Youth and Technology

October 12, 2011

Uncategorized


Technology over the past few decades has become a large part of today’s society. New forms of technology are constantly being produced and old forms are continuously innovated. One cannot purchase something without a new model coming out shortly after. For example, I bought the iPhone 4 this summer, 3 months later out comes the iPhone 4S. Updated versions of technology are always being released; society tends to upgrade constantly even though their old models were in good condition.

This new obsession with technology is particularly evident in teenage generations. Adults often complain about teens constantly texting, and that text lingo has ruined proper english and grammar skills. Less communication is taking place in person or by talking on the phone as texting becomes more popular. The amount of text messages sent last year increased by 50%; data messaging surpassed voice messaging as well. The average length of a phone call decreased from 2.27 minutes to a mere 1.81 minutes. On average, 1,500 text messages are sent a month per cell phone user. The biggest contributor to this cell phone usage increase is, of course, the teenage generation.

Text messaging is not the only contributor to the increased usage of technology. Many other individuals play video games, spend time on the internet, or go on social networking sites such as Facebook.  These new forms of entertainment have replaced pervious forms that involved social contact such as board games, or even bowling with friends. Once again, the major contributor to the success of these new forms of entertainment is the teenage generation. The association of members of youth with technology and a new dependence on technology has created much controversy regarding the impact of technology on social life.

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, claims that community ties are decreasing as the advancements in technology increase.  He believes that society is becoming individualized as more members gain interest in technology; this in turn lessens social capital, which is crucial in a vibrant democracy. He accredits the lack of social contact to the fact people are always using a form of technology, whether it is watching television, playing video games, or text messaging, rather than having personal contact with members of their society.

While technology has seemed to decrease in physical social contact, it has increased social contact in other ways. It is no longer necessary to write a letter to someone you cannot see in person in order to tell them information. Modern technology has allowed for many other ways of communication other then face to face.  Users of technology can chat online, send text messages or emails to each other, as well as chat with others while playing a video game online. Because of advancements in technology, there is now the ability to instantaneously communicate with others from all over the world. This ability has created a form of global interconnectedness.

While social contact still exists, what has this done to social capital, or the organizations and networks that create cooperation in a democracy? Has technology destroyed a sense of community or has it strengthened these bonds?

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23 Comments on “Youth and Technology”

  1. emmaschneider11 Says:

    It is true that technology has reduced face to face social contact, but I don’t think it is true that it has reduced social capital. New technologies have not eliminated opportunities for social contact, but rather it has created new ones. Social situations involving in person meeting may be on the decline, but communication through technology is greater than ever. There is no longer as much need for communicating in an in-person group setting because there is now the ability through facebook, blogging, online news, etc. to share ideas with a larger and more culturally and geographically diverse group of people.

    I feel that technology has increased social capital in some situations. There was the idea that the uprisings in Libya and Egypt were in some ways fueled by access to new ideas that were available to the masses through new technological forms of communication. People were sharing ideas and coming together over these ideas with the use of technology aiding the spread.

    In my opinion the reduction in social capital in the United States is due not to changing technology, but to changing values. Take, for example, the reduction in the PTA that is mentioned in “Bowling Alone”. There is certainly more opportunities or ways to get involved now than in the past with this and other organizations, so the only reason I can see for less people getting involved is less people caring. In the case of decreased voter turnout the same concept applies. It is very easy to get online and look up candidates and policies and inform yourself of voting options. People are not voting less because technology has separated them from their rights/duties as a citizen, because it has in fact aided them. They are voting less because they value the right less. A change in priorities has reduced social capital.

  2. chadmach Says:

    I think that there are definitely instances in which technology has hurt the social contact around us but has also definitely increased our contact with others that are not in our immediate area. No doubt things like Facebook has increased our contact with friends, business partners, etc. etc. that may be long distances away from us. But what about our contact with our immediate surrounding? On Tuesday, Professor LaVaque-Manty shared with us the comments of the filmmakers that were here on campus and how they noticed that kids are always looking at their phones to text. When we stand around outside classrooms waiting for class to start, most of everyone is either on their phone or their ipod. How many conversations with our fellow classmates do you think we have missed out on by isolating ourselves like that? We could be having heated debates or casual talks, but instead we have cut ourselves off from the immediate world and have transplanted ourselves into a another place. Technology surely has its benefits when it comes to sharing ideas and connecting to people we may have never met before, but I do still think that it is important to keep in touch with our immediate surroundings and those that occupy it…and keeping in touch does not mean Facebook stalking the person sitting in front of you in lecture.

    On the comment above, I think that it may boil down to more than just valuing something less. It is possible that there has been such a decline in voting and participation in government because citizens no longer believe in the way that things are being run. They may also see that even voting does not seem to change the way people are in politics so the only thing they can do is protest what is going on by not voting or participating.

