Effects of technology on teenagers and their future

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・IT & Technology ・MLA ・10 Sources

1. Introduction

The culture as we know it now has changed drastically over the years. We are getting more humane in our ways and thought, which can be due to technological advancements. The latter is better described as something that has the effect of making people's lives simpler in a number of ways. The idea of technology has transformed the way we operate in such a way that it has enabled some much-needed reforms to ensure that things are done more quickly and efficiently. Regardless of how real this is, it is important to understand that the very technology that has advantages still has pitfalls. People are impacted by technology in diverse ways and more so teenagers who are basically growing up at the height of the technological era. Through the constant interaction with technology, their lives (the teens) are affected and there is the need to understand in what ways this occur thus better understanding the kind of relationship we may have with technology in the future.

2. Literature Review

One of the most important ways in which technology affects the lives of teenagers is through obsession. Literally, a huge percentage of the world’s teen’s population is addicted to technology. Wallace explains that technology is like a drug to them since their lives revolve around it with 50% admitting to being addicted to their mobile phones. For teens, smartphones are their number one go to technology device that they have to have access to on a daily basis. Individuals between the ages of 13-17 years are said to be the most addicted to 92% of the population going online on a daily basis (Lenhart).
The problem here is that technology is slowly taking over the lives of our teenagers and as Wallace emphasizes on, teenagers are becoming ‘mobile phone zombies.’ This means that for every hour a teenager is awake, they have to have access to a mobile thus being depended on them. Lenhart further adds that online addiction through the phone is also a reality that the society has to deal with as far as this age group is concerned. On constant, 24% of teens will be online on a regular basis while only 6% do it weekly and 2% less often (Lenhart). This is a problematic area because, from the statistics, it can be concluded that phone addiction is taking up more teen time leaving limited time for other live related activities.
Having access to a mobile phone has become so easy and perhaps the reason as to why we are witnessing the above percentages. A recent research shows that African-American kids have a higher percentage of accessing a mobile device at 85% as compared to the 71% of white and Hispanic teens (Lenhart). From this, it is not surprising to understand how the 50% addiction that Wallace is talking about can be achieved. Furthermore, 71% will use their phones to log into social media sites on a daily basis (Wallace) meaning they are not only addicted to their phones but online sites as well.
In regards to online sites, another effect that technology has on teens is that it makes them vulnerable to security risks. There is no denying that online sites are a favorite to many because they offer an effortless platform of interaction and communication. However, the same sites call on its users to upload information that is at times too personal. Teenagers are known to easily upload their photos, share personal information such as location and phone numbers without necessarily taking into account the risk involved. Vanderhoven, Schellens, Valcke and Raes analyze a survey that communicates on the importance of online behavior for teenagers when their security is a concern. According to Vanderhoven et al, in as much as teens are open with their data, they also exercise some control as to who has access to it through the privacy control settings available from the sites. This is a positive effect because it proves they are aware of the looming dangers thus careful with sharing their information but it is important to also take into perspective the realities of cyber crime. Through this, any information can be made visible to third parties who can use it in a negative manner.
Technology also affects teenagers in the manner in which it also them to connect both socially and academically. For today’s teenagers, social interaction is still very important but given the availability of technological devices such as phones, iPads, and computers, there is a difference in how they interact. Most teens will spend the least time having physical interactions (Warner) but when it comes to technological connectivity, the percentage increases. The distance needed to be traveled in order for this interaction to occur in addition to the above fosters the demand for this kind of connectivity.
Today’s teen spends more time online connecting with friends through social media and gaming platform as this is comfortable and effective for them. Hickerson, one such teen explains that he has been able to maintain a friendship with his closest friend who is on military work by playing “Call of Duty” with him (Johnson). This explains shows how teens are evolving in their relations in that in as much as they are shying away from physical interactions; technology allows them to make new friends while maintaining the ones that they already have. It is a win situation for them but a parental concern given that they are more indoors than outdoors doing more exploration (Johnson).
Teenagers are further being affected by technology in regards to their academic studies. According to George and Odgers, teens are today implementing the intense usefulness of technology to do school related research work as well as the changes that are happening in their lives. Technology has allowed for the world’s largest database to be at the fingertips of anyone who needs to access it, all that is required is to have the right connectivity and tools available. Today, there is basically no form of inquiry that one cannot find on the internet more so thorough search engines such as Google. Given the array of information as available for the general population, teens are in a more advantaged position with their school work as they can now do it with ease without necessarily visiting a library.
The benefit of this is that information is accessed in a timely and effective manner that the student spends the least of time researching for specific details. However, the disadvantage of this is that it is denying them the ability to acquire basic skills that will get them through life (Warner). Furthermore, Postman is of the opinion that we have now reached a point in life where we are flooded with too much information that it is now dangerous because of meaningless and irrelevant information. This is out of the fact that we are no longer facing a scarcity but the inflow of information is too much that some do not hold any water.
Taking into perspective how technology is encouraging laziness amongst the youth of the world, Gardner and Davis further emphasize on the continual demand of applications that give us the easy way out. Applications which are commonly known as apps are teens must have on their technology communication devices as these apps are designed to accomplish specific tasks as effectively and precisely as possible (Xue). There are apps that take away the burden of doing traditional things that were once considered essential as per the skills and experience they would allow for. Therefore, the more apps teens have access to, the more they are avoiding the need to develop the aforementioned life skills for a better future. For instance, parents today are concerned that their children are losing the skill of cursive writing because as schools embrace the use of technology, teachers are demanding fewer assignments to be hand written but type thus the skill ends up being irrelevant (Warner).
The above point on laziness is also emphasized by George and Odgers who explains that technology has also encroached on the way we approach intimate relationships. As technology strives to bring people together for the need of collaboration for future growth and development, it is also taking away our vulnerability in relationships. Social apps allow us to put on a mask of bravery because they take away the element of human interaction on a personal level and this makes us hide our true personalities and vulnerable sides (Xue). As this is the downfall, the benefit is that the society becomes more focus on achieving diverse growth thus shifting our attitudes towards each other as we all need to work together.
Teens are the best example of a culturally united population as they appear to be the least discriminative to each other given a person’s background. As technology drives for economic knowledge and togetherness (Ogilvy and Shanghai), it is also influencing teens to have a universal culture which is a good thing at the expense of showing true vulnerability which is important as well. As such, there appears to be a balance when technology promotes laziness in different ways but also encourages social cohesion, understanding, and tolerance; furthermore fostering economic growth.
Lastly, it can be explained that technology is shaping out the attitude and culture that teens are adapting into. This is because they are spending more time using technology devices than having human interactions and as such, the previous shapes their attitudes about life. Technology accessibility has its positives and negatives in the message they deliver to our children (National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation). This is perhaps one of the reasons as to why teens have a specific body type image that they consider to be ideal and acceptable thus the lower self-esteem witnessed in those that do not meet this criterion. Technology has its way of developing positive attitudes in teens but it can encourage negative behavior as peer pressure and online bullying still gets to happen through it (Gardner and Davis)

