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Social Effects of Internet Technologies

In 2010 The New York Times published a series of articles united by a single topic: how technological revolution has changed the world and influenced people. “Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction” (November 21) is devoted to the effects of spending too much time in front of the computer on learning habits and attention concentration. Article “Attached to Technology and Paying a Price” (June 6) deals with the load of multitasking leading to serious brain changes and the way technologies influence family life. “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime” (August 24) tells about technologies and rest, and the ways these two phenomena interact.  Finally, “An Ugly Toll of Technology: Impatience and Forgetfulness” (June 6) tackles uncomfortable truth of internet dependence. Three articles were written by Matt Richtel and the last by Tara Parker-Pope. One of the most disturbing results of technological invasion in our lives is damage to the ability to communicate directly

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Family relations may become endangered when one of the couple is too absorbed in the internet world. Even rare family vacations are marred by inability to get a full-fledged interaction. Matt Richtel (2010) exemplifies one of such cases when a spring break turned into a celebration of a new iPad release. When a wife complains that a husband “can no longer be fully in the moment” due to using technologies every minute of his life, it is a reason for serious thinking. At the same time, the family felt that absence of devices and simply more time spent together “changes the mood of everything”. Communication and involvement in the family matters are cornerstones of successful relationships. Thus, parents must be role models for their children in order for the latter to retain any live communications skills at all in future.

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Using technological devices becomes a kind of an avalanche and a herd instinct. Article by Parker-Poke presents a wonderful illustration of this phenomenon, telling about an experiment of leaving schoolchildren without electronic media for a day and feeling of seclusion and inability to connect directly resulting from it. Everyone else is wired and online, so the person out of this experience feels lonely. In the long term it may have disastrous effects as technologies may absorb a real side of life. At the early age children grow socially and if all the conversations turn into electronic ones, a lot of important skills may be underdeveloped. Thus, at least in the surrounding where direct social contacts are facilitated, such as schools or various circles, use of technological devices should be limited in order for young minds to get some real communication experience.

It is not only the two-person side of communication that suffers. Ability to formulate one’s thoughts clearly also suffers from redundancy of internet technologies in our lives. Logical thinking and eloquence become impaired. One of Matt Richtel’s (2010) articles shows this effect clearly: a dream of becoming a filmmaker, being in a focus of schoolboys’ activities, may not come true because Vishal, the hero of the article spends too little time doing homework. According to one of the teachers, in order to succeed the boy must also read, not only master technical side of the profession. The teacher continues that it is impossible to become a good writer using only a restricted kind of communication presented by internet technologies. In such a way a lot of bright students do not develop their reading and writing skills preferring to spend more time consuming snapshots of information and expressing thoughts in a limited way.

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No doubt, such effects of technologies on our lives as a constant urge for stimulation and the ability to stay in touch permanently are also significant. Modern interactive world demands such changes and mobility. However, experience of last decades shows that brain suffers a lot from such progress. It is especially revealed in loss of the ability to concentrate on one task and produce long-time memory, both interfering with learning process. Human interaction is what suffers the most in this situation. Technologies are meant to make lives easier, but if abused, they begin to display an opposite effect. E-mailing and texting are great advantages in business, but they should not eliminate good old face-to-face communication.

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