Technology: Enriching Your Reality or Replacing It?
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All teens of the technology era can relate to the feeling of being sucked into the vortex otherwise known as the vibrant screen of a laptop. All have lived through that moment late on a school night with homework open on one of many pages open on an Internet browser. Social connections, sounds, and colors flash from the array of tabs and attempt to snatch your attention from the task at hand. The TV is persistently humming from the corner of the room and your phone chimes from whereabouts unknown. Without knowing it, you have given yourself to the mercy of technology: benefits, distractions, and all that comes along with it.
To most, the fact that technology is anything other than a necessary benefit is nonexistent. When our brains are highly exposed to a new culture, they will remodel themselves along with their environment. As this occurs, time for reflection and contemplation will be pushed out of our schedules and the circuits that support these functions will weaken. As our brains are remodeled to fit into this new lifestyle, we will gain new and possibly more impressive abilities but also lose old ones.
Studies have shown that time in quiet settings causes attentiveness, stronger memory, and the ability for people to control their minds because people are not assaulted by stimuli, such as the sound of receiving a new email. These studies have also indicated that the more distracted people are, the less able they are to experience emotions such as compassion and empathy. Just as technology is diminishing our capacity for quiet reflection, it is altering the depth of our emotions.
The mind of a person accustomed to the Internet is a frantic and buzzing one as opposed to the calm mind of a reader. This is because the depth of human intelligence relies on our ability to transfer information from “working memory”, or short-term memory, to long-term memory. This is a slow process, and when confronted with the Internet, we are forced to attempt to bring in loads of information all at once. This load of information surpasses our mind’s ability to store and process, and as a result, we are unable to retain this information. Our ability to learn suffers, as does our ability to maintain attention.
Popular sights such as Facebook and Tumblr cause teens to spend more free time online rather than outside or reading a book. The Internet provides quick, easy, and colorful entertainment that teens crave. A world without technology would be a hard one to live in and a near impossible transition to make, but a world where we are able to easily step back from the distractions that accompany technology would benefit the mind.