people have reconnected with long lost friends and even family members. There’ve been numerous cases of people reaching out to others on Facebook who were extremely depressed and planning to take their own lives and contact made a positive impact. Businesses have grown because of Facebook and Twitter and people learn so much from Pinterest. We recently learned how people can be mobilized for a great movement when we saw the massive numbers of people that showed up for the Women’s March, all over the world. On the surface, it appears there is such a great advantage to having all the latest technology, but is it really making us smarter or are we losing something with our dependence?
1. Lack of Social Interaction
One of the biggest and saddest realities of the era of smart phones is how our teens are growing up not knowing how to interact with people in real life. Meet a group of teens sitting together and what are they doing, they are all on their phones on snapchat or Facebook etc. We sometimes go in to see patients and the parents are on the phone playing a game and they don’t want to put the phone down to be fully present with their own children. It’s even worse when the sick child will not take their eyes off the phone long enough to even say hi, and the parent thinks that behavior is appropriate. Parents are giving IPADs and Smart phones to their infants and toddlers and using them as babysitters, rather than interacting with their children. I just heard on NPR, that Steve Jobs the creator of the IPAD was asked once about what his kids thought of the IPAD. His response was “They don’t have IPADS. It’s not allowed in our home.” I shudder to think of the kind of society we will have in the next ten years, where we don’t even have simple communication skills because our heads have been buried in smart phones and the latest technology.
2. Too Much Information
We all enjoy the videos of little kids and all the interesting things they do on Social media. And of course teens also like their friends to keep up with their lives, so they are regularly posting pictures and snapchats of themselves at their various activities. When is it too much? Sometimes I feel that some teens’ self-esteem can be adversely impacted when they don’t receive “the likes” they expected or when people criticize their posts. Teens have recorded themselves in criminal activities which have landed them in jail (of course this was good for society as a whole) and some teens and young adults have put pictures of themselves in such compromising positions that it has adversely affected their college enrolment or even their job prospects. When does the information our teens put out about themselves become too much. Is the ease of all this technology costing some people their self-esteem and making others narcissistic?
3. Lack of Parental Supervision
Teens love to spend time in their rooms, on their cell phones and computers. When there is lack of parental supervision, it is basically akin to leaving your child on an expressway and expecting them to make their way back home unsupervised. Unfortunately, there are “bad people” out there ready to lure teens into all kinds of schemes. Teens have been led into prostitution and been molested because “they fell in love” with the wrong people on the internet. Things can get pretty dangerous out there if teens are not supervised on their phones. Parents have been shocked to find out their sweet teen was the neighborhood bully. Sadly, enough some parents have even bullied teens on the internet, leading to dire consequences.
All the latest technology does have a place in society. As noted above, a lot of good can be done with the right use of smart phones, Facebook, Twitter and internet access. However as with all things, we have to guide our children on the right use of technology. The AAP recommends that children under 18 months should not be exposed to any digital media. Children 2 to 5 years old should be limited to one hour a day. For older children and teens they should of course be given time for their homework and parents should set reasonable standards for digital media used for entertainment.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of supervision and being fully present with your teens and knowing who they are communicating with on social media. Talk to your teens ore someone else will, and you won’t like what they have to say. Don’t allow smart phones to take over family time. Teach teens to be fully present for family functions and activities. Encourage younger children and teens to socialize and learn how to interpret social queues instead of losing themselves in a make believe world. And of course, remind your teens to never drive and text or talk on the phone for their own safety and the safety of others.
Yes, the latest technology teaches us a lot but we should guard against it ruling our lives and literally taking over our human functioning.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” ~ Albert Einstein
Photo Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/toddlers-tablets-future/story?id=19332916