Editor’s Note: The author is a senior at Bethlehem Central High School and is interning at Spotlight Newspapers.
Not a day goes by when technology doesn’t affect our lives. I’m sitting here at my desk at Spotlight News with my phone to my right, my iPod to the left, my iPad right in front of me as I’m typing on it, and a computer in front of that. Technology really does control our everyday lives. It’s always around us and it seems near impossible to escape.
When I was younger we only had one big, bulky computer in my house. Back then, I would spend my time outside with my friends and only on weekends or at nighttime when it was too dark to play outside would I use the computer. But nowadays, it seems to be the other way around. Kids, myself included, are spending more time inside than out and that is a growing problem. I’d like to think I got lucky with my generation because we can still see the benefit in playing outside and physical activity. But there are still a large group of kids who never leave a screen.
I’m more concerned about health issues than anything else when it comes to the increasing amount of technology in our lives. Kids and adults are spending way too much time looking at computers or TVs, and studies have shown it can damage their eyes. Not only that, but there is also a weight concern for people who get minimal physical activity. Some adults sit in a cubicle all day staring at a computer screen, and some kids spend every hour they can outside of school on the computer or a game system.
The average adult is awake for 15 hours and 45 minutes every day, and 45 percent of that time is spent using some form of technology. We now spend almost half of our waking hours either online, on the phone, or watching television according to one survey. But these habits are not rare at all. We are now exposed to technology 24/7 and with new gizmos and gadgets coming out every week we are constantly pressured into pursuing the newest things.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that youths aged 8 to 18 spend more than seven-and-a-half hours a day using a smartphone, computer, television or other electronic device, compared with less than five hours just five years ago when the study was last conducted. That does not count, however, the time that youths spend texting or talking on the phone.
I love technology, though. I love going home and playing PS3, watching TV and going on the computer. I even enjoy writing this on my iPad. It is the one thing that cannot be replaced. It has too much value to mankind, and that is kind of frightening.
Recently, in returning from a trip to Pennsylvania, I exclaimed to my father that traveling in an unknown area would be a lot easier if we owned a GPS or an iPhone (as opposed to printing out directions before leaving). My father quickly replied by simply tossing me a road map of the Northeast. This little experience made me realize that the new gadgets are really just luxuries.
Think about it, if you use a GPS device to get around, you never really learn where you are. You’ll end up always being dependent on technology, but then you would have to ask yourself, what would you do if technology failed one day?
The improvement of technology is so quick nowadays that people are constantly using some form of it. For instance, the iPhone and iPod touch came out in 2007, only six years ago. Most of us can remember the big bulky design and interface that came along with it. Ever since then, the smartphone people have been able to do basically everything from listening to music, to paying your taxes on a cellphone. Not to mention, it also looks cool and has a beautiful display.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is nothing we can do to avoid technology entirely, but I still stand by the fact it is slowing making people dull. For example, if you have to add 85+12+37+593 then you’ll almost surely depend on a calculator to answer it for you. But where’s our mind mechanism? We obviously need technology in our lives, it’s made so we can be comfortable, safe and connected, but let’s not make technology a habit.