Tuesday, December 6

Opinion | Technology is consuming students | Opinion

Technology is everywhere and used for everything. When walking around campus or in the dining halls, many students are tuned into their devices. Technology is used to communicate for work, school, entertainment, research and more. On paper, this sounds like a wonderful advancement that enhances daily living. However, when thinking about how rapidly technology has advanced and how people have become so engrossed into their devices, various problems surface. 

The first computer that was used for public use was invented in 1974 by a small firm named MITS, also known as Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, according to Brittanica. It was called the Altair and though it was popular among computer hobbyists, it had low commercial use. Computers weren’t mass produced for the public until the Apple II, the Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Personal Electronic Transactor were created in 1977. 

The first flip phone was created 22 years later in 1996. The size and convenience became incredibly popular and with the blink of an eye, everyone had one. 

By 2007, technology had advanced so much that Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone to the Macworld conference, according to an article from Wired. After presenting all the accessibility features this phone had, it was approved and put on the market six months later. These were a hit, with Apple selling 270,000 iPhones the first weekend they were put on the shelves. 

Other companies like Samsung started mass-producing smartphones to keep up with this fast-paced market. By 2010 the original flip phones massively declined in popularity as smartphones took over, according to NBC News.

When looking at the timeline of how technology has advanced from the first computer, it’s remarkable. Consumers upgraded from using desktop computers at home for a few tasks, to having portable phones that could make texts and phone calls, to high-tech laptops and smartphones that access everything with a few clicks. 

Peter Lunenfeld is a professor of design, media arts and digital humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles. According to a Pew Research Center article, Lunenfeld said that with every advancement technology makes, a separate issue arises. 

“We will use technology to solve the problems the use of technology creates, but the new fixes will bring new issues,” Lunenfeld said. “Every design solution creates a new design problem, and so it is with the ways we have built our global networks.”

With technology becoming more accessible to the younger generations, more problems arise as developing children and teens succumb to the addiction of technology. Gen Z spends an average 7.2 hours on their phones each day, according to the L.A. Times. That’s one-third of the day spent solely on phones, not including other devices. This increase in screen time contributes to the issues of low academic performance, lack of attention, low creativity, delays in language development, physical inactivity and social issues.

Another issue is the rise in social media. According to Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens use social media. While social media can be a convenient platform to connect with family and friends by sharing pictures, videos and comments, it’s turned into something much darker — many people seek validation through social media and being exposed to false information, according to MIT Management.

There’s also been a drastic change in how tech developers view their own platforms. According to “The Social Dilemma”, Jaron Lainer, computer scientist and virtual pioneer, said they initially created something great that made online connection crucial for daily tasks, but now it’s generated another problem of manipulation and true privacy.

“We’ve created a world in which online connection has become primary,” Lainer said in the film. “Especially for younger generations. And yet, in that world, any time two people connect, the only way it’s financed is through a sneaky third person who’s paying to manipulate those two people. So we’ve created an entire global generation of people who were raised within a context with the very meaning of communication, the very meaning of culture, is manipulation.”

Peter Korenko, a sophomore at JMU, gives a more positive outlook on technology usage. 

“I spend an average of six hours daily on my phone,” Korenko said. “Though, I think technology has a dual effect on people, I mainly see a large step towards rapid innovation in communications.”

While there are both positives and negatives to rapid technological innovation, it’s necessary to not lose touch with what’s important in life. JMU is a place to connect with others, whether it’s in class, clubs or organizations. These available resources to socialize are being overshadowed by the addiction to devices and face-to-face communication will decrease, negatively impacting students’ social skills. 

Contact Oriana Lukas at lukasok@dukes.jmu.edu. For more editorials regarding the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the opinion desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Opinion.

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