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I can very well remember being a child in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I was not allowed to play inside with friends unless the weather was cold, rainy, or if it was dark outside. I did not have many electronic gadgets and toys besides maybe some walkie talkies or a remote control car. I mainly played outside, climbing trees, swimming, and exploring. My friends and I were always using our imaginations to entertain ourselves. Even the times when I was allowed to play inside I played with dolls, colored, and used blocks and leggos. So I was still using my imagination. I never sat on the computer for hours playing video games. Times have changed drastically.
Today children do not use half the imagination I used to. Starting at a very early age children are now receiving very expensive technological toys and phones. I did not get an iPod until I was thirteen. My little brother got one when he was seven. This technological age is not just a problem with children; the trend is also big with adults as well. Almost every time you pass someone on the sidewalk or in a hallway, he/she has a phone in his/her hand. And if not a phone, a lap top. The purpose of my argument is not to bash technology. Technology is what has made America grow, and what is keeping humans alive longer. What I am bashing is the excessive amounts that we decide to use technology. I am going to explain to you how using technology to a certain extent is acceptable, but how too much can be harmful.
For starters, children obesity rates are continuing to rise. The rates have increased from 14.5% in 2000 to 17.3 % in 2012 according to the Huffington Post. Is this related to the rise in technology, you may ask. Or, is it caused by amounts of sugary foods children are eating? According to Parenting.com, the lack of physical activity in children is caused by “computers, television, and video games.” These activities keep children sedentary and keep them from physical exercise and activities that burn high amount calories children need to grow and develop. While spending thirty minutes to an hour every now and then on the computer will not do much damage, and still allow the child to become technologically advanced. There needs to be a point where the parent steps in to instruct the child to spend his or her free time differently. There are not many eight year olds are self-conscious about their bodies, feeling like they must exercise. Most of the children who use their free time doing physical activities just enjoy it therefore preferring to do that over video games. A cousin of mine was introduced to the PlayStation and computer at a very young age. At age four he was able to completely operate both by himself. As he got older I noticed him gaining weight; more weight than he should have. I also noticed the lack of physical exercise he was engaged in. He stopped playing outside with me and kept himself inside. It is safe to say that advances in technology and the over use of that technology has helped lead to most childhood obesity cases.
Next, face to face human communication is slowly but surely becoming less effective. How many text messages do you send a day compared to the amount of phone calls you have? A lot to a little, correct? Our world is being taken over by digital communication. “Everyone’s connected but no one is connecting,” are lyrics in Armin Van Buuren’s new song “Alone.” I love this quote. Everyone is connected to phones, internet, games, but no one is connecting to each other. Sitting at a restaurant I look around, almost half the people I see are playing on their cell phones instead of engaging in a conversation with the person sitting in front of them. I sometimes fall guilty of this. While waiting for my food to arrive I will sometimes check social media or my emails to help the time go by. But can you call it a date if you’re constantly looking at your phone? Brand&Mortar.com writer, Brandon Copeland, says, “We’ve become so wrapped up with new technology that we’ve pretty much forgot how to engage and interact with each other face-to-face. Family dinners are becoming rarer. This century, what my family and many other families consider a “family dinner” is sitting around or flat screen smart TV while eating a meal. When parents are able to get their children to come to the table, most of the children are bringing their cell phones along, causing the parent to force the phones away from their child, if they are not on their phones as well. 91% of American adults owned a cell phone in 2013. This number grew by 26% since 2004 according to Pew Research Center. My father and I can be sitting in the same house, and instead of confronting me with a situation or question, he will simply shoot me a text message. People are depending on their cell phones to simplify their lives, therefore lessening their communication skills.
How can the over-use of technology harm our lives? Let’s start with students. Most middle school, high school, and college students own a cell phone, and/or a laptop as well. While most schools and universities have Wi-Fi, it is mainly to be used by teachers and school related use for students. However, most students take advantage of it, I know I have. While sitting in a boring history lecture the student paid a grand to be in, the student tunes it out while looking at looking at social media on his phone he has hid under the desk or shopping on the internet on her Mac book. This distraction reveals itself on the student’s test grades. I myself have struggled with the distraction of my phone in class and from time to time I have to turn mine off to keep me from messing with it. This can become a bad habit for students, causing them to even fail a class, losing a lot of money. This problem has gotten so bad that most classrooms have signs signaling no cellphone use. Even some offices have these as well.
