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Youth are being mesmerized by the smoke and mirrors of technology

By Staff | Oct 6, 2013

I was recently told that people in my age group ‘spend too much time plastered to screens.’
At first, I totally agreed, but then I sat down and actually thought about the topic.
Our society as a whole relies on computer screens, television screens, phone screens, iPads, MacBooks, etc. I think that it is safe to say we use screens all day, everyday in some form.
It is not just teenagers and 20-something-year olds, that do this either. I want to make it clear, that I believe everyone does this one way or the other.
Our generation (the Facebook generation as I like to refer to us) has known nothing else.
We grew up with computers and the beginning of the World Wide Web.
We also were apart of the beginning of iTunes, iPods and ‘smart phones.’
My parents gave me a Sprint flip phone my freshman year. They wanted to make sure they knew where I was because my brother and I were involved in sports and after school activities.
In my opinion, I believe a high schooler is mature enough to handle such technology and not abuse it.
However, today’s youth seems to be moving through the grade levels with iPads and smart phones attached to their hips.
To defend my generation, when we were kids, playing outside was somewhat of a religion.
I grew up playing baseball, basketball, soccer and golf. My mom and dad also took my brother and me fishing all the time. We had outdoor birthday parties with miniature golf setups, bouncy houses and clowns.
I can remember my parents making rules that we had to be outside on gorgeous days. The neighborhood kids had the same kind of “rules.”
There were about 10 of us that would always play sports, go swimming at the beach or make tree forts.
There was always something to do and nothing really to distract us from doing it.
Advances in high-definition television, booming speakers, compact devices, etc., have made technology with screens more appealing to today’s youth.
Last week I?visited the Blue Earth Area Elementary School to take some photos. I started talking to some kindergartners and third-graders. One girl said that she couldn’t wait for the weekend because her friend was going to come over and play video games with her. Another student told me that he wakes up every morning and plays the same game on his iPad.
Don’t get me wrong, kids still played video games when I was growing up, but we did not have the realistic graphics. There was no Xbox 360, PS4 or Wii systems.
These advancements have made kids less social, I believe. Kids are texting more than ever and face-to-face encounters seem like a thing of the past.
Here is my challenge to you. The next time you go out to eat, see how many people are talking face-to- face with no technology ‘interruption.’ Next, during the duration of your visit, see how many times individuals refer to their phones, iPads, iPods, etc.
I guarantee that you will find similar results for all age groups because society has it engraved onto our skulls that technology equals good.
We rely on our technology to get through the day. I have my email, my calendar, my ESPN radio, maps, voice recorder, music, photos and notepad all on one device. I prefer having this and therefore need to look at it and use my iPhone to get through the day.
Throughout the daytime, I?also look at my computer screen for long chunks of time. Does this mean I’m obsessed with screens? Is that the only thing I care about in my life? Of course not. For me, screens help me get what I need to get done. Imagine going through the day without looking at any screens. It is very hard to do.
Some are judged on how much screen time they participate in, but I feel that there is a much bigger problem. Our society needs to realize that by using technology we can still be social beings. It connects us to old friends and gets us in touch with new ones. Screens help us educate ourselves and see the world in a different manner. Sometimes we need that release from the real world; sometimes we need to relax and let our mind be the one that takes a break.
On a completely separate and unrelated thought, my fantasy football team lost a heartbreaker last week. Drew Brees kneeled on the ball three times to end the game, thus losing three yards (.03 points) from his stat line. I was up by .02 points and ended up losing by .01 points because of it.
That night, I wish I had not had my face plastered to my screen.