Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Screens in the form of phones, ipads, tablets, laptops have become such an integral part of society and so very quickly.
As a photographer and avid people watcher I have to say that people are becoming more and more boring to watch these days. Unless they are banging into a pole because they’re walking like zombies with their head in a phone bubble. That’s pretty funny, but sad really.
Our need to be “connected” to the online world is something that has literally taken over the world and I’m concerned about it.
The reason I am worried is because I foresee a whole generation of people who are going to be shaped by this experience of growing up – as part of the machine -the device…the screen…the worlds within it, instead of in the real live tactile, happening right now world!
Don’t get me wrong, I embrace technology. It has many positives, and after all I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn’t considering I am sitting here on my bed with my laptop in front of me typing this.
What bothers me is the insidiousness of how the machine creates psychological addiction in so many people.
You don’t think you are addicted? Keep a tally and record how many times you check your phone in a 24 hour period. Most people would be surprised.
Count how many hours per day you spend on the internet, in whatever way you access it.
Just how much time do you spend on facebook? Playing games?
I honestly don’t mean to make people feel guilty – just aware. Well, maybe a little bit guilty.
Already it is being recognised that this addiction to technology is an actual REAL addiction like any other, causing anxiety, depression and personality changes in some cases. The most frightening thing is that children are being affected – and not just affected but shaped.
It’s hard. To be a parent is difficult enough as it is, but to try and restrict or shield or monitor your kids online usage and activity is a nightmare. As if the plethora of all the other challenges of parenthood wasn’t enough, then the universe decided to throw in Pokemon.
It’s no joking matter though.
As my 20 yr old daughter said to me last night. “ I predict that there will be a whole new, substantial category of mental illness labels attributed to screen addiction that affect this generation.”
I agree, and it is happening already. IAD is just one. Internet addiction disorder.
We already know that people are being influenced – in many ways.
Take online dating for example. Studies are beginning to show that because so much of our social interaction is taking place online that many young people, when put in the real face to face world are lacking in some of the very basic social skills needed to form and cement long term healthy relationships.
Does this mean that even some of our most basic primitive instincts – like our intuition in reading body language, picking up on key vocal clues, reading facial expressions etc are becoming muted. Lost perhaps even?
Could it even be possible that in the very long term that we will devolve? Lose some of our instincts in this human department?
It’s a bit of a scary thought, but possible don’t you think?
Take our propensity to “google” as another example of how our brains are changing. Because so much information is simply there at our fingertips it is said that our memory is being affected. We don’t NEED to remember things because we are bombarded with so many short snippets of information by googling that it is simply not being retained. Are we outsourcing our memory to Google? How is this affecting the developing brains of children I wonder, not to mention the pandora’s box of undesirable things young minds are being inadvertently exposed to when searching on the internet.
As a personal example, which really shocked me recently… I have a twitter account, which I never really use but I happened to go looking on twitter the other day for art related content. I came upon an account which on first sight looked art related but suddenly I found myself looking at hard core porn. It is SO easy to accidentally happen upon images like these when on the internet. I have no problem with what adults choose to view but I DO think it’s a problem for young malleable minds to be exposed to pornography because how does this influence how they feel about sex, sexuality and themselves? Porn addiction is yet another concern.
How you grow up and the experiences you have shape your mind and are such an intrinsic part of the person whom you become.
Your experiences define so many of your subsequent values, principles and life choices, whether it be subconscious or consciously.
What worries me is that because more and more children are being “left to their own devices” – literally, is that their experience pool is almost completely devoid of real life tactile interaction with the natural world that we exist in.
What impact is this going to have for the future?
If we aren’t raising children who CARE, deeply and fundamentally about the environment – who feel a definable CONNECTION to it and the other species on this planet…what will the consequences of this be? Seriously, this is scary.
Some might say…Oh but you can watch things about the planet on the internet…See how the rainforests are being destroyed, read about how many species are becoming extinct…It’s NOT the same!
In order to truly appreciate something you have to LIVE it….breathe it….roll in it, touch it, and be awed by it in a total sensory way. Human beings are designed this way.
You literally have to smell, touch and taste the flowers in order to truly value them. You can’t do this through a screen, so for those children who come home from a classroom and then spend hours in their bedroom or living room staring at screens, how much are they REALLY feeling a connection to the world in which we exist and as a result how much do they value it?
What consequences will arise from this as far as conservation of our natural world in the future?
Or will all that matters be better, bigger, (or smaller) faster screens?
I’m not saying all technology is evil and “negative” but don’t you think the balance is being lost here somehow? How many playgrounds sit empty? Where are the kids playing in the street after school? I know, I know…it’s a dangerous world “out there”. But it can be just as dangerous “in here”.
Being an active participant in life means putting away your screens – without having a panic attack because you have. A healthy balance is needed where technology is concerned. Children need to be taught this – led by example. If parents are walking zombies in their phone bubbles how do you expect their children will not follow suit?
Children absolutely need to play in the sunshine, go camping, see REAL animals, experience nature, run barefoot through the mud, and smell and taste the rain because then the real world will have true meaning and value.
It’s creepy to think about technology and how we are “advancing” …How machines/ robots might eventually take our jobs. Might even, as depicted in science fiction movies become our relationship “partners”. Frightening to contemplate a world where machines become human, but even more frightening to me anyway, is a world where humans become the machine.