Next, technology can hurt our social lives. The more you surround yourself with video games, and internet, and social media, the less your surround yourself with people and human interaction. Ted.com says: “We spend 3 billion hours a week as a planet playing videogames.” It is actually proven that people can become socially awkward by spending too much time gaming. People are forgetting reality and focusing too much on the World Wide Web. There is a show on MTV called Catfish that’s purpose is to introduce couples who meet online, or catch the people putting on fake acts. By being involved in an online relationship with a person you have never met, this takes away your time from real people you have in your life. When the two may finally meet, it can be hard for them to communicate because it is completely different from talking face to face.
The other way technology can hurt you, is if you use it at the wrong place and time, such as while driving. With the growing amounts of cell phones, and the growing amounts of people with cars, there is obviously going to be some texting and driving, which can be very dangerous. 26% of the nation’s car crashes are caused by cellphones according to USA TODAY. That percentage could be cut in half if people could do without their cell phones for just a few minutes. How much is a text message really worth to you? More than half of today’s drivers use cellphones while driving, but nine out of ten of them say it should be illegal according to Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week editors and staff who a Driver Distraction surveyed on 1000 drivers. In almost every category of distraction, over 50% of all the drivers who admitted to commit that distraction, said the distraction, such as using a cellular device, should be illegal. In the United States, texting and driving has been outlawed in forty five states and the District of Columbia. I’m not sure how many fatalities it will take for people to realize that using a cell phone while driving is a very dangerous example of over usage of technology.
AT&T has started a new campaign called It Can Wait. The motto is “No text is worth a life… it can wait.” The campaign is persuading people to take a No texting and driving pledge, “encouraging drivers to make a commitment to never text and drive.” AT&T is a very well-known cellphone company, one of the most profitable one in the world. This company makes money off of people increasing their usage on their cell phones. However, they feel it is their responsibility to inform people of the dangers of this multi-task. So, the company is willing to gain less money, if they are able to save the lives of their customers. This goes to show how the over use of technology can be harmful to not only your life, but others as well.
Another company that promotes technological use, but has begun a campaign to lessen its use is Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon is a large TV network for entertaining children and families. The annual campaign is called World Wide Day of Play. Usually on the third September Saturday, Nickelodeon will shut down all programming on its channel for three hours from 12pm until 3pm. This is supposed to encourage children and families to get out from in front of the television and other technological devices indoors, and play outside and enjoy some exercise. During the week of this annual day, many cities around the country will host a marathon of events for families to enjoy as they are getting active. This day is designed for children to un-leash their natural creativity that watching the TV and playing video games demotes. According to holidaysinyear.com playing outside can help children develop their personal and social skills as well as becoming independent and responsible. I feel as though children of my generations and earlier are much more independent than the generation I see growing up now. Because we naturally depended on our imagination and senses when we played, we got into the habit of doing this as we grew. Now because children are depending on cellphones, play stations, and TV’s to keep them entertained they are not using their sense of imagination. That is why Nickelodeon’s annual World Wide Day of Play is such a great campaign.
Technology is overtaking our world. Almost everything we do today involves some sort of technology; in the work space, at school, and even in our homes. Technology is a great way to further our knowledge and advance the world, but when is it too much? Technology is invented to improve our lives, but not take over them. When you notice yourself spending countless unnecessary sedentary hours using the source of technology, becoming addicted, then enough is enough. Playing the Xbox for an hour after dinner or checking social media on your phone for ten minutes, twice a day is not harmful. However playing the Xbox until late hours of the night and staring at your phone screen instead of your family at the dinner table is just inappropriate. In order to lead a healthy active life, we all need to take a step back from our cellular devices and other technological devices, and live in the moment.
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