NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 27, 2012

Technology: Helping or harming childhood?

Imagine your life without the latest technology. Imagine it without the Internet. Without a computer. Without a 4G Network. Without a smartphone. Would you be able to survive? Would you go to the public library to check out a reference book? Would you even know how to check out a book? Or even worse, would you know where the library is without using your “maps” app?

In today’s world, life revolves around technology on the axis of electronics. Computers are replacing books and memory sticks are replacing human minds. People have begun losing their patience with the complex world and crave instant gratification by their hand-held devices. They ignore the vast world around them and zone in on the 4-inch retina display.

I’ve witnessed “technology zombies” ignore the world around them even in some of the most beautiful places on earth. In June, my family took a vacation to the Hawaiian Islands where we indulged ourselves, spending hours at a time on the white sandy beaches where gentle waves crashed upon the beautiful coral reefs. The sun kissed the backs of surfers and glistened on the sprawling palms of palm trees. Our cellphones and computers lived in the hotel room, unlike the high-tech devices of the majority of other tourists who could not be separated from their “babies” for any substantial period of time.

We could count on one hand the number of families who were not glued to their electronics. In fact, one night while we were on Kauai, we went to a restaurant that overlooked a lagoon. The view was magnificent and the warm breezes were delicate yet spectacular. In the distance, the mountains shot up out of the ocean in jagged clumps, decorated with banyan trees and other tropical vegetation. As we waited to be seated, I looked over to see a family similar to ours: two teenage girls and their parents, sitting on a bench, all with their eyes locked on their phones. Most likely they were updating their Facebook statuses or tweeting about “how much fun they were having,” while in reality they were missing out on the beautiful place they were visiting. None of them was interacting with each other. It’s debatable whether the father was sneaking a glance at the mother’s text message, but that was the extent of their “interaction.” They might as well have been sitting in their basement, staring at their phones. It didn’t matter if they were in their basement or the incredible island of Kauai; they were in a different universe altogether: the universe of technology, where one becomes enveloped by the machine in their palms.

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