The Impact of New Technology on Up-and-Coming Generations
Everyday we step out of the house we become a part of the whirlwind of society that is striving for change and advancement every day. In this generation alone, we have experienced some of the greatest innovations in technology including medical advancements, energy efficiency, and what I think to be the most influential: the increased availability of handheld technology to the younger generation. Walking down the street it’s rare to pass by a child as young as ten years old who is not in possession of an iPhone, iPad or iPod; sometimes all three. If I were to think back as little as five years ago, when I was a preteen or younger, and ask myself- were these devices as prominent around you then as they are now? My answer would be no, as I’m sure some of you could relate to some point in your lives as well- so if these advancements in technology are becoming more available to a younger generation, what impact (especially socially) will they have on people in the future?
First things first, in order to make claims towards the negative impact of social networking in general, we have to justify the cause. What makes the younger generation so interested in these new branches of technology? A majority of people would claim that it’s a new kind of entertainment and after people get wrapped up in it for a while it will eventually die down. However, there seems to be more than just the fact that it’s the current fad. Unknowingly, people expose themselves to a whole new virtual world that could potentially be unavailable without new social media. According to an article from the journal Researcher’s World, “When these social networking sites started, youths got immediately attracted towards them as they found it very convenient to expand their social circle…. In fact now there is a sort of competition among the youths to pose themselves as most favorite and renowned person on the Internet. The actual competition is to get the coveted title of the king/queen of the virtual world, which is sure to have a profound impact of the psyche of an entire generation. So, the effort, time and focus we spend on creating our position, popularity rate and brand on these social networking sites is a standing testimony to the awakening of the narcissist in us” (Researchers World, 2012). With a vulnerable and naïve group like teens and pre-teens, you can accomplish almost any mental corruption. They’ve developed an idea that some sort of popularity or dominance in the Internet world correlates to reality, but as absurd as it sounds this idea may have some significance in the future.
One argument we can all rationalize is the new influence of social media on the lack of face-to-face interaction of its users. Not too long ago, facebook was used as a network to keep in touch with friends from home or in far places. Now, there are dozens of social networking sites available to people of all ages that have no real purpose, but have gained the interest of teens all across the world. If these sites have no designated positive influence, what impact does it have on those who utilize them? In my opinion, social media is unnecessarily time consuming in the lives of young teens and exposes them to mature aspects of society that they may not be ready for. This can include politics, human interaction and worldly events. Sites like these can be beneficial to expose people as to what’s going on in the world around them by having all information available at the touch of a button, but I think the long-term losses are a lot greater than any short-term gains. If the younger generation always has their faces buried in meaningless technology, it’s going to have a negative impact on abilities for social interaction. The future of America is dependent on the ability to fulfill job requirements, so if this is assumption is accurate then people are going to be ill equipped to meet these standards, or the standards are going to have to change to meet the needs of society. “Digital technologies quickly change our communication style, purchasing behavior, business interactions, and many more areas. It is possible to talk about a complete transformation over time. Based on these developments, compared to older technologies, new technologies have been adopted and implemented more quickly by individuals and businesses. For example, mass production and use of central computers took nearly two decades, mobile devices in seven years, and social media in three years” (Kare-Silver 2011). These fast pace adjustments and transformations could include making a change to utilize this new technology and sites to advance business.
In an article titled “Youth Perceptions of a Technology-Focused Social Enterprise”, author J O’Donnell shares an idea that helps outline the necessity of social abilities in society: “Ho and Chan (2010) suggested that the term social enterprise refers to organizations that manage their business with the dual aims of social improvement and economic gain. Social enterprises act as change agents for society. They identify missed opportunities, create new approaches, and find solutions that make a positive impact on vulnerable members of society, while striving to make a profit.” This enlightens the hope that business will adjust to fit the needs of future adults who are advanced in the knowledge of new technology. One thing that is unlikely to change is that business relationships are built off of trust; with the potential decrease in forming personal relationships, how reliable is a relationship built primarily via internet with no personal interaction?
In a study done by researches at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, they found that as students spent more time playing videogames, the quality of their relationships with peers and family declined (Silverman, 2009). This study exposes the negative impact of engagement in video games, however, what says that it wouldn’t have the same impact on people who use modern technology just as often, if not more. The amount of time that people spend buried in their handheld devices or computers can be argued to be more common and strenuous than those who play hours of video games. Being invested in one thing, whether it’s beneficial or not, for this amount of time is not healthy. Although we do not realize it at the time, the more time we spend wasting on these technologies we’re draining our brains of the common characteristics necessary for every day life such as, social interaction, intelligence and even happiness. All of these factors come in to play when we talk about their impact on future generations.
What we need to start taking into account is how far will these so-called “advancements” take us if we are only taking steps back as a society cumulatively. “Human flourishing is believed by Aristotle to require a rich social context for its fullest realization. The good or blessed life of “eudaimonia”, he argues, is one in which friendship plays a central and necessary role” (Vallor, 2009). Here we see how one of the greatest philosophers known today, views interaction within a community and the building of friendships is one of the most important roles society has to play in pursuit of successful future endeavors. We see that businesses are greedy in that they are going to do whatever possible for their own personal gain, so we have to start holding ourselves accountable in understanding that the things that seem most prevalent in our every day lives may be hurting us in the long run.
As a generation founded on advancements via human interaction, when we learn to prioritize the necessities in life we will be able to utilize these advancements in technology in a positive way that will be beneficial to us individually and as a whole. If we don’t learn to understand these negative influences, we will see businesses that were originally ran from a personal standpoint and friendly face-to-face interaction, become run behind a computer desk at an office for 9 hours a day. Common tasks that we generally believe to be highly valuable to face-to-face interaction seem to find their way through the backdoor of technology as well, such as buying a car or a home. Personal relationships seem to be one thing we have left that is not completely dominated by the use of advanced technology. Although sending a simple hug through e-mail sounds completely impossible, at this rate, it may not be totally out of the question.