  3. srbarron Says:

    The quickness of technological advancements and new models does keep people eager for more which keeps the economy moving. When consumers anticipate a new and improved model, they rush to store often driving the company’s stock up. However, when a company hypes up their product to be that much better than the previous generation and disappoints it’s costumers, a severe decline in purchasing eagerness and stocks is seen. In the iPhone example, many anticipated the unveiling of the iPhone 5, and when that didn’t come, consumers did not feel the desire as much to buy the middle step between the old iPhone 4 and the eventual iPhone 5. When the iPhone 4S debuted, instead of a major increase in stock price, Apple instead faced a decline http://www.intomobile.com/2011/10/05/apple-stock-drops-5-after-iphone-4s-announcement/.

    As much of an impact technology has on the economy, they have an even bigger effect on social society. As mentioned previously, we now use technology to connect with those around the world in a much faster and more convenient way than ever before. Technology allows us to contact a childhood friend who has moved to another continent, or make a business deal at the palm of our hands. As much as technology has simplified the world and allowed bonds between friends to remain, it is true that technology has its negatives aspects as well. I don’t believe that it is eliminating social connections and friends for children, however I do think increased technology and computer use is contributing to obesity and unhealthiness in children and teens.

    Although it seems like a far stretch to relate technology to health risks, new innovations have limited the amount of exercise and fresh air children are exposed to. In our parent’s generation, it was common for kids to play outside together after school and only go inside when it was time to eat dinner; however, in our generation, we connect with our friends via Facebook and Skype and only leave the computer for meal time. The change in technology is contributing to culture and activity levels.

  4. blakesimons Says:

    Rather than destroying community, technology, in my opinion, has done quite the opposite. The argument can indeed be made that community ties are decreasing as the advancements in technology increase, as Putnam claims; however, technology has the power to connect communities in ways never imagined before. Society has become connected and intertwined immensely, as the internet and other resources have created a web of interlocked ideas and a basis for moving forward. Expanding this argument, the true effect and importance of technology lies in its ability to drive society forward and to cause communities to advance. Rather than reducing social capital, technology has truly had a positive effect increasing social capital.

    While these ideas may refute the premise of Bowling Alone, I believe that Putnam is essentially wrong when stating that technological advancements have decreased community ties and furthermore, lessened social capital. Take this blog for example. Blogging is a relatively new advancement as a cause of technological expansion over the past decade. Has this blog reduced social capital or decreased our ties as a community? Absolutely not. This blog, as much of technology does, has created ties among our political science class here at the University of Michigan. It has created ties among a community.

    Obviously, I’m not attempting to say that there are no negative externalities that come along with technology. There are clear problems that are caused with technology, such as a large reduction of face-to-face communication. Any negativity that can be found as a result of technology, however, cannot overcome the immense benefits that technological advancements bring to society. Implying that technology reduces social ties is a clear contradiction to the truth. Social capital, meanwhile, may be decreasing, but in no way can this reduction be attributed to the advancements of technology. The positivity and connections that come along with technology result in a beneficial outcome for social capital.

  5. mjgeis Says:

    I was very worried a while back about leaving all of my friends to come to college. I was freaked out that our friendships would deteriorate and that we would lose touch, but I had my perspective righted by my mom. She told me about how when she went to college, it was very difficult to stay in touch with people from home, but now we have text messaging and Facebook which allows us to quickly communicate with friends that could be hundreds of miles away. And it’s completely true: we have an immense advantage over our parents’ generation when it comes to maintaining long distance relationships.

    In economics, you learn that everything has a trade-off. I feel that with the large upsurge in technological forms of communication and entertainment, we sacrifice a portion of our ability to maintain close-distance relationships; some would argue that people’s skill for face-to-face conversation has diminished since text messaging is such an easy alternative. But we gain a vast amount of ability in maintaining long-distance relationships. If someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend on a study-abroad trip in China, they don’t have to go more than a day without seeing each other’s faces–not since the advent of Skype, anyway.

    I’d say that this is an immensely valuable trade-off. A lot of people will sanctimoniously sing the praises of face-to-face interaction and are quick to condemn things like text messages and Facebook (you’ll notice these people tend to overuse the phrase “Kids these days”). But I feel like the condemnation of these revolutionary technologies is nothing short of foolish. Change happens, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. So, it’s really just a question of whether or not someone chooses to embrace it. By resisting it, naysayers will find themselves far behind the curve, and by embracing it, supporters will find themselves engaging in a network that will increase the influence they have on the rest of the world.

