Disconnect to Connect
All over the world, people can connect through technology. The possibilities of technology are endless with the constant innovation that provides the world with technologies such as smart phones and social media. Without much thought, one can reach whoever they want at a moment’s notice. While smart phones and social media have provided constant connection, arguments suggest that this constant connection is causing strain on the younger generations. The pressure to always be connected influences young people to develop harmful habits that are becoming increasingly harder to break. The negative social, emotional, and physical effects of being constantly connected requires young people to seek an escape from their devices in order to truly connect. In order to seek this retreat, adults in the lives of these young people must be supportive and help them to learn and understand how to use technology healthfully.
Social pressures for children and young adults to be heavily involved in social media can cause a feeling of competition online and a sense of false connection. Connecting quickly with many people through social media is promoted as how to be “popular”. Often, they feel required to talk to as many people as possible and let their number of followers and engagements control their emotions and determine who they choose for friends. In Sherry Turkle’s article, “Growing Up Tethered”, she writes about these struggles through the lens of other students and their testimonies. Turkle writes, “[Brad] spends more and more time perfecting his online Mr. Cool. And he feels pressure to perform him all the time because that is who he is on Facebook,” (590). Turkle uses this text to explain that young people decide who they are online, and then use that to shape who they are in real life. This damaging mentality can cause not only negative social effects, but negative emotional effects.
Insistence on continuous checking of phones and social media can cause detrimental harm to a young person’s emotional state and sense of self-worth as well as harming their mental health. The ability to compare different social lives or bodies to yourself can create dangerous mentalities for young adults and teenagers who are already having a difficult time cultivating their self-esteem. In Turkle’s previously mentioned article, she writes, “Mona worries that she does not have enough of a social life to make herself sound interesting,” (586). This quote expands on the emotional difficulties that can be created when cell phones and social media begin to control the emotions of the young. The mental health of the young may also be at risk due to cell phone addiction. According to Babadi-Akashe, Zahra et al., “…with increased and improved mental health, the rates of students’ addiction to mobile phones reduced” (93-9). By teaching the younger generation to value personal connections over virtual connections, it may help students to develop a good self-esteem. Through promoting them to not take social media too seriously it can also prevent negative physical effects from addiction and lack of focus or sleep.
Overuse of technology and addiction can cause a host of negative physical effects such as lack of awareness and other physical health problems associated with addiction. Especially in the younger generations, cell phones consume most of their waking hours. Dependence on technology can cause a lack of connection with others and the environment that surrounds them. William Powers wrote the article, “Not So Busy”, to speak on the lack of focus and connection that people have with others and the surroundings. According to Powers, “Whenever I open a gap between myself and my screens, good things happen…Such gaps allow our awareness to return to the physical world,” (516). In his article, he continues this theme of stepping away from devices in order to fully be present in the moment. Not only can doing this make people more mindful, it can also prevent addiction to technology from taking over the lives of the young.
The strong power that addiction holds with technology cannot be underestimated. In Mary Aiken’s article titled “Designed to Addict”, she elaborates on the dangerous pathway that leads to technology addiction. Aiken states, “A combination of fast delivery, exploring opportunities, unexpected information, and intermittent rewards creates a medium that is enticing, exciting, and for some individuals totally irresistible,” (620). The fast-paced world of the internet and social media can cause even a strong-willed user to be sucked into its depths. This can cause detrimental physical effects if the young are swapping out playing outside with playing on their phones. According to Yucelyigit and Aral, “The findings of their study showed that the joint association of high screen time and low physical activity have direct association with abdominal obesity, overweight and low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol,” (68). This shows that technology addiction can cause a reduction in physical activity, and thereby can cause poor health. This imminent danger of addiction can only be halted by support from the adults in the lives of the young. This support should include the monitoring of screen time and the encouragement to find other things that they enjoy alongside technology.
Education from the influential adults in the lives of the younger generation must be in place to show them the dangerous effects of technology. These dangers can manifest themselves as social, emotional, and physical harms. Through the involvement of adults in the lives of young people, the young can see the satisfaction of true connection without the veil of a screen or social media platform. This true connection can help build self-esteem and provide a realistic view of others and relationships. Increased mindfulness and awareness can supplement the habits of the younger generations to further equip them with the skills for their daily return to technology. Setting parameters and time constraints will allow the younger generation to healthfully use technology while maintaining true connections. This education will provide beneficial habits that the young can use for their entire life.