There is no doubt that technology invades almost every aspect of our life now, from how we communicate, to how we relax, learn, and even receive the news. While certain advances are generally considered positive, there is a question of whether we are now completely dependent on technology, and would be able to survive without it. There is worry that being overly reliant on gadgets could completely transform society as we know it, and that it may be too late to stop this from happening.
Yes – We Are Overly Reliant
Some people can already point to whole skill sets that are being lost as a result of technology. Very few people see map-reading as a skill worth learning anymore, as we can rely on GPS, and nobody tries to calculate anything in their head as everyone has a calculator on their phone. These were considered vital skills at one point, and are on the verge of being lost completely.
Another element that bothers people is that the art of conversation could die, as so much communication is conducted via technology, whether through texting or social media. People rarely even pick up the phone to make a call any more, meaning that simple speech communication, not just face to face is at risk.
The main issue that bothers many people is the fact that there is a whole generation of children who are being raised in such a way that technology fills most of their needs. It’s how they play, how they learn, how they interact. A tablet is often a babysitter, and a movie has replaced a bedtime story. Physical development can be stunted or harmed as so many kids just sit around playing video games all day.
No – We Are Not Dependent
However, despite the points noted above, there is a solid argument that being reliant on certain aspects of technology isn’t the same as being dependent. As a society we benefit from accepting and adapting to advances, such as the telephone instead of the letter, and now instant communication is possible. In situations of emergency, in contacting loved ones who live far away, this can only be seen as a good thing.
We rely on it more than we rely on skills that used to be important, however being a hunter and builder used to be important skills, and society hasn’t crumbled as a result of the change into modernism. People worried TV would wipe out communication initially, and yet family units and communities have survived. Children have changed their sources of entertainment over the years, and yet one thing that remains the same is that they still rely on their parents and families for food, shelter, clothing, and nurture. This instinct isn’t going to be replaced with technology.
It’s undeniable that certain things have changed with technology, however they’re not necessarily bad – just different, and our dependence doesn’t have to be debilitating. Technology covers cars and planes, which is the best method of transport in so many ways, and many of these advances have led to modern medicine, which most people see as an advantage. While there is a risk of losing social skills, individuals need to make a choice of whether or not to spend all of their time in front of a screen or not – it’s not a collective problem.
Technology brought us machines, computers, cars and aeroplanes. It made the world smaller by providing good communication tools, made it possible to explore the solar system and the universe and proved that technology is truly significant in human advancement.
There’s no denying technology is great, but are humans becoming too dependent on technology? Advancements in technology have enabled humans to do things that were previously unimaginable and it has certainly made many tasks easier than they were before. How many of us can go for a week without an internet connection or cell phone? Do people take time to memorise phone numbers anymore? Technology has made life so convenient for humans that being without it is a very scary thought. What would happen if we had to go without our gadgets? What would happen if all the technology that people depend on just shuts down?
According to www.debate.org, a very big percentage of their respondents believe that humans are becoming too dependent on technology. Based on this poll question: “have people become overly dependent on technology?” 84% said Yes and 16% said No. Below are some examples of comments on the poll.
“Yes, I have to agree that many people are becoming too dependent on technology. From simple things, like adding numbers in their mind vs. on a calculator, to more complicated tasks like planting a garden, humans rely on gadgets. In America, hardly anyone walks or rides a bike, people want to drive everywhere, even for a short distance. I don’t know how many people would survive if technology suddenly disappeared.”
“The world is evolving to incorporate technology into every facet of our lives. Because of this new reliance we are losing the ability to take care of ourselves in an organic and all natural way. Just look at how GPS systems have changed the way people travel. People can’t even read a map anymore.”
“Technology is not the problem. It is the way that we use it. If we just used it as a tool instead of as a way to escape reality then all is fine. It is the people who sit on their asses playing video games all day that make it seem that way.”
“I have heard people say that life is way harder without technology. We know this, but technology was created to make life easier, that is the main purpose. Just because we might rely on something doesn’t mean we can’t live without it. Sure, it will be harder since we are used to it, but not impossible.”
Two years ago, Google announced that they would collaborate with Novartis on a new model of smart contact lenses that can monitor the blood sugar and can also correct impaired vision. This is an exciting step for technology. The project has produced positive results that will one day help people in their day to day lives. The main concern of critics, however, is the way our technology habits affect out behaviour and cognitive functions. For example, some smartphone users have a constant need to check their phone every time they wake up and at short intervals throughout the day which can be distracting.
