Our technology, smartphones: Out of our ‘reach’ and damaging our society?

By Darcy Culverhouse. Darcy, 16, is a student at St Francis’ College, Hertford, UK. Please read her entry and leave your comments below.

While technology is important, its what we do with it that truly matters’- Muhammad Yunus

Rolling down the transparent glass window of  my mother’s six year old car. Bliss. The wind caressed my face with ease, exposing my baby hairs flowing wildly in natures breeze. The smell of the crisp fresh air swooped into the dark exterior of the car, intoxicating my senses with ease. Peace. Peering out of the windscreen of the car, my leaf green eyes absorbed the pure beauty of Thetford Forest, the authoritative trees towering over the car, carefully dropping their leaves as they sway carelessly. To my right, three light-grey rabbits hopped around each other, displaying their adorable cuteness, making my face illuminate with a silly smile. Happiness.

(Anecdote from the week I spent without the use of technology)

According to the Oxford dictionary, the word ‘technology’ can be defined as being: ’the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in the industry’.

Post-reading this definition, I was profoundly bewildered, thus I re-read it over and over again, aiming to interpret the contextual meaning concealed within the term and to fully understand why it was so estranged to me. I couldn’t comprehend how technology was being illustrated as an application ‘of scientific knowledge’, while we use this tool for nearly everything in day-to-day life and has aided our superior evolvement within our species. From this, you can conclude that technology is a notorious important aspect for our growth and development, however do we abuse this application by not using it efficiently?, or do we abuse this application by extensively taking advantage of it?.

I do not believe, nor think, that we acknowledge how technology has invaded our lives and has taken authority over us. I can attempt to make you think about the statement I displayed above, by presenting a certain scenario: Have you ever been waiting in line for a good ol’ cuppa coffee at your local cafe, and instead of interacting with people, you turn to your phone as an amenity, relying on it as a crutch, further supporting that we have programmed the application of technology as a norm. In desperate fear, we put on a fake facade and turn to our beloved companion, technology, in hope to not appear to be isolated and alone. If this has happened to you, I firmly believe that it demonstrates clearly that technology has transpired to become our backbone, something we rely on in todays twisted society, to present ourselves being occupied, in angst of being judged by others.

I will be brutally frank with you, I am honestly frightened and scared of technology, and its limitless ability. It may seem now that we have control over technology, however, have you ever questioned about the rate at which it is progressing? It appears every single week a new form or improvement on technology is made, therefore the demand for the application is always peaking and increasing. Constantly, technology corporations are improving their products and their sells are increasing. Does this demonstrate our societies growing technology addiction?

Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple inc.) was questioned about the use of technology within his household. Of course you would presume that he and his family would have every technological gadget to hand, and his kids would have the newest IPhones. However, Jobs revealed that he tried to limit technology use within his family and raised his kids ‘Tech-free’. Similarly, Bill Gates (Former CEO of Microsoft) adopted Jobs’ ‘Tech-free’ upbringing to his kids. This implicates the damaging effects that technology has on people. Even founders of leading technology corporations do not let their kids have access to technology!

Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains. Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force(information collect from the Independent).

How can we sit around and blatantly ignore the damage that technology is causing, especially for children. They say that your childhood is suppose to be the most free, loving time of your life. With the average age in America to receive a phone being 10.3 years old, children are vulnerable at such a young age. Instead of playing with their friends, building forts, climbing trees, they’re craving their phones and becoming addicted to social media.

We have unconsciously let technology dictate our children’s lives and happiness. The research displayed above, clearly proves the point that technology is becoming harmful to children, the future of our society. What is our future going to be like, if we are allowing technology to control our contentment?

Technology has morphed its way into our ‘everyday lives’, becoming a necessity to us- “Oh gosh I left my phone on my bed at home, can we turn back and go and get it”. My twin brother, Luis, recently said that to my mother during a car journey to London. Luckily, we only just embarked on our journey, so he could easily retrieve it. This comment from my brother seems normal, however, it made me question our dependence on our smartphones. Luis felt the need to go back home and get his phone as he couldn’t sit in the car without his phone occupying his time.

Why cannot we go somewhere without our phones? To you, that may appear to be a ludicrous thought, as you couldn’t imagine going anywhere without your phone. To those, I challenge you to go out without your smartphone just once, see how different your day is without it. Most importantly, see how much better your day is without it.

The anecdote at the start of this essay, described my car journey, travelling through Thetford forest, without my phone. I did not use any form of technology for a week. The time spent without the strains of technology and burden of social media, was one of peace and pure bliss, I felt strangely free and genuinely happy. I was able to spend time with my loveable family, play with my joyful dog, Marley, and focus on my state of mind. For once, I didn’t have an expectation of having the ‘perfect body’ on Instagram, nor did my time fly by as quick as a flash. I had time to myself and most importantly, I had time to spend with my loved ones and to think about more crucial things, rather than obsessing over a materialistic facade. I felt free.

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