Disconnecting electronically allows us to connect in reality

Advances in engineering and science have enabled technology to improve drastically in the last forty years. Appliances have revolutionized, time and time again, becoming slimmer and sleeker than ever before. The beauty of products is not the only thing to improve over the years. Speed and reliability are both redeeming qualities that factor into most buyers’ choice when picking their newest toy. Technology has enabled easier access to valuable information at the touch of our fingertips, and students have incredible opportunities to learn and to connect by capitalizing on our generation’s most notable achievement.

However, as much as we love our Apple products, are they truly worth the price of the impact they have on us as human beings? We need to delve deeper into what this new technology may be doing to kids, especially as the beginning age of user-friendly devices drops.

We are constantly on our handheld devices. From the dinner table to the playground, from iPads to cell phones, we are always connected. When we get home at the end of our day, we’re expected to spend hours on computers doing homework. Our fun pastime has developed into a reliance, and then one step further to an addiction. Moreover, what many seem to lack is the awareness of how inhibiting our wifi connection is to our human connection. When we are constantly checking our phones, we are not able to be present in the current conversation. Our minds are enveloped in the devices in front of us, and we can rarely hear the conversation around us. When walking through the halls at school or down a street in town, most people walk with their heads down, devices in hand. People prefer seeing digital faces and communicating with people online over real human interactions. When sitting or walking alone, we are programed to check our phones and for some reason feel odd sitting alone and not doing so. Pretty much in any awkward or uncomfortable situation, the go-to move is to pick up your phone. Even when you are trying to put down your phone and connect with those around you, those around you are still engulfed in social media on their devices. It is hard to completely get away from it and have a conversation with those around you.

A new word has emerged in todays teen population: FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, defined by The New York Times as “the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media.” FOMO is inhibiting our minds from being present where we currently are. We are now always checking social media, worried that something “better” is going on somewhere else and that we are missing out. Family vacations, for example, a time when everyone should disconnect from the world back home, are now a time where kids look back on what they aren’t currently doing with their friends — on Instagram, Facebook or snapchat. We no longer seem to be satisfied.

Although many would conclude that ridding society of technology and social media altogether could be the best solution, our society today is so dependent on it, that taking away technology would only cause far greater problems. We should, however, lessen our use of technology and put down our phones when possible to better connect with those around us. We as a society need to understand that advances in technology are not necessarily for the better anymore and although useful, have their limits and should not be used 24/7.

Dana Hall’s Responsible Use policy states that students may not text while walking in the hallways. This rule, however, is widely disregarded, as many students continue to text while walking to classes. It is important, however, for students to put their phones away during this small time period, and to take the time to connect with others, and to acknowledge those around them.

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