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Remy 1

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

A Backwards Future (Draft)

A life without a cell phone? Who remembers that? In the past decade, we have seen

technology such as smartphones, tablets and TV expand to the point that we are nearly dependent

on them. Although these advancements have made obtaining information much quicker and

more convenient, the overuse of technology negatively affects us in ways that we may not even

realize. Because of technology overuse, we’re becoming less sensitive to others emotions,

toddlers’ brain development and learning ability is affected, and parents are less able to filter

unwanted content from reaching their children; for these reasons we need to cut back on screen

time to ensure that generations after us reach their full potential socially and intellectually.

Before talking about the effects, first we need to address technology overuse itself.

People have become so accustomed to the convenience of having a phone on them all the time

that they can’t put them down. According to Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatric

endocrinology, when using technology we can “over-release dopamine, over-excite and kill

neurons, leading to addiction” (qtd. In Ladika). This is a problem because it can be related to a

specific feature in technology that many people use daily: social media. The more often that we

check apps like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. we subconsciously train ourselves to crave

notifications, like an addiction. Comparatively, some health professionals argue that we can’t be

addicted to technology and define the overuse as a bad habit, but the reaction that occurs in the

brain as a result of tech overuse is consistent with the definition of addiction. We feel satisfaction
Remy 2

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

from checking social media, watching TV or playing video games, and our brains release

dopamine. Consequently, we build a mental attachment to this feeling which causes us to obsess

for more (“Ladika”).

To continue, tech overuse is erasing our ability to empathize with one another. Many

people spend all day engulfed in social media, and in a sense it becomes a second reality. This is

a problem because it becomes too easy for young people to participate in things like

cyberbullying and not realize how it affects the victim. A girl named Amanda Todd ended up

committing suicide in 2012 because she was cyberbullied by a stranger who she sent a nude

picture to. After attempting to blackmail Todd, the cyberbully sent the picture to some of Todd’s

classmates who made fun of her in person, and eventually Todd posted a video to Youtube about

the situation. She killed herself the next day (“Waytz and Gray”). Web-based communication

like social media and online dating shouldn’t be so easily manipulated, and definitely not to the

point that people are compelled to commit or even consider suicide. Todd’s case demonstrates

that the internet can be used as a weapon, because people can damage other’s self-esteem,

confidence, and mental health overall through anonymous and known interaction from behind a

screen. Private information can spread too quickly, and since people feel safety from being in a

virtual reality, they are quick to judge and team up against a victim. The end result is online

perpetrators having no sense of empathy for the victim because they can’t organically see how it

affects them, and then incidents like that of Amanda Todd occur.
Remy 3

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

Another issue that has risen is young children being exposed to too much screen time.

When children are between infant and the age of about 3, their brains are in a very important

developmental phase. Because of this, doctors strongly advise that for “kids less than [age] two

no screen time” and “no more than two hours of pleasure screen time a day” for kids who are

older (NBC26). To elaborate, when toddlers watch interaction on screen as opposed to in person,

there is a disconnect that has been observed. When they are exposed to the same situations in

reality as the ones that they watch on screen, they act as if what’s going on is brand new to them.

Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at New America Foundation, describes

a project at Georgetown University where they used three sets of toddlers who had to watch

puppets find hiding places in a laundry room. One set watched the puppets from a screen, one set

saw it happen in person, and the last had to play a computer game to find them. In the end, they

had all three sets try to find were the puppets were hiding in person, and it turns out that the sets

who watched in person and played the computer game were able to do so, but those who watched

on screen acted as if they had never seen the puppet video (“Tedx Talks”). This is disturbing,

because many young children watch screens constantly instead of having real-life interactions.

The number of children who are unable to problem solve and think critically will drastically

decline, leaving them dependent on devices, which caused the problem in the first place. This

process of becoming dependent connects to the issue of addiction itself. It should be more clear

now that “this is happening by design”, or so says Tristan Harris, former Design Ethicist at
Remy 4

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

Google (Ladika). Hooking children to screens in their earliest years then when their older they

are naturally dependent on them, it’s like a new drug epidemic. Unfortunately, it can be difficult

for parents to honor doctor recommendations because handing a child a device can be relieving

when you’re busy.

A common argument is that the advancement of technology has been positive because of

how easy and convenient it is to obtain information. While this is very true, people have not

considered the lack of parental control for children. Since the internet is such a broad spectrum

of information, it's hard for parents to control what their kids are seeing online. Basically,

“Technologies reduce the strength and legitimacy of parental influence while increasing

influences from a host of unknown and often unwanted sources” (Dill). The overload of

information brought on by the internet is problematic because kids have access to content that

isn’t age appropriate, and also content that adults may not even want to see. Now is where some

will argue that parental controls solve the problem, but around middle school and high school

parental controls on devices stop for many kids. Continually, they are at an age where they are

still growing mentally, physically, and emotionally, needless to say they are still minors.

According to Jeffrey Dill, a sociology professor at Eastern University, “​Some parents think new

media technologies prompt kids to ‘grow up too fast’”(Dill). ​ The point is that at the end of the

day, kids get to an age where their parents aren’t as involved in their relationships with their

peers and kids gain influence from each other. With technology, everything inside of a child’s
Remy 5

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

age group, below it, and above it is free for them to see. The amount of content they can reach is

limitless, and parents have less opportunity to filter the bad things out.

To summarize, our devices have been extremely useful in giving us quick access to

information along with making it easier for us to communicate. But, at the end of the day the

repercussions are people becoming less empathetic, more exposed to things they shouldn’t be at

a young age, and more lazy and dependent. All these effects can easily result in generations of

people after us being addicted to their devices. Now with all this in mind, we should all make

more of an effort to act on our doctors’ recommendations. Along with ourselves, we need to cut

back on the time our children spend on devices and ensure that they spend more time with each

other growing up, or our society will become one that’s taking steps backwards.
Remy 6

Julian Remy

Professor Rodrick

English 115

24 September 2018

Works Cited

Ladika, Susan. “Technology Addiction: Is obsessive computer use a mental health disorder?”

​CQ Researcher​, Vol.28, no.15, CQPress, 20 Apr. 2018, ​http://library.Cqpress.com/​cqre

searcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2018042000&abstract=false. Accessed 23 September

2018.

Waytz, Adam and Kurt Gray. “Does Online Technology Make Us More or Less Sociable? A

Preliminary Call For Research.” ​SAGE Journals​, Edited by Robert J. Sternberg,

Association for Psychological Science, 14 May 2018, ​https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691

617746509​. Accessed 23 September 2018.

Dill, Jeffrey S. “Why Parents Worry About Technology, But Struggle To Limit Its Use.”

Institute For Family Studies, 4​ March 2014, https://ifstudies.org/blog/why-paren

ts-worry-about-t echnology-but-struggle-to-limit-its-use. Accessed 23 September

2018.

“How the iPad affects young children, and what we can do about it: Lisa Guernsey at

TEDxMidAtlantic.” uploaded by Tedx Talks​, 2​ 7 April 2014.

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P41_nyYY3Zg​ Accessed 28 September 2018.

“Toddlers and Technology.” uploaded by NBC 26, 5 May 2015.

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqPbDp-XjbM​ Accessed 28 September 2018.