Column: We’re hurting ourselves, stop blaming technology

David+City+High+School+students+took+a+survey+regarding+the+ways+they+utilize+technology.+The+results+from+126+students+show+music%2C+socializing%2C+and+homework+as+the+top+three+uses.

Allegra H.

David City High School students took a survey regarding the ways they utilize technology. The results from 126 students show music, socializing, and homework as the top three uses.

Allegra H.

“Q: If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them?

A: I have a device in my pocket that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.”

In looking through my social media the other day, I found this Q&A and it caused me to think. Never before has so much knowledge and understanding been so readily available to us, yet we rarely ever use it. Instead of seizing the great opportunities technology has given us, we continue to hear about the pitfalls of technology.

Teenagers have been bombarded by know-it-all news anchors and nit-picky parents alike who blame technology for negatively impacting students in academic and social activities. But, I nominate a counterproposal. One that technology is not at fault for mediocrity in the classroom and relationships, but that we are at fault for deciding how we use it.

On the academic side of  things, countless studies performed have stated that technology changes students’ brains, harming their writing skills, ability to think critically and overall learning potential as attention spans and motivation to accomplish more difficult tasks decline. Although I’m not questioning the merit of these studies, I am stating that research often convicts the wrong suspect.

Arguably since the invention of the computer, technology has been taking the heat for lack of dedication to education among high school students. However, it’s not so much as technology’s fault, as it is our own for deciding how to use it.

In our age of technology, we can do more than we ever could before in a matter of seconds. Rather than using the Dewey Decimal System to find the proper encyclopedia to answer your question, you can use the Siri system to find the proper (close your eyes teachers) Wikipedia page to give you the quick answer that you seek.

To say that research to enhance our knowledge is the only situation we use our computers and mobile devices for would be a whopping lie. In fact, that may be one of the last things we use our technology for.

This is consistent with the results of a survey that more than 120 David City High School students participated in. Although homework is one of the top reasons we use technology, we rarely research information just for our own benefit.

While we possess devices like laptops and smartphones that could literally access more information than we would ever care to know, we continue to use them for clan warring in one of the top strategy games for mobile devices: Clash of Clans. Or to tweet our life with riveting updates like, “Drank milk from the carton #ThugLife.”

Although our social media and online gaming allow us to connect with friends, our use of technology is also encroaching on our time to enjoy physically being with our friends. Even though we may be socially active in the real world, the amount of time we spend on our mobile devices texting other people who aren’t there or documenting our trip to Applebee’s to show how “awesomely exhilarating” our lives are is taking away from our true, in-person social interactions.

Now, I don’t believe how we use our technology is completely detrimental to our learning and social skills. The ability to use our devices for all that they’re capable of–social media and online gaming included–is, in itself, a skill set, one that companies even yearn to master for advertising purposes.

But even Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.” He did not fear the advancement of technology, he feared what we would choose to do with technology.

Let’s stop incriminating technology for the problems we are creating ourselves. Embracing every aspect of our technology, especially factors that advance our own knowledge, is pertinent to our technological education. I’m not saying we have to completely cut out our hashtag addictions, but at least have the realization that in our pockets are devices that can access a world of information. All we have to do is use it.