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How Technology Affects Human Relationships

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Everyone has seen the withdrawn teenager with music blasting of their white earbuds or the person texting rapidly on his or her smartphone. Humans today are constantly immersed in new technology advancements such as iPhones, video games, or self-driving cars. However, are these advancements beneficial? Of course, these new technology inventions are beneficial but they also carry some negative aspects with them. While new technology provides educational benefits and better means of communication, many undermine the negative effects it has on human relationships and on the ease of access to information that is making our knowledge and writing weak.

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Technology has changed tremendously throughout the decade and has started to incorporate itself into the educational system. For many years educators have debated whether technology aids learning or impedes it. With technology in the classroom, it helps engage students and create active learners. David Goodrum, director of academic technology and information services, at Oregon State University, in Campus Technology states, “digital education is generating new learning opportunities as students engage in online, digital environments and as faculty change educational practices through the use of hybrid courses, personalized instruction, new collaboration models and a wide array of innovative, engaging learning strategies” (qtd. In Himmelsbach). Education is the backbone of almost every economy. Technologies like computers, mobile phones, iPods, projectors, and the internet are recently being used in classrooms to boost students to learn. The school has invested in various educational technologies which can be used by both teachers and their students. Programs such as Quizlet Live, Kahoot, and Khan Academy are prime examples of these investments. By combining studying with a social game, students may be more motivated to study and increase their class participation. As a student, using these programs has helped with studying for tests, quizzes, and SAT and ACT prep. Khan Academy is a prime example of a great study tool, it produces short lessons in the form of videos and it also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators and students. Technology has helped many students in the classroom but it has also helped many outside the classroom with communication.

Communication is a core element of society’s foundation. From carrier pigeons to email, communication has enormously advanced over many, many years. Communication establishes relationships in families, amongst friends, in schools, and government. The elevation of technology has helped to advance how we communicate with each other. Cell phones, social media, and email are a few examples of electronic communication devices. We have access to communicating through texting while also having the ability to illustrate emotions through pictures. Emojis give a way to show emotion through texting. Jenna Wortham states, “A significant humanization of our text interactions happened quietly in 2011 when emoji were introduced as a part of an Apple iOS software update” (476). She acknowledges that emojis were brought upon society as a new way of interacting and showing emotions. Communicating through technology also allows traditional marketing to be replaced by digital marketing. Newspaper and TV Ads are becoming less prominent and recently, most marketing is being placed on social media. Social media marketing has become the major source to create brand awareness and communicate with the target audience. This new way of marketing changed the way marketers communicate with their customers. These devices have helped to make communication more accessible and convenient but also bring a negative aspect.

Even though programs such as Facetime, Skype, and Snapchat help us better communicate with each other, they can also negatively impact human relationships. With the existence of new and emerging technologies through the past decade, digital technologies have made a high contribution to improvements in our lives. Conversations that now happen through social media and have taken the place of face-to-face interactions which is causing people to leave their houses less and less. This can steer people into social isolation. Essentially, instead of spending time in person with friends, we can just call, text, or send a five-second Snapchat. Time on social media replaces a valuable challenge of creating friendships in person and it also may create mental illnesses. “Social media—Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—is reported by 14-24-year-olds to increase feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image, and loneliness, according to a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health” (“How Does Technology”). Spending so much time on social media has caused mental health problems to significantly increase. A vast majority of individuals are frequently on their phones to check notifications or messages from numerous apps that they use, and spending a longer time on their devices than socializing in person with their peers, workmates, and families. Consequently, their relationship with society and people are being ruined because of their social isolation from the environment. Technology enormously impacts human touch but it also affects our knowledge.

With the ease of access to information because of the Internet, many fall to plagiarism and copying without learning anything. The new generations transit along with free downloading of music and movies, too copying and plagiarism of content without much concern. Typically, because they are raised in an era where the Internet is used for everything, where it has been serving all their needs. Smartphones make us distracted and weaken our knowledge. We know for fact computers are rewiring our brains. Though cognitive changes are occurring, most people are not aware of them. This is not the case for writer Nicholas Carr. He says he notices it when reading. Carr writes about this in his article, “Is Google Making us Stupid?” Carr does credit the internet for making research that used to take days available in mere minutes. However, it comes at a cost. Carr believes focus and deep contemplation are what we are giving up (Carr). Giving up the ability to focus may lead to laziness in people’s writing. Many others also debate that technology affects writing. Even Michaela Cullington noted that “Teachers report finding ‘2’ for ‘to,’ ‘gr8’ for ‘great,’ ‘data for ‘that,’ and ‘wut’ for ‘ what,’ among other examples of textspeak, in their students’ writing” (463). Cullington acknowledges the fact that texting has an immense influence on academic writing skills by using abbreviated words. The technology in today’s society is significantly different from what technology was 50 years ago. Many people today rely on their devices for nearly everything as a result of this, it is rewiring an individual’s knowledge and writing skills.

It can be said that technology can benefit and weakens us, humans. However, technology overall is weakening many factors in many people’s lives. It’s no doubt that we are all living, the most convenient lives, with all the facilities available to us. Nonetheless, modern technology in today’s society has consumed many of our lives. The gadgets are benefiting in ways of communication and educational uses but we cannot deny that they are affecting human interaction and with the ease of access of information affecting our knowledge and writing.   

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