    Technology connects the world, and this can only serve to increase cosmopolitanism. Appiah must be overjoyed at the increase in technological forms of communication, because it leads to relationships being formed outside of one’s “safe” geographical region. This causes people to have concern for other parts of the world, because they may be in communication with friends, family, acquaintances, or colleagues in these parts of the world. Technology encourages engagement with worldwide issues, and this can only serve to increase the general welfare of mankind.

  6. hannahlevitt Says:

    Although technology has arguably decreased face-to-face social contact, it has strengthened the bonds of community on a global level. The sharing of ideas as made possible by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs such as this one, and infinitely more sources has been crucial to the spreading of ideas in recent years. How do we know? Look at the nations that have banned such social media. For example, Facebook has been blocked in numerous countries around the world, including China, Iran, and Pakistan. In some nations, the justification for the ban was that Facebook allowed for the spreading of anti-Islamic ideas. These nations failed to recognize that it’s not that Facebook allows for the spreading of anti-Islamic ideas; it allows the spreading of ALL ideas. The spreading of any and all ideas on a global level has created community bonds between people who never would have come into contact otherwise. It is this fact that leads me to disagree with Putnam’s claims that community ties are decreasing with the increase of technology.

    The increase in technology that is causing people to spend more time alone is creating more of a sense of individualism while simultaneously promoting toleration. Toleration as explained by John Locke allows people to have their own opinions while still exposing them to the opinions of others. There is nothing that better promotes toleration than the increase in technology–spending more time by themselves allows people to figure out their own opinions (whether that is actually what they are doing is up for debate), but the prevalence of social media and the spreading of ideas exposes people to the ideas and opinions of others.

    Forming their one’s opinions while still dealing with the opinions of others, and possibly even taking the other opinions into account to better one’s own opinion, is what toleration is all about. The recent increase in technology has strengthened the bonds of the community while promoting toleration thus far, and it will be interesting to see how future increases in technology affect societal interactions.

  7. cbeidler Says:

    Just like mjgeis mentioned in the above comment, my main concern about college used to be that I would lose touch with my closest friends. We were all leaving eastern Pennsylvania and going our very separate ways: one of us was heading to Missouri, another to Georgia, one to Ohio, and me, to Michigan. However, despite the hundreds of miles that separate us for months on end, I am able to communicate with them every day through our new technology. A quick text here, “liking” their new Facebook profile picture there, and a little phone conversation in between goes a long way in maintaining long distance relationships.

    However, the affects of technology on community, whether positive or negative, depend entirely on the user. As we read in “Bowling Alone”, there has been a great increase in the number of support groups found in communities. Thanks to the internet, it is easy to find other people struggling with the same type of problems. At first glance, this sounds as though technology is increasing a sense of community. Yet, Putnam points out that “Some small groups merely provide occasions for individuals to focus on themselves in the presence of others. The social contract binding members together asserts only the weakest of obligations. Come if you have time. Talk if you feel like it. Respect everyone’s opinion. Never criticize. Leave quietly if you become dissatisfied. . . ” This is not to put down support groups, rather, I found it interesting the self-serving nature Putnam chose to focus on.

    When my parents finally let me have a cell phone at the age of 14 (AGES after all my friends had gotten them!), I couldn’t understand why they considered it so rude to text someone while in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone else. Six years later, I can understand. If you watch people in our generation out to dinner, at a party, in group meetings, it really is staggering how many of us spend much of that time buried in our cell phones. Our minds are rarely ever 100% involved in the community we are physically in at any given time. Rather, we’re spending much of our time wrapped up in several other virtual communities.

    For all the negative affects, technology can really do great things to strengthen community bonds. Our long distance relationships are easier to maintain. Technology allows us to quickly find people interested in the same areas we are and form friendships. And just as blakesimons pointed out, look at this blog! Despite being apart of such a large class, we are able to form our own community where everyone’s voice can be heard if they choose to present their opinions. Bottom line? We just have to be careful how we implement our technology uses. Rather than use it to isolate ourselves, technology needs to be used to encourage public conversation and the exchange of ideas.

  8. frances23 Says:

    Although recent technology seems to have decreased society’s physical contact with one another, I believe that it has a more positive affect on today’s society. I definitely do not agree that it has destroyed our sense of community, but rather strengthened it for the better. Business men in Hong Kong, are now able to video chat, or Facetime with their business partners who may live a whole day ahead of them. School teachers are able to give lectures over the web, while LIVE streaming the lesson. Not only will technology change the world, but it will do so in a very positive way.

    There is no doubt about it, that the types of relationships one can form using this new technology will be just as strong and meaningful as one made without it. People tend to believe that sitting on your phone, staring at a screen, is a waste and unproductive, where in fact that time spent “waiting for a class to begin” could be used reading the latest news reports, or quickly reviewing a document saved on your home computer (that you now have access to through iCloud, thanks to Apple!)

