Example Of Why Are People Too Dependent On Technology? Essay
Technology and its advances have become an integral part of our life. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, Internet access almost everywhere, etc. seem to have made our life easier and more enjoyable. These technological innovations are indispensable at work and in study; they are means of making friends and finding life partners; they are the things we spend our free time with. It is obvious that technologies are omnipresent and without feeling it we have actually become their slaves. We are so dependent on them that we cannot imagine our life without them. Thus, now these little helpers have so much control over us that we should start being fearful of them.
Such controversial nature of the role technologies play in our lives arouses many questions that are sometimes impossible to answer. On the one hand, technologies are of great help. They make it possible to carry out tasks that will never be put into practice without them: instantaneous calculations, real-mode negotiations with partners located in another part of the world, 3D designs of parts to be produced, and many other complicated tasks. Technological innovations enable doctors and scientists to do more thorough research and develop medicines, equipment, and even human body organs that can save people’s lives.
Technologies have also changed the way we communicate. People have become available 24/7. We are able to contact anyone we want or need any time of day and night, of course, in case they are also, so to say, connected. Besides, we can use technology and digital media to spread our ideas to and share our views with a greater number of people. Julia Beliak notes that "social media removes all distances: geographic, social, hierarchical. You can reach anyone, at any time, and communicate in real time” (Beliak). It seems there are more opportunities to find friends, make contacts, and socialize.
However, for some reason there is more and more concern that technologies are to blame for an increase in stressfulness among people. Technologies do manage to simplify the process of fulfilling tasks; but they also demand we accommodate to that fast rate of work which technologies offer. We are required to do more and at a faster rate which is not always possible for people to accomplish because people are not mechanisms that are never tired. People need rest and they need change of activity. Otherwise, they break down, lose their temper, or get depressed because of their failure to do something on time.
We also greatly rely on technologies as a source of information which is often a tool of doing almost any business and, of course, essential in any study. Technologies make it possible for us to find necessary data without leaving home or office; they let us share these data with others with no effort at all; but they do not always help us process these data to the necessary extent. As a result, we are overloaded with information which we cannon process. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as “inforbesity” (Beliak). Inforbesity is overconsumption of information which we receive but cannot thoroughly understand for the lack of time. It makes us stressed, unhappy, and often paralyzed. Thus, availability of information does not clear the things out to us but confuse us.
People of nowadays are not only information addicted but computer addicted, too. Dependence on computers is easily explained as computers at present are primary working instruments in almost all workplaces – offices, industrial shops, construction sites, department stores, etc. It is not possible to imagine the teaching process without computers, either: assignments are sent and received through e-mail, text-books are often only digital, and standard papers are accepted only in printed/electronic form. Even in kindergartens recent teaching innovations require computers for their implementation. So, from morning till night people have their computers/laptops/tablets switched on and more often than not do not feel the need to “unplug” (Pretty). Thomas Pretty predicts that we will soon start planning our lives around computers. So, computers may transform from helpers into masters, and this is terrifying.
Psychologists and sociologists have already started paying attention to abnormal dependence people display on their devices. Researchers refer to this as “technological addiction” (Isiklar et al. 10). They say it is particularly evident in the use of mobiles which are multifunctional nowadays. The excessive use of mobiles leads to loneliness (people do not meet others personally but are satisfied with talking to them on the phone), anxiety (when there is any obstacle to using a phone or when someone does not call back), sleeping disorders, depression as well as physical symptoms such as headaches and earaches.
However, many people do recognize the fact that they have become too dependent on their electronic and digital friends. Round-the-clock e-mails, non-stop text messaging with friends, and constantly renewed Instagram photos are already usual things. But they are also the things that make people anxious and impatient. It is rather tiring to be always on-line and up-to-date. People realize they cannot focus their attention on the things that are really important. This state of mind makes it impossible to learn and remember things. Besides, what is the use to remember if your digital friend can always serve as a reminder? All this together makes people think that, perhaps, this is time they “get off-line”. So, among New Year’s resolutions shared on Twitter, unplugging digitally comes right after losing weight and quitting smoking (Miller). People are flocking to digital detoxes, screen-free bedrooms, and apps that nudge them off their phones.
The sad thing is that the desire to control this process of being engulfed by technologies usually comes to adults, i.e. those who are mature enough to see and admit the problem, consequently resisting or solving it. But the most vulnerable categories of people who get most addicted and obsessed while having no necessary experience and strength to oppose the psychological and social catastrophe are children, adolescents, and young adults. At present even small children may have mobile phones which they use for different purposes, not only for making or receiving a call from parents or friends but for playing games or taking photos. In 2012, it was estimated that 78% of all Americans aged 12–17 years had a mobile phone and 37% had a smart phone (Nathan and Zeitzer). These devices have become children’s favorite toy that they do not part with even in the company of their friends. Thus, mobiles replace real-life communication and children grow up not knowing how to have a conversation. And what is even more frightening they do not feel they need this ability at all.
