The word “technology” has been heard for decades and nowadays it has become a word that isn’t just spoken, it’s practiced. The evolution of this field has accompanied the evolution of societies, both creating new ways to make our life easier and trying to keep up with our consumers’ lifestyle. In a world where technological evolution is inevitable, new generations are born with the idea that it’s impossible to live without all our modern high-tech equipment’s.
Several studies indicate the rate of technology addiction is becoming as serious as drug addiction which similar destructing effects. According to a study made by etextbook seller CourseSmart and Wakefield Research, on 500 American students, 38% are unable to spend ten minutes without using some form of technology. The use of computers and tablets for note-taking in classes is preferred by 70% of the students and 60% of them use this digital support to create presentations. Instead of face-to-face communication, students also prefer to contact their teachers via email, which the justification that it is easier and quicker. According to the Telegraph article Facebook Generation Suffer Information Withdrawal Syndrome, after spending 24 hours without technology, volunteer users showed the same symptoms has a smoker attempting to give up. Participants experienced “fidgety, anxious, isolated and withdrawal” feelings in the beginning of the experience but the majority developed a coping mechanism and started to pay more attention to the interactions around them. The conclusions of this study, led by the University of Maryland’s International Centre for Media and the Public Agenda, were “the extent to which we are using some of this modern technology and new media is changing us. (…) how dependent people now are on their technology. People often don’t own watches or alarm clocks because they rely upon their mobile phones to wake themselves up. (…) people freely admitted that they were experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. The students likened the experience to going on a diet, giving up smoking and going cold turkey.” As a final and marking confirmation, it becomes obvious that “if we become a bit more aware how we are using this technology, it might help us to control the effect it has on us.”
These are just a few examples of how technology has a physical effect on us, even if we do not realize it. It is a fact that technology is something that we use without giving it a second thought, and it is something that we only realize how much we rely on it when it fails us, like an electric failure or a dead coffee machine. This behavior is starting ever more and earlier in life, children now play in iPhones and watch cartoons on Youtube. Children tend to be more withdrawn and grow up more in solitude preferring to communicate with friends over social and gaming networks over physical interaction. This is an immense difference compared to the generations born in the 80s and the 90s, not only technologically but in mentality and dependence. Most of the “revolutionary” technology gadgets that people from these two generations are now completely unknown to the “Facebook generation”, like the Walkman/Discman, the software of Windows 1 (released in 1985) and the floppy disk. Back in the 90s, the technology present in the private the house was limited, since it was not as accessible financially as it is in current days. The behaviour related to how to deal with technology also changed, maybe justified by the speed that it is developed, which is much higher nowadays than it was back then. In past generations, children would play in the neighbourhood with other children, engaging all types of group activities and games instead of sitting in front of a computer screen for hours with no face-to-face interaction.
Technology is tool, something that we use to make our life easier, even if we’re not aware of it. In the medical field, its evolution saves thousands of lives and in the social sphere it allows us to keep in touch with friends from all around the world faster and easier than ever before. But it is important to realize that it got to a point where technology controls us, we depend on it, and we can not live without it. What can be done? Firstly awareness, to make people aware of the extreme dependence on social networks and technology is the first step for a more balanced life-style in terms of interaction. And secondly, it is not possible to disconnect completely from technology, we use computers and cellphones in our work, we are surrounded by it. Activities like jogging, reading books or newspapers or informal get-togethers are a few suggestions of activities that can help relax and forget the stress of a full-day of work and technology.
by Andreia Nuno
Graduate from the New University (Portugal), Degree in Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures, English and Portuguese Studies (PT, EN), Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts (EN, FR)
Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination of the European Parliament
Gray, Richard. January 1st 2001. Consulted in 18th July 2014 on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8235302/Facebook-generation-suffer-information-withdrawal-syndrome.html