Hazardous hand-held devices

“I think most people see what they want to see; they don’t ask you about it or what you’re doing. Lots of people think we’re addicted to our phones.” - Morgan Hamadi, junior

October 18, 2018

For the past  twenty years, smart devices have become increasingly more common in the average home, car and hand. Further, apps and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat created an addictive realm for adults, teens, and children to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas. The effects of this can be seen in the day to day activities of students; qualifying those effects as positive or negative can depend on what side of the generational continuum one falls on.

Psychology teacher Jennifer Minnis believes that sometimes,  computer screens make the user feel content speaking on unethical or racy topics.

“Teenagers and adults turn to technology because it is more comfortable, it provides affirmation, and allows us to voice opinions we would not voice face to face… there is a false sense of security and anonymity,” Minnis said.

All this browsing and sharing and communicating can take its toll. Minnis acknowledged thatthe cyber security mindset can be unintentionally draining.

“Sometimes reality feels overwhelming and we numb our minds by scrolling and scrolling but ultimately, for many,  all that does is create anxiety,” Minnis said. “I am not even sure we realize that we are escaping reality—we are so used to plugging in that we see it as the norm, but we are missing out on the world around us,” she added.

Junior Morgan Hamadi argued that while technology and social media has its addictive properties, it has also produced more social interaction between people as a whole.

“(Social media and technology makes) us more sociable, maybe not face-to-face like the media wants. It gives us the decision of who we want to talk to because you don’t have to just talk to the people around you, and you’re not stuck where you are,” Hamadi said. “I think most people see what they want to see; they don’t ask you about it or what you’re doing. Lots of people think we’re addicted to our phones,” she added.

Most adults would agree that millennials and Gen Z use social media to display their online personalities, not to communicate in a healthy way with family and friends.

“I see that the younger millennials (and Gen Z) are very travel-oriented and very ‘me’-oriented, so they want everyone to see them. They were the selfie generation, always wanting the best picture of themself online. Pictures were never for them, but for everyone else,” marketing teacher Kelly Fowler said.

Fowler noted that this stereotype can be supported by statistics and algorithms used across various social media sites and apps as a marketing tool.

“There is so much data out there on social media platforms that it can’t be generalized, it’s behavior based. For example, Facebook has a whole background of data that nobody ever sees,” Fowler said. “They even calculate how long you stop on something and read it, or look at it or if you click on it. The algorithm feeds it into a file for your behavior and use that to generate ads that would best connect to you,” she added.

There’s no denying that there’s a gap in many areas between generations: social norms, technology use and communication styles just to name a few. Minnis explained that humans naturally develop a conventional idea for different age groups, and that they should not always be viewed negatively.

“I think labeling is just how our brains make sense of the world around us. Stereotypes are not necessarily bad, by definition it is just a widely held but oversimplified idea of a person or thing. It only becomes a negative when we use them as an excuse to not get to know people or judge them based on a stereotype,” Minnis said.

While students can become aggravated because of negative stereotypes created by society and politics, Minnis would like to see them recognize their dependency on technology and the internet.

“Many of our students can see where the labels come from and then can separate what is true for them and what is not. I do think many get frustrated by the idea that they are addicted to their devices, but if they were to be completely honest, they would acknowledge that they have an addiction,” Minnis said.

Differences in opinion aside, society as a whole can agree that social media and technology have influenced each generation differently.

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