Digital Overconsumption: The Effects of Modern Technology
Digital Overconsumption: The Effects of Modern Technology
As with any technological advancement in the society, overconsumption of modern technology has tremendously immersed individuals on a path of changed social behavior. An example is the recent landmark report by Common Sense Media that details the long hours spent by teenagers on entertainment media. The findings from the study suggest that teenagers between the ages of thirteen and eighteen spend at least nine hours daily on entertainment media while those between eight and twelve years spend an average of six hours daily (Common Sense 1). More alarming is the fact that these hours do not include the time used in media for homework or school-related activities.
The report is characteristic of the growing concern by parents, the education sector, and heath stakeholders regarding the negative impact of modern technology on their children and the society. Further, the advent of iPads, laptops, and smartphones have provided teenagers various platforms to gratify their insatiable need for entertainment, ranging from social media, mobile gaming, and online videos. The traditional forms of entertainment, such as listening to music and watching TV, are also enjoyed most often. Even though modern technology has astronomical benefits to both teenagers and individuals’ personal and professional lives, its overconsumption has dire effects that cut across the health, professional, personal, and education dimensions.
The millennial generation predominantly born between the 1980s and 1990s is the most affected by the wave of technological transformation, and are more inclined to be influenced by instant gratification compared to older generation. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey on the impact of new media, and 60 percent of the respondents between ages eighteen and thirty-four indicated that they slept next to their mobile phones to avoid missing texts, online updates, or conversations during the night. Most members of this age group find it unbearable when they fail to respond to texts, emails, or even not accessing the trending topics or information online (Steyer, James, and Chelsea 109). This technological wave has also swept the generation of teenagers born after the millennium, at least as suggested by the findings of a different Common Sense Media survey. According to the study released in 2013, children aged eight years and under, who represented more than 70 percent of the respondents, had used cell phones for entertainment compared to thirty-eight percent in 2011.
The overdependence on constant online connection robs people of the time needed for deeper critical thinking and makes them raring, as well. It also makes teenagers susceptible to negative effects, such as the desperate need for constant stimulation and less impulse control. Further, schoolwork and homework are sacrificed for entertainments through smartphones, gaming, social media, and texting that ultimately affect their academic performance negatively (White, King, and Tsang 40). Aside from the gratification offered by Facebook or Twitter conversations, this norm has a ripple effect in the professional field. The young professionals crave gratifications such as promotion and pay rise and, therefore, often feel frustrated when they do not get these rewards, which lead some to quit their jobs. Moreover, more companies are implementing bring your device (BYOD) policies that catalyze the urge for technological addiction and gratification at the workplace.
According to a Common Sense Media report released in 2012, the findings placed the number of students with short attention span at upwards of 70 percent. These students were drawn from elementary, middle and high school, with more than 40 percent of the teachers associating this phenomenon to overconsumption of media. Additionally, the teachers stated the media affected students’ ability to tackle subject matter and compromised their critical thinking abilities, as well. The teachers alluded to video games and texting as having the worst effects on students. Even worse is the increased prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) medications among children and teenagers to boost their concentration span. Some teachers reveal they rely on short stories rather than complete books for assigning students because of the effects of reduced concentration and shorter attention spans.
The society is slowly shredding the benefits of concentrating on a single task because of the variety of options offered by modern technology (Eugenia, Karacapilidis, and Mahesh, 87). It is a rare occurrence to read a long literary piece online and get the gist of the information. Instead, people prefer skimming through for bold words or letters. From the business meeting, Broadway theaters, and interpersonal interactions at work, the effects of short concentration span are continually becoming odious. Members of the society are gradually becoming slaves of technology through multitasking applications of modern technology, such as conversing with a person while chatting on social media. This trend has led to strict business or class ethics where employees and students are cautioned in advance of the use of smartphones or iPads while deliberating on important issues or class discussions.
The infatuation with technological communication has grave effects on both personal and professional relationships. Most personal relationships are on the verge of collapse or have disintegrated because prominence is put in transcription through chats, texts, social media posts, and emails rather than face-to-face (FTF) communication (Schermerhorn et al., 80). Sending a short message or email to family members, loved ones, or friends is a convenient way of communicating, but the importance of interpersonal connection outweighs this mode of communication. Instances of overconsumption of technology by teenagers have made them become victims of pedophiles and rapists on the social media. The majority of the cases of such atrocities has been attributed to the proliferation of interpersonal chat sites where users related freely without fear of being judged as compared to FTF interaction.
