The Effects of Technology
Despite the common tendency to glorify and praise the contributions of technological progress to different spheres, including education, healthcare, industry, and media, the effect of technology on behavior, memory, and thinking has become a subject of numerous controversies and debates. Regardless of the fact that technology is supposed to make every person smarter and more efficient, it is believed that technological advancements, including internet, lead to reduced productivity of work, promote multitasking that deprives people of the opportunity to prioritize the most important things, make people lonely, interfere in effective functioning of a human brain, and even ruin relationships. The current paper aims to shed light on devastating as well as beneficial impacts of technology on the way people think, read, memorize, and behave. In other words, much attention will be paid to the influence of technology on everyday activities of people.
M. Richtel, the author of the article Attached to Technology and Paying a Price, claims that technology does not give an opportunity to people to “be fully in the moment”. For instance, deluge of data on the internet is one of the main distractions because excessive amounts of information overburden people, and they fail to focus on their personal life, family problems, dinner plans, and many other important events. In other words, long-term attachment of people to computer screens strengthened by dozens of e-males, instant messages, and urgent online chats spoils healthy relationships among couples and often puts an end to a happy family life.
The authors of the article relies on accurate and valid statistical data that indicates that e-males, numerous phone calls, and other sources of incoming information drastically influence and shape the way people process information and behave. Enormous burst of information should be viewed not only as a great opportunity that develops imagination and makes people more intelligent, but also as an impending threat that interferes in a human cognition and often leads to destructing consequences. For example, the researchers assure that drivers and train engineers should be penalized for using phones and internet at work because it interrupts them from work and may lead to serious crashes. Matt Richtell focuses on the fact that overreliance on internet that includes huge “stocks of information” prevents people from a “deep thought” because people usually want to focus on everything and at once. However, scientists who explore the influence of technology on a human brain have discovered that fractured and shallow thinking is the main consequence of multitasking.
It is critically important to stress that Nicholar Carr who explores the influence of internet on the processes of thinking shares the viewpoints and observations of M. Ritcher that the use of internet results in the development of a so-called “skimming activities” that prevent people from deep and thorough thinking. Thus, instead of immersing in the world of words, analyzing and interpreting information, comparing, and, finally, objectively assessing it, people prefer to focus their attention on tiny and unobtrusive passages of information. On the basis of personal experience, the author of the article Is Google Making Us Stupid claims that he and many his friends notice that their concentration often drifts when they read long passages.
Moreover, the researcher stresses that deep reading is associated for him with a catastrophe or struggle because he usually fails to immerse himself either in a book or long articles. Despite Nickolas Carr confesses that although he believes internet is considered to be an effective universal medium and Goggle is definitely the best search engine that saves time, technology still steals time and deprives him of a chance to analyze and assess information. The author comes to conclusion that with the internet people cannot longer be “scuba divers” in the sea of words because deep thinking that involves analysis, comparison, and evaluation, has nothing in common with internet.
According to the claims of brain scientists, including Nora Volkow who holds the post of a director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, adverse effects of technology on human cognition easily outweigh its positive effects because internet contributes to the development of addiction and has the power to rewire human brain. On the basis of several research experiments that focused on comparison of effects of digital technologies on cognition to the influences of drugs and alcohol, digital stimulation is no less dangerous than such a negative habit as alcohol abuse. However, M. Richtel emphasizes that the humanity has no right to deny tremendous positive influences of technology because brains of humans who use computers on everyday basis as a search engine have become more efficient.
Therefore, the use of technology promotes the development of visual acuity and imagination, shirks distances, makes the works a more connected and comfortable place to live in, opens huge databases of information, saves time, and promotes non-stop interactivity. However, the authors emphasizes that the use of computer technologies must be balanced because in case technologies interfere in personal life, they lead to destructive consequences that are far more dangerous than the failure of deep reading and thinking. In simple words, despite technology transforms the ways people think and process information, affects a human cognition, and makes people more connected, people have no right to favor technology over their personal life and family because significant percentage of unsuccessful marriages and divorces is caused by technology.
