April 15, 2021
My kids tell me that I am old. But I think that I have been fortunate to have grown up from the beginning and all throughout the Technology Age. From Pong to personal computers to cell phones and finally where we are now, smart phones and tablets, not to mention the rise of the internet and the games, social media sites and unlimited access to information. The advances in technology have been breathtaking and quick.
Many people of my generation have a unique perspective as we know what life was like before the explosive growth of technology and have had to adapt to it in school and the workplace. It’s amazing that the typical smart phone can do much more than the early personal computers. Like many people, I embraced the new technology and learned how much that it has streamlined our lives.
My children, niece, nephews and most young people of today have grown in the Technology Age and I have come to realize several things. I firmly believe that the technology cat is out of the bag and we won’t be able to go back in time. I also believe that technology can be a great resource. Businesses would have a hard time functioning without it. Technology has become an integral part of many elementary schools, high schools, colleges and the workplace. Technology has also advanced communication to unimaginable levels.
My wife and I own a foreign language interpreting business and this growth in technology has been very beneficial. We have twenty interpreters who work with us at medical offices in the area. We depend greatly on text messages to communicate and wouldn’t be able to work nearly as efficiently without it. We also use our smart phones and tablets to email longer messages and files when needed. Our phones are also vital to communicate with the medical offices as we spend most of our time out of the office.
We also use the GPS function on our smart phones to help us find offices at new addresses. Our employees also find it a vital function as they sometimes need to interpret at a client’s home.We have also found that the GPS function is very helpful when we travel. Before the rise of GPS, it could be very frustrating to find a hotel address in an unfamiliar city.
The ability to use our phones as information resources by way of the internet is also incredible. I remember not so long ago that I would use a phone book to look up addresses, phone numbers and finding services in the yellow pages. Now, most of that information can be found in my phone. I also remember doing research by going to the library to look up information in encyclopedias and the many reference books found there. Again, much of that information can be found in my phone.
Smart phones and tablets have also taken the place of radios, dvd players, watches, calculators, games, books and many other functions. They have become the Swiss-knives of the technology area and their potential is almost limitless.
With all of these great things that technology can do, my question is: What problems could this awesome growth in technology cause?
Through my personal experience, I have found that the technology has had a negative effect on my communication with other people. Much of my communication is not personal. It is much easier to call someone than to talk to them face to face. This in turn as progressed to the point that it is much easier to text someone rather than call them. It is getting to the point where it is easier to post things to a group of people rather than text individual people. My wife and I have also seen this deterioration of personal communication in general as we have observed many times in restaurants where all the members of a family are on their devices and not interacting.
Within our family, we have seen our children (young adults) interact more and more with technology and less and less with personal interactions with family and friends. This includes not only communication, but actually doing things together. When asking our children to work on a particular project for example, many times our son or daughter will be on their phone and tell us that they will do it later and later doesn’t seem to come. We have noticed that technology can become a huge time-waster. I have noticed personally that I can a lot of time on technology and not accomplish a thing. Am I the only one, or does this happen with other people too?
I have come to truly believe that for most of us, the pace of advances in technology has quickly outpaced our ability to responsibly use it. Use of technology in work and school are greatly beneficial, but in our free time, many people struggle with its use. For me, personal interactions with others has diminished and at times, I really don’t use my time well. I can easily put off responsibilities, stay up too late at night and miss out on quality non-technology time, because of the attraction of the screen. Therefore, my wife and I and to a lesser extent, our children have made a commitment to limiting our use of screens and trying to have a healthy balance between our lives and technology. If you want support in your journey to limiting screen use, check out the Responsible Screens Screen Time App.