    In my opinion, Robert Putnum has it all wrong. Community ties are strengthening; just look at what Facebook can do for you now. Before this social networking site was available, childhood friends most often lost touch with one other after high school. Now, you are able to keep those friendships and stay up to date with everyone’s happenings, which in turn could help you keep those friendships and even strengthen those bonds that may turn into partnerships for years to come. Just look at its name, social NETWORKING. How could meeting more people be a negative thing?

    Other positives of this recent burst in technology–take the iPad for instance–include enormous educative possibilities and opportunities. I have seen a 1-year-old first had use an iPad, all by himself, touching the right apps for videos, learning games, even to UNLOCK the device. Although some might find the constant use of technology, like an iPad, to be hindering the normal, “old school” way of learning, I find it to be extremely innovative and helpful on an entirely different level.

    So if you look at it like that, technology has made the world a better, more efficient place.

  9. sbsmoler92692 Says:

    I happen to agree, in that I truly do believe that the rise of technology throughout the past decade has slowly caused a decrease in social capital. I think the most evidence for technology diminishing social capital over the years, can be seen within the generational gap between my parents, grandparents, and my younger 16-year old brother and I. Besides the fact that my grandparents barely know how to use their phone or answer it when it rings, let alone text, they just do not see the same point of a cell phone that my brother and I see it for. While my brother, friends, and I all use our phone many times a day to interact with one another, surf the web, and make phone calls, my grandparents see it as only for “emergencies.” Both my parents and grandparents find it extremely rude and impolite etiquitte to use the phone during meals, and when they are trying to talk to us, or interact with us in person. While the phone and ipads, ipods, and computers are all great innovative technologies that help us maintain long distance relationships and friendships, it also diminishes the interpersonal relationships people have with each other, in person. The ways in which technology is viewed, as important or deemed superfluous in its varying functions, is completely generational. While the younger generations such as students are very much on top of technology and always updating to the next best thing, many members of the older generational subset find the technology to be confusing and unnecessary in its function, since they did not grow up with this per say. I additionally believe that this has caused a technological divide between the generations, in addition to the generational gap that is always present between the older and younger members of society. The rise of technology has not only split up the social capital within this democracy, but caused a further generational divide. Therefore, I would argue that technology has destroyed the sense of community between the younger and older generations as they interact with each other. However, technology and its various uses has helped to unite the younger generations to always be in constant contact with one another, which can strengthen social capital amongst each other. Therefore, it is unlikely that you can take a clear stance on this matter, because it is good for some younger people, and viewed as rude, superfluous and unnecessary to older people. Therefore, the argument can be presented in both directions depending on which generation you are referring to.

  10. guysnick Says:

    I believe this is an extremely relevant issue for the current situation of our times. It cannot be denied that new advancements in technology over the past decade – including Facebook, enhanced text messaging, Skype, smart phones, iPods, and iPads – have definitely caused people, particularly teenagers, to become more reclusive and less involved in face-to-face conversations. If you simply walk across the Diag here at the University of Michigan, you will see that most people are either texting, utilizing some application on their smart phones, or playing around with their iPods. Technology certainly has a great influence over much of our lives and the way we think and act. It can be argued that such technology has made people less confident public speakers, less adept in job interviewers, and less skilled in working with a team.

    But technology has also been very beneficial in a variety of ways. I believe that although it has surely caused some people to shy away from face-to-face contact with others and has possibly damaged the social skills of those who spend all of their time on Facebook or Xbox LIVE, for example, technology has also allowed people to keep in touch with old friends and get in contact with new ones. Many people have mentioned that Facebook and texting have allowed them to stay connected with high school and hometown friends while attending college across the country. This is certainly one benefit of 21st century technology. Additionally, technology has allowed modern universities to expand the learning environment beyond the physical classroom. This blog is just one small example. We the users are not actually speaking with each other in person, but we are still communicating our views and ideas and at the same time learning from one another. This is another example of how technology has been beneficial. Furthermore, CTools, LectureTools, and the endless technological advancements of this university and many others have allowed the modern student to get much more out of his or her education. Today’s technology certainly has its pros and cons, but I believe its benefits definitely outweigh its downfalls.

    Finally, I believe that modern technology has definitely played a role in strengthening a sense of community among certain groups. One recent example is the way in which information spread across the Middle East this past Spring, as revolts spread across the region. Gaddafi’s regime even had to temporarily shut down internet and cell phone access in order to prevent the Egyptian public from organizing via social networking sites and text messages. This is evidence of the magnitude of the technology of today, and it will only continue to advance in the future.