Don Tapscott, the author of the brilliant book about the development of digital generations and impacts of digital technologies on humanity, believes that significant percentage of people use internet in order to avoid reading books and absorb the necessary information as quickly as possible. According to the results of statistical data provided by the author, approximately 30% of respondents believe that reading books makes no sense because it wastes time. That is why, Web is the best solution to the problem because it gives that chance to focus on a so-called “shallow reading” and get all the necessary information with the increased speed. The viewpoints of Tapscott are similar to those expressed by Richtell and Carr who claim that technology promotes shallow reading, deprives people of the chance to immerse in reading and practice deep thinking, and interferes in human cognition and brain functioning because he believes that technology transforms people into “skilled hunters” who refuse to waste time on reading long passages of information.
Tapscott is a proponent of the idea that people can use their hunting abilities to make a real positive difference. However, contrary to many other researchers who explore the effects of technology and digital immersion, including Richtell & Carr, avoidance of conventional book reading does not make people stupid. On the contrary, the author of the article How Digital Technology Has Changed the Brain provides convincing data that although considerable decline in reading novels is regarded as shame, the world of digital technologies provides a variety of more effective ways to read and learn information that has enough powers to make this digital generation the smartest ever.
Contrary to Nicholas Carr, Don Tapscott assures that sensitivity of a young brain to the influences of technology should not be viewed as a problem because technology generates a new and more efficient ways of thinking, reading, and information processing. He relies on the results of statistical data to prove that video games are not “brain killers” that slow down mental processes, contribute to the development of addiction, and promote violate. In spite of the fact that video games usually interfere in cognition and mental processes, they subconsciously teach gamers to process information quicker, concentrate when they are bombarded by huge masses of online information, and block out unnecessary background noise that often does not give a chance to people to absorb and assess multiple streams of information. In addition, many researchers who investigate the effects of technology on mental abilities and cognition, including Tapscott, emphasize that using technology for a background noise is not a problem because it helps people feel more comfortable and increases concentration on work. Statistics proves that significant percentage of people can work with the increased speed and effectiveness with favorite music playing and recent news coming in from social platforms, including Facebook. Thus, contrary to two previous authors, Tapscott is a proponent of the idea that positive effects of technologies outweigh its minor disadvantages because vast proliferation of digital technologies contributes to the development of “intelligent readers” who do not need to read deeply in order to understand the essence and main objective of information. Online hunt that promotes effective skimming and excludes deep reading is one of the most fundamental advantages of technologies that enables people to be smarter than their parents and grandparents. Thus, technologies ensure a unique opportunity to young and adult brains to achieve unbelievably spectacular results that will have a positive impact on their personal growth and professional development.
Alan Jacobs refutes the arguments expressed by Don Tapscott that the benefits of technology are more significant than its negative influences. The author of the article This Is Your Brain Online promotes the idea that despite present generation lives in a so-called information age, people know less because they waste their time on absolutely unnecessary things. Mr. Jacobs is convinced that the direct synonym to the phase “digital age” is the “age of distractions” because digital technologies distort memory and make people stupid. Instead of reading book online, people become obsessed with selfies and video games that are stupid, violent, or both. However, the author claims that technology itself is certainly not the problem because people should rely on this endless source of information to become deeper readers and more responsible knowers. The researcher is deeply convinced that technology is a powerful tool that ensures a chance to people to get to know how they make use of the information produced and disseminated online. In general, in order to overcome threatening adverse impacts of technology on cognition, memory, and information processing, people should have enough strength to overcome their addictions and develop “healthy habits” associated with the use of technology for appropriate and useful purposes.
Thus, after having shed light on both sides of the argument concerning the effect of technology on behavior, memory, information processing, and reading abilities, it is possible to come to conclusions that internet and technology has totally transformed mental reflexes, habits, and preferences of people. In addition, despite technology always interferes in the way people learn, read, absorb, analyze, assess, and reproduce information, its advantages outweigh its possible drawbacks in case technology is used for useful purposes and in a balanced way. Despite the opinions of the researchers regarding positive and negative impacts of technology vary, the only solution to the problem focuses on the urgent need to reassess the power of technology, the ways of its usage, and its useful application that contributes to personal and professional growth because technology not only keeps moving forward but also inspires humans to move forward as well. Technology motivates people to become more effective “scanners” and develop a variety of useful skills that will assist people in coping when they are confronted with huge masses of accurate and false information available online.