Chained to Technology?

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Ilana Fingersh

Slider image by Ilana Fingersh.

In the year 2000, all of our lives were changed forever. The first “smartphone” was released, and ever since then, they have gradually been getting more advanced. Now our phones buzz with Snapchats, text messages, and Instagram live videos. We do not have a choice when it comes to technology; Our society has to keep up with the latest and greatest, but is the exponential evolution of technology a curse or a blessing?

Sometimes a person can literally be a “Slave To The Internet.” Illustration by Josh Kolkin.

Everywhere you turn in this century you will see technology. From the light you turn on when you wake up, to the Smartboard in your English classroom, to the oven you use to make dinner, we are surrounded, and sometimes bombarded with, the newest forms of technology. Technology can manifest itself in many ways, two of which are educational, and in our everyday lives.

Developments in technology have taken education to a whole other level. Even just a decade ago our classroom learning environments today would have been unfathomable. With just a click of a button, students can collaborate on Google Docs, watch documentaries about ancient history, and even connect and work with students across the country.

Technology is having a “positive influence” on students, because it makes everything “much more organized,” says Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) freshman Dennis Krolevich. These technological advancements allow for kids to have an interactive learning environment, and for them to work at any pace and in any way. It also allows for students to go about education differently.

As “some students are working during the day, while going to school online at night,” says HBHA teacher Lisa Ryan. As a teacher, Ryan believes technology has made a huge impact on her job. “With a stroke of the keys on a computer, you can research or study just about anything you want,” Ryan explains. Our new school environments, thanks to technology, allow students to get the most out of their education and also make the jobs of teachers simpler.

Technology plays a role in our life is in the simplest ways, including: setting the alarm on our phone, using Google Maps to navigate, and checking our email. It is becoming such an integral part of our lives, “almost to the point where someone can’t live without it,” says Krolevich.

The work day now extends to home, says Ryan, as her “remote abilities allow [her] to consistently communicate with students and parents.” The main question is, is all of this technology having a positive effect on us, or a negative one? The answer is multi-faceted and hard to fully answer.

A survey conducted of HBHA high school students shows that 43.5 percent of kids think they are spending one-two hours online, and 13 percent say they are spending three hours or more on their phones. Image courtesy of Ilana Fingersh.

 But the spread of technology has gone further than just ourselves, it is affecting other parts of our lives too. According to an article by Technology Review, 40 percent of people think that the internet plays an integral role in politics, and 62 percent of people say it is necessary for maintaining relationships.

All of this screen time can have negative effects on our bodies and minds. The use of cell phones has led to deaths and injuries from texting while driving. Teenagers and young adults are having a more difficult time becoming independent, says Everyday Health.

According to Krolevich, technology can also “decrease productivity rates due to the attachment people create with their phones.” Increased use of electronic devices can lead to eye problems, hearing loss, muscle pain, and can be seen as an opportunity for online bullying.

With this being said, there is nothing any of us can do to avoid the tide of technology that is taking over our lives. However, it is important to take breaks from technology and make sure we are using it in a way that will benefit us later in life.

“I know technology is snowballing faster and faster,” says Ryan, “and I must simply attempt to hang on for the ride.” She could not have said it any better: technology is changing the lives of people all over the world, and we have to be willing to change with it.