The Effects of Technology
Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are just a few of them:
If anyone wants to be entertained, there’s no need to leave the house. You won’t spend money on gas or waste time in traffic, that’s for sure. There’s no point of getting up, take a shower or getting dressed up just when you can just sit on the couch and surf Netflix. Microsoft and Nintendo have even introduced Kinect and Wii which capture your movement in real time and simulate your movement in the game you’re playing with the respective consoles. You can simulate bowling, playing tennis, shooting game or fishing. You see the dilemma here: why do the real thing when you can do it inside the house?
The term social has a very different meaning now. Decades ago, when you say “social” or you’re going to a “social event”, it means that you’re going to another place and mingle or party with other people. You actually greet, talk, maybe become friends and be social with others. Now, when people speak of social, it usually means you’re active on social media. You have multiple social media accounts, older folks surely used to have their “Friendster” and MiRC accounts, then came “MySpace” and then “Facebook”, “Instagram” and “Twitter”. Being social nowadays means that you have many “friends” on your friends list even though you don’t personally know most of them. People are more willing to talk or interact in the digital world than in real life.
Social media is not totally bad though, because it can be used in business very effectively. Social media is used to connect and engage customers and prospects on a more personal level. Social media is also used by the masses in spreading news and anything relevant that can potentially change the political landscape of a country or a region. You can also use social media to locate long lost friends or relatives and connect with them again.
GPS or Global Positioning System. This technology used to be a military secret which was applied to covert operations. When the technology was introduced to the masses, it was a revelation. Commercial planes, recreational sports that require location and other positioning applications take advantage of GPS. Portable GPS systems used to be a separate device and a bit expensive, now smart phones and cars have inbuilt GPS.
Many people say that we are getting closer to the day when people will not be able to read paper maps anymore and there are already a good number of young people that have no idea to navigate on their own through the city streets without using GPS.
When was the last time you decided to call someone just to talk or have a conversation for hours? Most of our remote interactions today are done through text messages, emails and through online messaging apps and platforms. Some people hate to admit it, but there are times that it’s quicker and easier to just use emoticons than to actually say the words they represent. It can be annoying to the receiver though, because they will think that you’re too lazy to even type the things that you need to say. Another thing that is fast disappearing is compassion behind these artificial representations of human emotion through chat platforms. Try calling someone. You might even enjoy it!
5. Finding Answers
Years ago, you had to physically go and spend time in the library to look for specific books to get your specific answers to your specific questions. Now we have Google, Wikipedia, YouTube and other knowledge-based websites. Plus, there are thousands of reference books that are scanned and converted to a digital format and uploaded to the internet.
Google, the popular search engine, has made the process of finding answers very easy. But still for many, nothing beats the feel and smell of buying a new book and reading it wherever you please.
Signs That a Person is too Dependent on Technology
Technology is a wonderful thing and there is no doubt that we’re currently living in the age of technological advancements. It should come as no surprise that almost every aspect of our lives are now evidently becoming dependent on these complex devices. There is no question that such high-tech devices have enriched our lives and made everything easy. All the advantages are there and we are reaping the benefits, but all too often we overlook the negative effects of technology dependency. Below are some of the signs of technology dependency.
1. No Internet, No Work
Well, not all jobs, of course, but there are business organisations that depend heavily on the internet and intranets. When the system is down, work comes to a standstill. Emails cannot be sent to clients, the required data are not received and sent to the essential people outside the field and all the necessary documentation that is needed for the day cannot be accomplished.
2. Using Calculators For Simple Calculations
Make no mistake that if anyone asked “what is 775 times 542?”, most people would reach for their calculator and unfortunately, most of today’s students consider the calculator a shortcut tool to pass math instead of just a learning aid to be used only when manual calculations are time consuming or too complex. And the chances of mathematical mistakes are high when students and adults don’t have basic manual math skills.
3. The Product Is Not What You Expect
Many of you have experienced buying something online – clothes, a pair of pants or shorts, bikinis, a dress or appliances only to discover that it doesn’t look like in did online and you need to send it back. It’s really convenient to buy things online but it’s such a hassle figuring out how to send the item back if something goes wrong. Often this is a complex process which will waste your time and money.
There’s nothing wrong with reading virtual or digitised editions of books, texts and references on a computer, a smart phone, a tablet or Kindle. But many learners, especially children have taken to eBooks when reading rather than traditional, physical paper books. Whenever a teacher or an author gives some references to a classroom or announced a new book release, there will be a mad dash to download a copy from the internet. Even reading stories to children has become synonymous with using tablets or mobile phones. Still, there are some people who like the feel and smell of paper books. To them nothing can replace something precious and tangible as compared to a digital copy which can be deleted with just a few clicks.
