It’s been ages since you’ve seen one of your closest friends. You go to a nice diner or café to chat about your new internship, romantic partner or perhaps about the university you have been attending. You’ve both made your selections off of the menu. It will be grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, or something comforting and nostalgic. You are ready to divulge the past couple of years when their phone bleeps. “Oh hold on a sec—“ they interrupt you. “Hank sent me a Snapchat,” they’ll say, stifling uncontrollable laughter. They spend the next minute wildly contorting their face for ‘selfies’ to send as a response, determined to be an active participant of the ridiculous exchange. We’ve all been there. Yes, apps like Snapchat are designed to increase communication, but I would argue that it significantly contributes to detachment from one’s immediate surroundings.
One time in a room of close friends, everyone started using the “Draw Something” application on their smart phones with the same people in the room. Valuable discussion had gone amiss as my friends’ eyes were glued to tiny screens, dedicating precious time to activities with petty, useless entertainment. Maybe these applications serve as outlets for increased individual creativity, but I feel like it’s more often a crutch for boredom. Instead of being stimulated by the musings of your own brain when bored, we now have devices that provide instant gratification.
For the aged 15 to 20-something year olds, I’m not as concerned about our attachment to technology. We’ve adapted to technology and used it in moderation. We remember a time when cell phones didn’t exist in an accessible, pocket sized form. As kids, most of us relied on outside play, bicycle riding, participation in sports and imaginary games for entertainment. Yes, there were still interesting TV programs to watch and semi-portable gaming devices, but nothing to the widely dispersed fingertip devices accessible to children today.
Multiple studies indicate that healthy child development includes movement, touch, human connection and exposure to nature. This ensures normal development of posture, bilateral coordination and optimal arousal states and self regulation. With the rapid increase and advancement of entertainment technology, the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and attachment systems are under stimulated while the visual and auditory systems are in overload. Some children exposed to violence are in a high state of adrenaline and stress.
No matter how much I wish to see kids abort destructive behavior caused by a powerful attachment to technology, it will only ever escalate more. I can’t expect companies to slow down research and production. The older generations must learn how to embrace this new lifestyle or we’ll be left in the dust. We must realize that new technology has the outstanding capacity to enhance human life, as long as it’s used properly and in regulation.