  11. erfreed3 Says:

    Technology has significance in everyday of our lives. Let’s face it, a world without technology, would be a completely different world. Our dependence on the Internet, cellular phones, iPods, GPS, etc. have changed the way we think and operate in this world. Whether it is good for society or not remains to be seen. Personally, I believe technology has had both positive and negative effects on our society. For example, the Internet has brought with it social networking sites such as Facebook, which in turn have made it easier to organize social gatherings, advertise, and in general communicate with others. Yet, I would argue just because the Internet has made it EASIER to communicate does not mean it has made it BETTER. Think about, nowadays if we want to get into contact with a person we simply send an email. In this way, I believe the Internet, a form of technology, has hindered social ties.

    Cellular phones have done potentially more damage. In theory, a cell phone is a good thing. It is useful in emergencies, staying in contact with family and friends, and many other scenarios. Talking on the phone, like the Internet, makes it easier to organize, however, unlike the Internet; it provides a more authentic interaction. Texting, on the other hand does the complete opposite. First off, while it may be useful in contacting a person in a situation in which a phone call is inappropriate, it also provides a shortcut, which in turn limits human interaction. To continue, texting allows a person’s “tone” to be taken the wrong way. In this way, unnecessary fighting may result between individuals. The main point is that texting is not face-to-face, it is easier but not better. So while technology has provided for an easier way to communicate within social networks and organizations, it is not necessarily more effective. The evidence that Robert Putnam presents in “Bowling Alone” only suggests that technology has indeed had a negative effect on our society.

  12. bmauto21 Says:

    When reading this blog, one can not help but think of the recent passing of innovator and inventor Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Co., was possibly one of the inventors that revolutionized social interaction. It was him who created the iPhone (probably the most revolutionary devices of our generation) and not only invented something but innovated the cell phone for good and for always. He introduced apps and other parts of using a cell phone that no one thought of before. I would say that because of him, cell phones are no longer just used as phones, but as entertainment, business, internet, and many other conveniences that are very useful to have in ones own pocket. There are even college classes that teach people how to create an app and market it. This has created new businesses and better job opportunities.

  13. hjclec Says:

    I think that new technology isn’t decreasing the level of social capital, but instead is creating a new medium for social capital to develop. In essence, I believe the way to obtain social capital has evolved.

    Technology has not destroyed the sense of community, but has made a sense of community more attainable. For example, my dad depends strongly on technology to develop a community type environment in his workplace. He works with people that live all over the country, and the only way they can have meetings is with a telephone conference call. In this conference call they are coming together, and deciding on issues together, to stay united as a team. Before the use of technology, my dad wouldn’t have been able to create this type of community within the workplace.

    Cooperation in a community can be developed without face-to-face contact. For example on Facebook one can send out messages or create an event page to help plan an event. Just last week I was trying to organize a surprise birthday party for my friend and I had to use Facebook to do this. On Facebook my friends and I cooperated to make the birthday surprise the best we could. We each tossed out our ideas of what to do, and the idea that received the most attention was used.

    Technology has changed our world, and I believe for the better. Many more communities can be developed through technology, and a sense of cooperation can still be established through technology. Although face-to-face contact is decreased with modern day technology, people are clearly still finding ways to work together.

    If democracy is failing, then I don’t think technology is to blame.

  14. tchung22 Says:

    New technologies have strengthened the sense of community. As time goes on, our world has become more and more cosmopolitan. Ideas have spread from one region to another made possible by the advancements in technology we have experienced over the past generation. In Putnam’s argument for the decline of social capital due to technology, several other aspects of the issue are ignored.

    Putnam claims that community ties are weakening due to the increase of technology and media, using “bowling alone” rather than joining bowling leagues as an example. However, his argument is weak because who is to say they don’t have a set group of friends they bowl with every time? Who can say if they’re actually bowling alone? Additionally, his counterargument against support groups seems fallible. He says that these groups only provide occasions for individuals to focus on themselves in the presence of others. However, he does not offer any experiential evidence to back his claims and is merely stating his opinion. There is a great sense of community in support groups and they exist to help members with similar experiences and problems get through their issues together, strengthening their relationships with one another. Putnam ignores this point completely, instead writing, “Leave quietly if you become dissatisfied.” Sure, people dissatisfied with the support group can leave whenever they want, but those that stay are part of that community and are building relationships with one another.

    Additionally, Putnam ignores other communities that have developed because of technology. How about scientists that can now work together across the world made possible by technology? They are a community that works together and helps each other on their work for the greater good of mankind. Additionally, technology has allowed the creation of various online communities through the internet. Social media including forums, Facebook, and others have allowed people with certain viewpoints or similar interests to congregate and form a community. Who can say whether these communities are worse, better, or just different than what past generations were used to?

    Technology has not hurt our sense of community nor our social capital, but has rather changed the ways of communication. Advancements have allowed individuals to communicate across the world, spreading various viewpoints, expanding social circles, and allowing the formation of various communities. Nowadays, people can communicate with others worldwide, and this has helped our world become more cosmopolitan.

