IMPACTS OF TECHNOLOGY ON TEENAGERS
Since technology was introduced, the world has not been the same again. Technology has hugely impacted people’s lives. Notably, it has changed the lives of teenagers, both socially and emotionally. Sherry Turkle, a sociologist, talks about how technology has influenced students’ and young adults’ lives. The digital young generation wants to stay connected to the social media world 24/7. She asks a group of students the last time they did not want to be interrupted, expecting to hear many stories that did not come. Instead, one of the students stated that they are waiting to be interrupted. It dawned on Turkle that what she viewed as an interruption was the beginning of a connection to the students. The young generation has been tethered to technology, affecting their social life, personal identity and lifestyle, which is affecting their relationships with the people around them.
Turkle, in her article, mainly targets teenagers and parents. She seeks to make students understand that their cellphones have significantly impacted their lives, with most valuing connections with their online friends, but still want some independence when their parents seek to connect with them frequently. The author also seeks to help the parents understand the digital students’ behavior. She provides many examples of parents going through so much worry because their children will not answer calls or reply to texts. She seeks to help the audience understand the implication of technology on teenagers and the people around them, hoping that a solution can be found that will reduce the impact of technology on human interaction.
The teenagers of the current world are allowed to own a cellphone nowadays. The youngsters have grown up knowing about technology, and now their lives revolve around it. They are going to the extent of risking their lives so that they can check their phones. Turkle gives an example of Roman, an eighteen-year-old boy, who texts while driving and states that he cannot stop. He says that “I know I should, but it’s not going to happen. If I get a Facebook message or something posted on my wall, I have to see it. I have to.” (Tuckle, 2011). Some have reported to end up with chipped teeth due to texting while driving. Students want to be connected to the outside world all her time. They do not want to miss out on anything. It does not mean that today’s adolescents have fewer needs than the other generations to develop empathetic skills; they also need time to define their identity. However, technology has also interrupted this development. Teenagers have no time to build their identity but end up copying what they see from social media.
Despite them wanting to connect with the outside world, they do not wish to communicate with their parents. They do not want their parents to keep calling or texting them. When parents give their children phones, in their minds, they always want to access the children whenever they can. However, this is not usually the case. One of the teenage boys interviewed by Turkle asks, “If it is always possible to be in touch, when does one have the right to be alone?” (Tuckle, 2011). Some teens even become defiant and feel that they have a right not to answer their cell phones. One of the boys says, “It should be my decision to pick up the phone. People can call me, but I don’t have to talk to them.” (Tuckle, 2011). Other states that, “To stay free from parents, I don’t take my cell. Then they can’t reach me. My mother tells me to take my call, but I don’t” (Tuckle, 2011). Some even get annoyed for teaching their parents how to use instant messaging because they are always trying to contact them, making them feel enslaved. The parents are not having it easy either way. They get worried when their children fail to answer their texts or calls. One of the parents stated that “I didn’t ask for this new worry“ (Tuckle, 2011). Yet she finds herself worrying whenever her girls fail to answer her calls.
Young people use computers and mobile devices to connect to the community whenever the parents are not there. Children whose parents are busy are more inclined to be attached to their phones to avoid the feeling of abandonment and isolation. Others seek closure by actually texting home many times a day to avoid feeling lonely whenever in school. Students are also identifying with social media life, which is disappointing at some point. Those who cannot fit a set standard by the social media end up feeling demeaned. Moreover, even if a student wanted to interact with her peers in person or have a conversation on call, they would not because sadly these friends will not pick up the phone (Turkle, 2011). The challenges brought forward require quick remedy before the human interaction loses its value.