It’s no secret that technology is a massive part of our lives. We use it to talk, to learn and even to share what we’re doing with everybody else- technology is a necessity that has become irreplaceable in our lives. In the future, they will even be able to drive our cars. The area in which has been most affected by technology is the youth. But is it a good thing? What are the side effects of letting the youth have access to so much information, and letting their lives play out online?
Social media is a massive reason why teenagers are using more technology than ever- we are immersed in it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr are some of the main social media sites that teens are using, with an average of 9100 tweets being posted on twitter every minute and now have over 645,750,000 active registered users. Social media extends the number of people we can interact with, from making it easier to communicate with people, to enlarging the number and diversity of the people that we can talk with. It also allows people, teenagers especially, as they have the most contact with technology, a direct and simple way to their problems, with the answers “being only a click away.” Technology, such as phones and social media, allow youths to communicate much more easily than ever before- with people locally and from around the globe. This allows people, especially youths, are they are the most easily influenced, to experience and learn about different cultures around the world. Never has it been so easy to make a “pen pal.” For example, in this group alone, we have friends from America and Italy, the likes of which have been made online, through social media such as Twitter. Hopefully, this will help to reduce prejudice in future generations.
One of the more obvious good points of technology is the internet, or more importantly, search engines such as google. Through these, youths can easily access a wealth of knowledge. The most popular of these websites are Google and Youtube- we couldn’t last a day without these! Using these websites and search engines enable youths to access nearly unlimited resources for their homework, the likes of which was impossible to access just twenty years before. For example, in a 2012 study by the Pew Internet Survey, 75% of 2,500 teachers agreed that the Internet is having a positive effect on youth’s research skills. In the words of RJ Jacquez: "…the thing is 'mobile sets Learning Free' and we can now learn virtually anything, anywhere and anytime and that's amazing."
However, the internet is not just an amazing resource for learning- it’s a brilliant way of staying in touch, too. Friends and family members that move away need no longer fade out of your life, because it’s now as easily to find them as looking them up on social media, something which is very helpful with keeping families close, and appeals to a lot of people.
On the internet, it’s easy to make friends; as we’ve said before, people in this group alone have internet friends. Using the internet to make friends lets youth experience new cultures, to meet people with different interests, and is brilliant for helping people with disabilities or who don’t do well in social situations- as after all, online, we’re all the same.
But, like all things, technology and social medial comes with the bad, as well as the good. Although technology makes things so much easier, from homework to interacting to even finding people online, that is also one of its negatives. This is because kids growing up in the digital age have it different than any other generation that has gone before. One of the main side effects of technology on youth is that the virtual is stepping over from the phone and into the real.
This is because the youth today are a generation that expects, and to an extent, demands applications- or shortcuts for completing tasks. We ourselves are no different- we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve gotten homework out of our bags and quickly opened up the google tab. This is a side effect of the technology, not just simply on the youth, but having grown up in the time when technology is booming. The youth of today can sometimes shy away from long, methodical tasks, the ones where there is “no app for that.”
The way our generation approaches tasks is not the only way technology has affected our lives. It also effects the way that we talk, the way play- not only that, it has effected youth’s social behaviour. You’ve all seen them- the moody girl or boy with their headphones in when they’re in public, or the teenager immersed in their phone as soon as they step outside. Technology has drastically effected the youth’s social behaviour, because, as we have stated before, they are the age group that is most easily influenced by those around them- including technology.
Although brilliant in many ways, technology can be a negative influence because it isolates people from reality- for example, putting your earphones in and immersing yourself with music whilst in public, as this disconnects you from the real world. For some people, for example people who feel uncomfortable with dealing with the uncontrollable factors in our world, technology can be an anchor to something familiar. However, you could argue that this is a bad thing. After all, if we do not have to face reality by experiencing new things, making personal relationships, as it was found by Bob Affonso in his article “Is the internet Affecting the Social Skills of our Children” that those who used the internet frequently spend on average 100 minutes less with friends and family than none- internet users, how will we be able to function normally as adults? We asked Charles Arthur, ex- editor of the Guardian and the Independent respectively, what he thought of this problem: “Physically, some people can get lost in the internet - it becomes a replacement for direct experience. But you won’t learn what the granite of Yosemite’s El Capitan feels like from a screen.”
Another big disadvantage of using technology and the internet is that it is very hard to monitor exactly what youths are viewing online- one major worry is that they might be viewing something that is inappropriate for their age group. This raises the question of whether it is a good idea that youth have access to so much online, including social media and Youtube. Although this is obviously a problem, it can be helped with methods such as blocks for certain things, which are very easy to install. Anyway, what’s the alternative? Block youths from the internet completely?
This solution is not to block youths from using the internet- this would be impossible to do, as it inevitable that young people will have access to the internet. It’s becoming built in to everyday devices, cost of access is falling, and so on. The question in which we should be asking is “whether social networks and other systems have actually been designed with consideration for what is appropriate for people of different ages to access. YouTube, for example, makes no distinction in age-appropriateness for anything between 0 and 18; it sees the world as those who are under 18 and over, which to any parent is ridiculous. Yet there’s no feature to ensure that children only access content on YouTube that’s appropriate. That means that if you want to guard against inappropriate material, you have to supervise every minute of a child’ use of it - unlike books or television. Its flaws like this, and what amounts to laziness on the part of those who set up these networks, that create real problems,” says Charles Arthur.
So, in conclusion, the technology and the internet in youths in neither good nor bad. Technology provides people, especially youths, as they are usually the most tech- savvy, with the means of not only accessing an amazing wealth of knowledge, but it also helps us to communicate with people in a much easier way than ever before, both locally and the other side of the world. It can also strengthen the confidence of people who, in the classroom, may not do that well, but thrive online.
But on the flipside, there are certainly bad points to technology and the internet in youths. These include inappropriate content, a lack of social skills- something the likes of which is very dangerous for the future- and the hindering of personal communication, to name a few.
By none of the points above mean that technology in youths is a good or a bad thing. This is because technology is not something that was created with a good or a bad purpose in mind; it is a tool. And like all tools, you can do good and bad with it- it just depends on what your means are. For example, someone who trolls the internet and puts people down about their looks isn’t doing or creating any good. But a person who goes on sites like social media to make new friends, perhaps from a different side of the world, is doing good and creating good.
So, if we work hard to fix the problems that plague the internet, like, for instance the age- appropriateness on Youtube, or help social behaviour for the future, there’s no reason why technology shouldn’t be used by youths- in fact, in the growing technological- age, it should be encouraged!
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