  15. brianfrankel Says:

    I agree that technology has had a profound effect on communication and has certainly harmed our interpersonal skills. The sense of community that was once so significant throughout the world and in the United States in particular seems to be slowly deteriorating. Cellphones and the Internet have allowed us to express ourselves to others indirectly. By indirectly, I mean a lack of personal touch and personal accountability. We can type on our laptops and phones, taking all the time in the world to formulate a perfect response or comment, which I believe does seriously harm our ability to interact face to face.

    On the other hand, I believe that technology has created a profoundly new type of connection–a sense of global community. It may not be as personal we like, but cellphones and the Internet have bridged the geographical gap like never before. Whereas thirty years ago someone may have had friends only in their hometown while growing up, now teenagers across the world have friends all across the world.

    So while technology might be destroying one aspect of community, it is building another one that the world has never seen before. In my opinion, I don’t think that can be called a bad thing. Instead–while it may be cliche–it is just further proof that technology is truly a revolution.

  16. dannilevin9492 Says:

    Technology in our community today is quite complex, especially in the way it has affected our society. Most people see the world today as technologically advanced, which it is: using technology to accomplish almost anything. And, on the surface this has greatly impacted society. Technology has allowed for efficiency for it gets jobs done in half the time. It has also allowed for people to reconnect and keep in touch no matter location. This specific advantage of technology creates a whole new side of networking that has never existed before. And, as many may or may not know, networking is one of the most essential aspects to success. The more people you know and have connections with, the more opportunities available; life is political in that sense. So, with the introduction of several social networking sites such as Facebook and Linked-In, people along with corporations have much more access to resources.

    However, because technology is seen as such an amazing concept in society today, people often overlook its negative side effects. As clearly analyzed above through the statistics, human communication has diminished as a response to technology. People in society rely heavily on text messages and email. In fact, just yesterday I witnessed two different acts that sum up the negative effect technology has had on us as social human beings:

    The first situation involves a boy and a girl on a date. Both of them were sitting across from each other at the table waiting for their food. While they should be conversing, and wanting to converse because they are clearly on a date for a reason, they were both fixated by their telephones that rested on both of their laps. For the duration of the time I was watching them, their heads were down, mouths were shut, and both of them were either texting or looking something up on their smart phones. It was as if the two did not enjoy each other’s company at all to the point where they almost forgot the other existed, they were too involved with what their cell phone had to say. The most important part of relationships lie within the communication aspect. However, technology today has forced us as humans to struggle with confrontation and face-to-face discussion, which is clearly seen through this example.

    The second situation involves a girl who is afraid to be confronted by one of her friends for something she did wrong. She ignores all her phone calls but answers all her texts from this certain friend. When I told her to just answer the phone and have a civil discussion, she responded by saying something along the lines of “I’m too afraid to talk on the phone (not even in person) because I might be in a position where I have to respond right away.” This example represents how text messaging has created a wall that allows us to word what we want to say in a particular manner that may help us instead of share the simple truth. In a way it stunts us from being free-spirits for it forces us to be careful with our word choice. It inevitably harms us from thinking on our toes and being able to answer questions on the spot, which is an important aspect in life (especially when it comes to things like interviews).

    While both of these circumstances differ from one another they both express negative connotations of technology. Technology, especially cell phones, has diminished our ability as human beings to socialize in the way that we once were able to. Simply from the way we interact with our friends and even loved ones to other essentials necessary for life, technology has almost created a scape-goat. It has created an easy way out of tackling situations that we face on a daily basis.

  17. bmjasper Says:

    Texting is going to destroy our interpersonal communication skills. Although it is faster than calling someone, and promotes instantaneous communication, experts are now saying that texting has caused a decline in spelling, word choice, and grammar. In addition, experts have suggested that our generation of avid “texters” may have an inability to focus in real-time conversations with people because we are becoming accustomed to having multiple conversations at once. Texting also allows one ample time to formulate the proper response as opposed to instantly spitting one out.

    Our generation’s decrease in face-to-face conversations may really harm us socially in the long-run. Texting is the most impersonal way of communicating. Furthermore, communication via texts completely disregards socializing aspects which were once highly valuable. For instance, texting eliminates the need to read body language and tone of voice. The ability to do so is an extremely valuable skill regarding interpersonal communication. And since we are less exposed to face-to-face communication, we will be less experienced than previous generations when it comes to social skills. The sad, but honest truth is that texting will be the reason why our generation will be the most awkward generation yet.

  18. mfriedlander92 Says:

    Technology has helped our generation tremendously and harmed us in many ways. It is true that technology has created ways of communication that people would have never thought of. If you are traveling and home sick you can just Skype your family or if you need information fast you can just Google the answer you are looking for. Technology has created a society where everything is at our fingertips. You can contact people across countries, look up information from databases world-wide, and you can talk to people you will never ever meet.

