Opinion: Technology is consuming our daily lives

Matt Poe

I have a favor to ask of you, dear reader, but first I will provide some backdrop for this column.

A recent study conducted by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization which educates on navigating through the technological world for parents and children, found teens are spending on average nine hours a day using technology for enjoyment and leisure. The study also found that males prefer video games and females prefer more interactions on social media, neither of which come as not much of a surprise. That nine hours of day, however, is a surprise.

Nine hours of the day spent on technology is an enormous amount of time, but it gets worse. That time does not factor in the time teens are using technology for school or work-related projects, which puts daily technological consumption anywhere from 12 to 18 hours per day. The study also found music and television still dominate daily technological consumption for teens and for adults.

For this generation of teenagers, that is almost half of the entire day spent looking at some sort of screen just for entertainment purposes. I sound like an old man unwilling to embrace modern society, but the issue is much larger than that.

American society has become addicted to technology. We are obsessed with having the newest, latest and most advanced technological and the bulk of our interactions are now conducted online. For the teens who these statistics relate to (and the bulk of adults who are guilty of gluttonous technology consumption) there is real human interaction being lost and it can have an effect on social interaction and personal growth.

Technology addiction is, for many, not at the forefront of today’s major crises but it should be confronted far more often than we admit. The art of conversation and face-to-face interaction is, for lack of a better term, dying in today’s generation of teenagers and amongst many young adults as well. It is evident everywhere and it does not take much searching to find it on college campuses.

Here is my favor I ask of you: next time you are somewhere on campus, such as The Hub or on a bus, notice the interactions of students and people around you. You will likely find large groups of people with their heads down, scrolling away on their iPhone or Android with minimal conversation. When conversation is engaged with someone, it is likely started by one person asking another if they have seen something on the Internet, followed by them showing the content on their phone. This won’t be the case with everyone but it goes unnoticed to most of us. I do not sit here high and mighty on my throne of judgement because I am guilty of it as well. However, recognition is the first step in this necessary process of limiting total technological takeover.

Part two of the favor I ask is this: drop the technology and go outside. A great warm front has swept through the Midwest this week and it may be one of the last ones before the gloom and gray of winter sets in. Use it to enjoy some sort of outdoor activity, even if it is just a walk with a friend through campus. And if you’re inside, might I suggest that dreaded object known as a book? I had a phone break about a year ago and that week of constantly not having it glued to my hand was liberating. It shouldn’t take a broken $400 device to realize it.

Contact Matt Poe at [email protected].