This development has also led to impression management of social media where teenagers and youths paint a perfect image to their communication partners that ultimately make them rely on false presentations of self that destroys the foundation of relationships (Andersen, Margaret and Howard, 124). Business image and customer relationships have also been affected by overconsumption of modern technology. For instance, gone are the days when unprofessional voicemail messages to customers could be discarded. The current business environment is volatile as the most businesses are moving their operations online. Any unintended message or post on a company’s website on social media can go viral within seconds, thereby affecting the image and dwindle customer loyalty.
Overconsumption of modern technology also affects the way we exercise our bodies or engage in physical activities as most hours are spent on television, mobile phones, social media, and laptops. One of the factors that lead to increased rates of persons with obesity is the lack physical activities and increased screen time due to overconsumption of technology (Qidwae 1). This is linked to increased sedentary trends in children and adults who spend their time on gaming devices, online entertainment applications, and the internet. The effects of obesity in a child can lead to worse health conditions that may include asthma, high cholesterol, diabetes and fatty liver disease. According to Common Sense Media, tweenies spend more than four hours on screen media while teens average more than six hours for the use of the same medium a day. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed the number of children between age two and nine affected by obesity in the U.S. at 17 percent. According to CDC, this number has tripled in just a few years between 1980 and 2012 (Fuller 1).
A different spin on the overconsumption trend is that parents are relying on technology to keep their children busy, quiet, or give them ample time to focus on household chores, such as preparing dinner or doing laundry. Even though the demand for parents’ time has increased, they need to control the time their children spend with such devices as smartphones, iPads or laptops. Moreover, people are putting more emphasis and spending more time technological devices such as watching TV or online gaming for long hours that make them neglect to take care of themselves. Further, technology encourages laziness in both children and adults since most household chores that encourage keep them active have been automated and are just a button away in remote controls or synchronized with mobile devices.
It should be apparent that modern technology has exponential benefits in all aspects of life. However, its overuse has detrimental effects on the society that span the health, education, and workplace environments. Even so, there is a need to address these challenges because technological advancement is pivotal in this highly dynamic world. Internet addiction effects such as instant gratification can be controlled by a teacher or instructor in a class scenario where he or she might inform the students on the effects of such distractions and cautioning them in advance. This strategy might also apply to organizations where expressly cautioning, either verbally or in a written statement, the employees to avoid using their smartphones or iPads during meetings or important deliberations.
Parents should seek help from psychologists to help prevent the risk of internet addiction and the importance of technology break. Additionally, obesity cases can be reduced when parents set clear goals at home about spending time on screen media and electronic devices. Monitoring the children, encouraging outdoor play, more parent involvement and seeking clinic-based counseling will go a long way in curbing this health risk. These recommendations are important in curbing the negative effects of overuse of modern technology, now, and in the future, as modern technology is a mainstay.
Andersen, Margaret L, and Howard F. Taylor. Sociology: The Essentials. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Common Sense. “Landmark Report: U.s. Teens Use an Average of Nine Hours of Media Per Day, Tweens Use Six Hours.” Common Sense. Common Sense, 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/landmark-report-us-teens-use-an-average-of-nine-hours-of-media-per-day#>.
Eugenia M. W, Nikos Karacapilidis, and Mahesh S. Raisinghani. Evaluating the Impact of Technology on Learning, Teaching, and Designing Curriculum: Emerging Trends. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2012. Print.
Fuller, Dr. Teresa. “Obesity in Children and Technology.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/46320-obesity-children-technology/>.
Qidwae, Aisha. “Technology Negatively Affecting Our Health, Study Shows.” Journal Sentinel. Journal Sentinel, 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. <http://www.jsonline.com/news/health/technology-is-negatively-affecting-our-health-according-to-a-recent-study-ub6630h-163364366.html>.
Schermerhorn, John R, Richard Osborn, and James G. Hunt. Organizational Behavior. 12 ed. New York: Wiley, 2011. Print.
Steyer, James P, and Chelsea Clinton. Talking Back to Facebook: A Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age. New York, NY: Scribner, 2012. Print.
White, B., King, I., and Tsang, P. Social media tools and platforms in learning environments. Heidelberg [Germany]: Springer, (2011). Print.