5. Not Living In The Moment
Ever since smartphones introduced cameras and video apps, everyone just wants to take a picture or take a video of everything and not live and feel the moment. Never mind the annoying selfies but when you go to a show or a concert and everyone is raising their smartphones recording the show on video and blocking your view. There are so many moments that you try to capture on video only to realise that you’re not experiencing the moment.
6. Mobile Phone Addiction
Whenever you forgot your phone at home or in your car or if it gets repaired, you surely experience “separation anxiety”. You feel incomplete or naked without your phone. Some people’s schedules revolve around their phones signal strength. Many gadget–loving people are even reluctant to go on vacations to slightly remote places because there will be less network coverage or probably none at all. These people will be bored to death if they have not posted their Facebook status, uploaded their pictures on Instagram or tweeted about how the beach looks cool. In the days of Blackberry’s dominance, owners of the device were jokingly called “Crackberrys” because the couldn’t seem to put down their phone. Yes, it’s a good thing to admire your gadgets and technology, but too much of it can leave you stressed or strung-out. Many studies and reports have shown that smartphone usage can lead to accidents and it is one of the primary causes of a poor work-life balance.
7. You Don’t Remember Phone Numbers Anymore
Unless it’s your own mobile number, your parents or siblings, you don’t memorise phone numbers anymore. Well, it’s a given that some mobile numbers are 11-12 digits long but gone are the days of memorising your crush’s home phone number and calling them at night just to hear their voice. Everything now is listed and saved on your smart phone. If you lost your mobile phone or if the memory gets wiped out, it’s just like the heavens fell on your face. You’re back to zero, unless you have made a backup copy of all your contacts and saved it in the cloud. If not, then you need to do store your contacts one by one.
8. Too Many Simulations
Simulation games are fun: racing simulations, plane simulations, tank simulations, fishing simulations, biking simulations. In the next 10 years, the demand for innovative and smart entrepreneurs will go up. To sharpen and enhance the analytical capabilities and decision-making capabilities of students and other learners, computer simulations that represent a wide range of business scenarios are often made and arranged for schools. There are times that schools tend to overdo it and trying to explain everything in terms of hypothetical and simulated programs and the real-life research and scenarios are not discussed properly. It would be a bright move to let the students and learners handle small, token business projects on their own, since it would develop their sense of responsibility and the ability in risks managing. Businesses are becoming successful because of critical and creative thinkers and not pre-programmed humans.
9. On-site Stores Decreasing
Many companies and retailers are going for the online route. Yes, there are online shops together with physical, bricks and mortar stores, but in the coming years, these establishments may go out of fashion. These days, you can order almost everything online. It’s more convenient because you just have to click on a few buttons using your tablet, smartphone or computer and wait for the product to be delivered. In the US, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Office Max have closed hundreds of their retail stores. Bicycle manufacturer and no/1 in the world “Giant” have decided to go to direct online selling, bypassing bicycle retailers. Sear’s have turned many of their retail stores into big data centers. It shows that it’s shifting its marketing and retail plan into cyberspace.
10. Playgrounds Are Becoming Empty
This is evident specifically in the first world and other Western countries as playgrounds are no longer the center of children’s activities. Even preschoolers are busy tapping away on their tablets on their mobile apps for kids that their parents got for them. Come on now, parents, do you really think very young kids need gadgets of their own? There was a time when parents used to let their kids go play outside the house, or the park and on the playgrounds. They let their kids’ hangout with other kids without worrying too much about dirt or a bit of horseplay and a bit of horseplay would make the kids better. Sometimes, adults worry too much or are just too engrossed in gadgets that we forget that children need to really play and interact with other children to gain emotional and intellectual growth.
11. Losing Creativity
Everyone should learn how to walk before they can run. Everyone should learn the basics before becoming experts in their chosen field. This goes the same with a person’s creativity. Let’s say for example, you ask your child to draw a picture for you, there’s a big chance that they will get their tablet to power up the PC, launch paint and draw from there. We’re not saying that every child has to be brilliant in art or sketching, but the ever too-easy of tech-based based drawings have taken away the charm of learning, holding and using a pencil to draw pictures or sketches. Now, many starting graphic designers and cartoonists are required to be familiar with a sketching-related software or any related mobile application. Yes, hi-tech sketching on a mass scale is the trend now, but learning the basics should be the first priority.
It may be high time to take a step back from technology to truly evaluate society’s position. We may have taken the step from regular usage to full-blown addiction and technology dependence.