I think we have discussed and agreed about all the benefits technology can provide in terms of access to large amounts of information in little to no time. It can also connect us to friends and relatives who are far away. But as with everything else, it needs to be used responsibly. Going through the reading assignments I kept thinking about this issue in terms of how different generations use technology. In Carr’s piece he presents the notion of our brains being rewired by the way we use and relate to technology, mainly the internet. Even though I do see the point of habituation to receiving information as headlines and snippets of writing as a problem long-term if it translates to us not being able to focus on a particular subject long enough to truly immerse in it and create new ideas of our own, I agree with one of the comments on the piece that as adults with more knowledge on the importance of certain activities (e.g. reading literary works) and their consequences, either positive or negative, we have more control over making the right choices. We can choose a healthy balance of reading information online and immersing ourselves in books the old-fashioned way. My concern is directed at young children and how they interact with technology.
I was able to go home over spring break and spend time with my family. I was a little shocked to see how much my niece and nephew have grown but even more shocked when I saw the change in their behavior when given a cell phone or tablet. My niece is six years old and my nephew is two years old; they are both usually very active, always running around while playing, but once they were handed one of these devices the change was almost 180 degrees. It was as if they came with a dose of sedatives as well; they were glued to the screens, almost unresponsive.
I get the benefit or “break” the parents might get from having their otherwise energetic kids be slowed or calmed down by these devices. But what are the lingering consequences of too much indulgence in these types of entertainment? Especially at such a young age when the brain and motor functions are being developed constantly by every interaction with the world around them. I believe Steve Jobs was quoted saying that he would restrict the use of technology by his own children. Even someone who dedicated most of his life to the development and continuous improvement of technology, saw the importance of limiting the use of these devices, of using them responsibly. I don’t know if his concern was more targeted to a specific age range or to the total amount of time any individual is engaged with their electronic devices in a day. Maybe we should consider both. Since technology is moving at a much faster rate than we can properly process or assess its effects, we definitely have an increased responsibility on how we allow kids to interact with this digital media.