It is believed that the 21st century is the time for constant innovations and, as a result, modern people are different from those of the twentieth century. Nowadays, there are two opposite points of view on technologies and their impact on human beings. Some people believe that technologies are the only way to save life on Earth. Others argue that the world of TV, the Internet, and social media, in particular, is harmful and leads to addiction. There is no doubt that the new generation of people is affected by computers and other technologies. Still, an interaction between contemporary children and technologies is similar to the one that took place at the beginning of the 20th century, when the cinematographic industry was born, or to the development of mass literature. Computers affect people, but the responsibility lies on each user’s shoulders.
While speaking of any addiction, it is necessary to be sure that this issue is actually all-encompassing. Hanna Rosin, the author of the article “The Touch-Screen Generation,” has described both positive and negative views on children’s ability to learn through tablets. According to Rosin, some experts define excessive video gaming as a real problem, and still, they are not sure that this activity is an addiction (499). Moreover, such an issue can be applied to “a small portion of the population” only (Rosin 499). Of course, there are people whose personality is of an addictive kind, but this fact has no direct correlation with the influence technologies may have. Those people described by Claire Suddath in the article “Digital Detox: A Tech-Free Retreat for Internet Addicts,” are an exception rather than a widespread dangerous pattern. The author states that people come to Digital Detox, “a three-day retreat at Shambhala Ranch” (Suddath 500), for a variety of reasons. Those people blame the Internet for their mental conditions as they believe that they are “driven to distraction by the Internet” (Suddath 500). What important to mention here is that people are not ready to take responsibility for their own behavior and state. Moreover, they need special rules and restrictions to be implemented. No one would blame cars for killing people in the accidents. The Internet and computers are just the instruments, whose nature is similar to other improvements, invented by people.
Obviously, the existence of technologies and social media affects the ways people see the world and interact with each other. In the same way, 20 years ago people learned from an American television sitcom called Friends to build relationships with each other, and just 100 years ago they picked up the same information from the books. Some people argue that social media has killed the concept of friendship and made the relationships more superficial. On the other hand, Curtis Silver, the author of the article “The Quagmire of Social Media Friendships,” believes that users bring the people in their networks up to “a higher sociological level” in their brains while putting their own lives online, as they feel that they become familiar with each other (446). There is nothing harmful in being connected with other people unless such a connection is overestimated. In simple words, if someone loses the sense of what true friendship is, it will be a personal mental problem, not a general issue. Also, the one should take into account the fact that friendship is a sociocultural phenomenon. As long as society is flexible and diversified, its concepts may change. One of the people mentioned in Suddath’s article states that it is “easier to say something mean in a text than watching someone’s face when you say it” (500). It is clear that such a communication is a matter of personal choice.
Although computers and technologies do not control the way people live their lives, these innovations can still influence the way children learn. Moreover, new ways of getting knowledge are the only valuable difference between the generation affected by computers and those people who learned from books. Rosin states that American parents are becoming more concerned about what technology might be doing to their children (485). The technology itself, however, is just an instrument. The only way computers and the Internet may be harmful to children is when their parents are thoughtless and irresponsible. As stated by Rosin, every new technology is usually condemned as a threat to young people, including pulp novels, TV, video games, and so on (498), and still, children may learn new words and even languages through their tablets. Nowadays, most children are fluent in the concepts connected with computers and other technologies, whereas their parents are struggling to handle the same things sometimes. Therefore, most concerns are caused by parents’ prejudices rather than real dangers. If the one knows how to ride a bike, they will not go by foot pushing a bicycle with their hands anymore. It would be strange to ignore technologies considering their doubtless benefits.
Although people of different generations are not completely the same, they still share certain patterns of behavior and interaction. While blaming technologies for changing such concepts as friendship or intimacy, people forget to take into account their own actions and decisions. Such authors as Silver or Suddath show that the misuse of social media and the Internet may be harmful. Still, the arguments expressed by Rosin appear to be stronger, as the author refers to the objective factors, based on the ideas of personal responsibility and rational consumption of technologies. Computers have affected this generation, but only because they were allowed to do so.
- Rosin, Hanna. “The Touch-Screen Generation.” Acting Out Culture: Readings for Critical Inquiry, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 484-499.
- Silver, Curtis. “The Quagmire of Social Media Friendships.” Acting Out Culture: Readings for Critical Inquiry, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 444-447.
- Suddath, Claire. “Digital Detox: A Tech-Free Retreat for Internet Addicts.” Acting Out Culture: Readings for Critical Inquiry, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 500-503.