    Technology has allowed people to create social ties with people in different parts of the world that they might never meet. It has been great for companies, especially if they are talking to people from across the world that they need to do business deals with. Social networking online has allowed people to get in contact with people they could have never found before that share common interests with them or might help them out in the future.

    Technology creates a whole different world, like a cyberworld. Everything is online and easily accessible. Simply by using Google you can find someone you used to go to high school with and get back in contact. Technology does amazing things. Like snail mail is no longer necessary, it is now used for bills (if you haven’t switched to e-bills yet) or the nostalgia you get from receiving letters.

    However, this world technology has created has its downfalls too. It allows people to have less person to person interaction so many people in the teenage generation and younger will have worse communication skills. They will not know how to communicate with adults because you don’t need to call your friend’s landline (OMG WHAT’S A LANDLINE?) and ask if you can speak with them, because you can just text them. You don’t need to go in and ask a teacher for an extension personally, you can just send them an email.

    It is nice to have a generation that is so tech-savvy, but it has so many downfalls. Also the level of communication of the upcoming generations is declining. Why would you need to know how to spell if your phone autocorrects if it for you? Why do you need to learn how to write cursive if you are just going to type things out anyways? Wat iz wrong w. typin lyk dis?

    Technology has helped and harmed our society (and generations) in many ways. It has made communication and finding information instantaneous but it has also put less of an emphasis on formal communication and education. In the end you can’t say if technology is good or bad because it is how we are evolving as a society. Technology is something that is going to come and go, it will stay and it will evolve, so we just have to learn how to adjust to the affects. TTYL.

  19. mrau188 Says:

    To answer your question about whether it has affected the community or helped strengthen these bonds it has done both. Today we now live in a world where children facebook more than they spend outside playing pick up football with the neighborhood kids. This leads to tears in how people know how to interact with each other in person which can be directly affected through bonds in the community. However on the other hand these kids can also talk to each other on facebook instead of playing football they can learn things about each other that they otherwise would not have known. It makes their relationships a lot more personal then they would have been around their groups of friends playing football. This in form makes way for a lot of tight bonds to be made with all of the kids that would be playing football with each other, and since they all have connections connecting them they form interconnected bonds when sharing similar events that have happened in their lives, this leads towards a community where everyone knows everyones secrets which is a lot better than just a group of kids that just knew each other from throwing the pigskin around.

  20. yonni627 Says:

    The role of technology in our society has become extremely interesting to me over the last two years. Technology, in our world today, has become a culture and movement of its own. Unlike most things in this world, technology doesn’t really have a limit; there can always be a new and more innovative invention. Yes, it is true that people are very inclined to buy the newest and most technologically advanced model, but can you really blame them? I now bring up my argument; the importance of technology today is not caused by the youth, but by what technology itself has to to offer. People are driven by curiosity, unsureness, and creativity. All of these forces directly relate to technology because technology takes people beyond the realm of reality and transports them to realm of possibility and creativity. Young adults and teenagers are not driven to get the newest Iphone or Droid because they want to advance their texting and web browsing skills, rather, they are driven by their curiosity and “ignorance” to what the technological world has to offer. Therefore, from the supplier side, why would they ever stop creating new things if they have everyone demanding a newer, more advanced technology? The answer is they wouldn’t, and in fact they will continue to create until no one is interested anymore.
    With all that in mind, I think that technology is being mistreated, by both suppliers and demanders. Companies like Apple, Twitter, Google, and Facebook have all created movements. Facebook, for example, has over 800 million active users, and all these users are somehow connected through Facebook. But why doesn’t someone start a technological movement to help bring peace to the middle east, or help rescue the thousands of people being murdered in Darfur? Technology has become an indulgent part of society, rather than a beneficial and productive one. People in relationships can’t even give each other five minutes without being interrupted by a text message or email. In response to people’s human capital, well that seems to have disappeared; people focus more on their cell phones, Ipads and laptops, more than they focus on themselves. So this leads us to the question of where will this take us and how will our society function as a democracy. My answer is, that it is up to us. We need to decide how we will use technology in our world, and what we will use it for. As of now, it seems that the world is being thrusted forward by the technological movement, and it has become very hard to detach from it. People need to re-establish their human capital so that society as a whole can move it its own pace, not by the pace that technology has brought to us. While technology has its many benefits in communication and information, it has severely diminished our ability to fully express and evaluate ourselves; it takes up too much of our lives. To conclude, I think that technology shouldn’t be the only thing that is limitless; our self value and ability to contribute should not have any limits, and we should always be looking forward to making a new, innovative change to ourselves, and to society as a whole.