Mobiles have also become great distractions in learning. Many students admit they use mobiles during lectures to play games or send text messages to their friends (Elder 585). And even if they employ their phones for some more serious reasons, i.e. to search for extra information in the Internet or to record a lecture, they are distracted from their primary activity – listening to the lecture or doing some other assignment. Researchers call it multi-tasking and claim it decreases the speed of working memory and negatively affects the performance of the primary task (Elder 586). Elder asserts that “although people usually think they are processing various pieces of information simultaneously (e.g., reading and listening to music), they actually only process one type of activity at a time, due to a single-channel central processing area of the human mind, known as, working memory” (Elder 586). So, the possibility of multi-tasking that mobiles provide is especially harmful to children because they cannot correctly identify which activity should be a primary one and usually choose a more relaxing or entertaining one. Parents’ desire to control or limit their children’s use of mobiles often results in conflicts in families and children’s aggressiveness towards their parents. Children seem to love their digital friends more than their own parents.
It somehow happened that digital communication has replaced the real one. Children do not want to play with other children because they feel entertained with their phones or tablets; adults prefer texting to making a call or meeting someone in person. Texting people is now like giving them a hug. Sherry Turkle persists that those little devices that we have in our pockets (i.e. mobiles) do not only change what we do but change what we are (Turkle). People seem to be together but they are not together. They are possessed by their phones. As a result, they feel lonely. But they seek communication not in people around but in their devices that keep them connected, thus, creating an illusion they are interesting to others. People would rather text than talk. It gives them an opportunity to present themselves in the way they want. Besides, there are social networks which have become substitutes for real human companies. As a result, people are becoming incapable of having a real-life conversation.
Sherry Turkle says that at present people expect more from technology and less from each other (Turkle). She believes it is so because technologies appeal to us where we are most vulnerable. We are lonely; but we are afraid of intimacy. Technology creates an illusion of friendship. We are willing to think that all those people in social networks who are ready to talk to us all nights through are our real friends. We believe that having them we will never be alone. The terrible thing is that we do not realize that we are actually alone and all is just an illusion of friendship and of connection. Turkle concludes that we are smitten by technologies. She calls upon us to reconsider both our attitude to technologies and their role in our lives. We should not turn away from our device; we should treat them in a different way. We should learn to rely more on ourselves and on people around rather than on technologies. Virtual romances and commuter games will never be able to replace real life and real communication with friends and family.
So, using technologies to our advantage we should do our best to avoid becoming too dependent on them. It is true that technological innovations were originally aimed at making everybody's life easier. However, for some reason these little things that simplify our everyday life have managed to enslave us. We cannot imagine our life and work without them anymore. They have crept into our social life, too, determining whom we should socialize with, or when we should go to sleep. So, on the one hand, we have technologies that can do many difficult and time-consuming tasks instead of us; but on the other hand, we still live with the biggest scarcity of time because availability of technological advances set new higher standards of life. Therefore, the question remains – Is technology aid or a challenge? The answer, perhaps, is to use technologies to their greatest advantage but not let them lead your life. Focusing on quality rather than quantity can help you derive all benefit possible. One more tip is to remember that people and real-life human interaction should be a priority. Technology is a supplement but not the key thing in our life.
Beliak, Julia. “Is Technology Making Our Lives EasierOr Just Adding More Stress?” Huff Post Teen. The Huffington Post, 21 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Elder, Anastasia D. “College Students’ Cell Phone Use, Beliefs and Effects on Their Learning”. College Student Journal. 47(4): 585-592. Print.
Isiklar, Abdullah, Sar, Ali Haydar, and Mustafa Durmuscelebi. “An Investigation of the Relationship Between High-School Students’ Problematic Mobile Phone Use And Their Self-Esteem Level”. Education. Vol. 134. № 1: 9-14. Print.
Miller, Claire C. “Technology Has Made Life Different, But Not Necessarily More Stressful.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Nathan, Nila, and Jamie Zeitzer. “A Survey Study of the Association between Mobile Phone Use and Daytime Sleepiness in California High School Students”. BMC Public Health. 2013. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Pretty, Thomas. “How Technology Is Affecting Our Lives.” Streetdirectory.com. Streetdirectory, 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Turkle, Sherry. “Connected, But Alone?” TED. TED Conferences, Feb. 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2015.
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