3. Summary/Conclusion

In conclusion, the literature review as discussed above highlights different ways through which technology affects teenagers. The most important factors being an addiction, safety concerns, social and academic connectivity, a way of life and shaping their attitudes and culture. From the findings, there are both positives and negatives and as such, it is important to say that technology is not that bad. The information as identified is keen in explaining the impact of technology with limited solutions to the problem area. Only a handful of the reviewed literature discusses ways that parents and teachers can help curb the negative effects. There is, therefore, a gap in not only the most effective way of dealing with the problem but also how the aforementioned impacts will affect shape the relationship we have with technology in the future. As a result, there is the need to research on more effective ways of either preventing or addressing the negative effects of technology on teens.
From a personal viewpoint, I would like to propose my own final research question that addresses teens’ obsession with technology, the impact that technology has on their lives and most importantly, what future there is with technology. Basically, given the current interactions that we, and especially the teens are experiencing with technology, can we deduct that the future relationship between the two elements will prove to be more beneficial or negative? This will help fill the gap from the current literature as available that does not seem to effectively address and answer this problem. As a result, I do believe that the research will help readers to understand the impact of technology in our lives thus being more aware of how much we allow for it to control our current and future lives.

Works Cited

George, Madeleine and Candice Odgers. “ The risks and rewards of being an adolescent in the digital age.” American Psychological Association, Dec 2014, http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2014/12/digital-age.aspx
Johnson, Chandra. “Effects of technology on teens are not all doom and gloom.” Desert News Entertainment. 11 Aug 2015 http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865634141/Effects-of-technology-on-teens-are-not-all-doom-and-gloom.html
Lenhart, Amanda. “Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.” Pew Research Center, 2 Apr. 2015, http://pewrsr.ch/1NaUOUU.
National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. “Impact of Media and Technology on Youth.” Preventtogether.org, 2013, http://www.preventtogether.org/Resources/Documents/Impact%20of%20Media%20and%20Technology%20on%20Youth%202013.pdf
Ogilvy, Kunal and Mather Shanghai. “The future of technology and its impact on our lives.” WPP, Apr 11, 2005, http://www.wpp.com/wpp/marketing/digital/the-future-of-technology/
Postman, Neil. "Informing ourselves to death." Speech at the German Informatics Society 11 (1990).
Vanderhoven, Ellen, et al. “How Safe Do Teenagers Behave on Facebook? An Observational Study.” PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 8, 2014, p. e104036.
Wallace, Kelly. “50% of teens feel addicted to their phones, poll says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 July 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/05/03/health/teens-cell-phone-addiction-parents. Accessed 25 Apr. 2017.
Warner, Heather. “How technology is affecting kids socially and academically.” Fox 43, 3 Feb 2015, http://fox43.com/2015/02/03/how-technology-is-affecting-kids-socially-and-academically/
Xue, Katherine. “Is there an App for that?.” Harvard Magazine, Nov-Dec 2013, http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/11/is-there-an-app-for-that

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