  21. matthewlocascio Says:

    I think the constant increase in technology has damaged social capital. The resources we use to establish relationships and cooperation through organizations and networks are not being utilized to the extent they were years ago.

    With the increasing use and dependency on technology, we are not as dependent on social groups, clubs, recreational leagues, etc., as our forms of communication and networking with others. We are dependent upon technology to establish communication or some form of a relationship with others, and we fail to utilize resources that can help us cooperate with others. I feel that today, many people don’t know how to have a real relationship with another person because they depend on cell phones or Facebook as the only way to talk to someone else. When it comes to actually dealing with others in a social setting, people don’t know how to cooperate with others, in terms of giving feedback, advice, criticism, things like this. Being mad at someone, criticizing others, or even complimenting people is much easier through text, and people don’t get the necessary social interaction with the growing use of technology.

    I think technology has partly destroyed the sense of community, but at the same time strengthened the bond between individual people. We are not as connected as a community because people interact as much in social settings like I described above. Looking at it a different way, the increased use of technology has made people more connected on a personal level. Facebook, Twitter and text messaging has allowed people to be more connected with their closest friends than ever before. So I feel that the exponential growth of technology use has both damaged social capital and the sense of community, but also strengthened the bond between friends and families.

  22. srubins Says:

    I find this all very interesting and there is definitely much to be said where this is concerned due to the evermore changing society that we now live in.

    Yes, the youths are the ones responsible for the skyrocketing volumes of text messages being sent and thereby, causing the shrinking of the traditional American community. But, they are certainly not the only ones at fault. In this article published in 2009 (http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/03/25/number-of-us-facebook-users-over-35-nearly-doubles-in-last-60-days/), the rates of adult registration on Facebook is closely examined. It reports that in this particular month two years ago, the number of adults on Facebook over the age of 35 doubled–this is an astounding statistic! And, this was two years ago, imagine the rate today. In addition, as mentioned in the original post on this thread, teens have been popularly blamed for the communicative stratification in our society. Yet, think about it. Most of these adolescents are students who receive these technologies as gifts. Sure, some of them may work jobs after school but a fair amount of them obtain their phones, computers, iPads, iPods, Xbox, and more from their parents; Parents today are in some cases just as into technology as kids. If you walk into the Apple store at the mall, it is not stifled with teenagers, you see parents and more middle-aged individuals–the American consumer–shopping for their next technological purpose. Whether they will abuse it to the same degree that an adolescent would is a different story but they are sure just as opportune to. Also, with regard to the overusing of text messages, I may only be speaking for myself and few others but a conversation over text that takes fifteen minutes over text would only take three over the phone. Therefore, for important and time sensitive issues of conversation, I certainly prefer phone calls.

    Moreover, Putnam is undoubtedly correct in his excerpt alluded to above. Yet, there is another valid angle that should be considered. One must realize that with the shrinking of the classic American community, there is rise in a more efficient virtual community. Now, that does not mean it is more effective. That just means that given the current means of technology that operate our world, a society that operates through virtual means of communication is more conducive to living efficiently. All emails and online financial transactions leave e-receipts or traces in your inbox or old mail. All of this is held on a virtual box atop one’s table or desk. This is much more sensible given our modern society as oppose to collecting receipts, letters, and bills in real life boxes.

    Lastly, the organizations that create cooperation in America are completely privy to the situation at hand. There is not one federal, corporate, or party organization that does not have a fully functional and detailed website. Information and controls that fuel our democracy are effectively communicating to and providing resources to those in need virtually–there should be no worries where this is concerned. Yet, yes, some may say that literally speaking modern technology and thereby communication has destroyed our sense of community but, one cannot disregard the fact that it has also strengthened bonds among global networks and enhanced the efficiency of our world’s operating procedures.

  23. jpstern Says:

    I don’t think that advancement of technology has decreased our sense of community but, I do believe it has decreased our ability to communicate and form true bonds with people. Even as recent as 6 years ago, before the iPhone, people would ride the bus and have nothing better to do then start a conversation with someone standing or sitting next to them. Once smartphones became prevalent in society as they are today, people don’t talk to each other as they used to. On the bus you will see the majority of people nose down looking at their chosen device, googling something stupid or playing a pointless came. I am absolutely a victim of this phenomenon but, what social value comes out of it. By starting a conversation with the person next to you, one can form a lifelong friendship or the person could even become your spouse. In addition, i know of people who are the most social people, but only when texting. These people will send countless texts, but upon seeing the recipient in person, only a few words will be exchanged. Only with the emergence of Skype and various video chat forms have people actually been able to have a true face to face conversation with someone without actually being in the same room. Will this reverse the effect of decreased social ability? I guess we will have to wait and see.

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