The Cardinal Times

Filed under Features, Opinion

Technology Benefits Society

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Technology is all around us. We have the world’s information at our fingertips. We’re more connected than ever before. But some people think that all this tech is driving us apart, that we are losing ourselves. Cyberbullying, social media, isolation, you hear these words all the time. Some people are convinced that the internet is causing the downfall of society. The truth is, it isn’t. The internet, smartphones, social media and texting are elevating our lives.

The main concern with technology is that it encourages bullying and that kids are more vulnerable with all these newfangled social media. Statistics beg to differ. According to a PEW Research Center article on teens and bullying, “Nearly one-in-five teens (19%) said they had been bullied over a recent 12 month period. The most frequent scenario was being bullied in-person.” Despite the internet, in-person bullying is still the biggest problem facing teens.

“But letting kids and teens on the internet exposes them to strangers!” people may say. “On the internet, you don’t know who you’re talking to.” But here’s the thing; that’s no different from real life. Kids are exposed to strangers all the time. Unless you homeschool your kids, never let them outside, etc., your kids are exposed to strangers on a daily basis. The people they walk by on the sidewalk, the people that walk by their houses. And whether you’re talking to a stranger on the street or online, you know nothing about them.

Of course, harassment is only one side of the story. Critics of technology say kids and teens are becoming more isolated. They are more interested in their smartphones than communicating with their peers. But this ignores what teens are doing on these smartphones: texting their friends and making new ones.

The idea persists that online friends aren’t the same as “real” ones. Well, why not? Being friends with someone isn’t necessarily about seeing them face to face, or somehow connecting through being physically close. Understanding and identifying with their dreams, ambitions, talking with them, doing things with them, that’s what being a friend is about. And guess what? You can do that easily online. People aren’t limited to those physically closest to them as friends. People who are shy now have a way to make friends more comfortably. Remind me how that’s a bad thing?

Finally, skeptics accuse the general public of using phones as a distraction from their daily lives. So? How are phones different from TV, radio, or books? Yes, books. Those same things teachers worship for taking us to new places and making us smarter. Some of these teachers are still skeptical about the internet, which does exactly this, faster and easier.

While it’s true that technology has some downsides, people who think it’s detrimental to society are dead wrong.

 

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