Technology Effect Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3113 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

¶ … New technologies have caused big problems for print media such as books, newspapers and magazines because more and more people are turning to online sources for these materials. It seems like every day, a new handheld mobile device of some type is hitting the market and it is clear that these trends are going to continue well into the future. Print media, though, are not the only things that are in trouble as a result of new technologies. A growing number of school districts across the country are giving their students computers and providing their coursework online so that students can learn any time, any where and it seems like actual school buildings and teachers may become a thing of the past too if these trends continue this way into the future. In fact, across the board, new technologies have changed the way people shop, have fun, socialize with each other and even make a living. As more people around the world create even more different ways to use the Internet and other technologies, other areas of life will probably also be affected in unexpected ways. The outcome of these trends remains unclear right now, but it looks bad for many things that have been around for a long time and may even cause humans more problems than they solve. More and more people may become more withdrawn into their own little online worlds, for example, and the way people communicate with each other in the future may be altered as well as a result as the world grows increasingly dependent on these new technologies. To gain some new insights in this area, this paper provides a review of the literature to determine current and future harmful effects of technology on American culture in general and with respect to American young people in particular, followed by a discussion concerning the ethical and privacy issues related to these new technologies, especially social networking media such as Facebook and YouTube and their implications for businesses looking to capitalize on these trends in social media to grow their companies. A summary of the research and some important findings are provided in the paper's conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Term Paper on Technology Effect Assignment

Many people might be tempted to blame declining test scores and moral values among young people in the United States on the Internet, violent video games and cable television, but it is clear that there is always something going on that affects teenagers in ways that adults feel is harmful and causes them more problems than any good that might result. Many trends that occurred during the 20th century were used in this way, such as the rock n' roll that blasted over transistor radios which was thought to cause moral decay and maybe even brain damage, but other seemingly harmless activities as well including pinball machines and comic books. In truth, some early pinball machines were used for gambling and comic books, especially during the 1970s and beyond, became showcases of perversion, violence and weirdness of all sorts. These same young people, though, grew up to become the leaders of America without any apparent brain damage from listening to Elvis on the radio or reading a Creepy or Eerie magazine, but it seems like these minor effects are becoming more intense as new technologies concentrate all of this moral decay in easily accessible packages online.

It seems that this accelerated pace of change frightens some observers more than the specific changes that are taking place, but some of the changes are in fact redefining how young people view the importance of textbook learning in the Age of Information. For instance, increasingly easy access to information of all types online has made many young people reconsider just how important it is to learn the names and capitals of all 50 states, the multiplication tables, all of the presidents and when they served when they can just "Google it" instead, and the value placed on obtaining a traditional education in America is being changed as a result. Likewise, it seems like more and more young people and even older people as well, are resorting to communicating with each other digitally rather than face-to-face, and these trends are changing the way many people form relationships. These technologies are making millionaires out of people who provide online meeting places for singles in search of partners, for example, and more and more American marriages are the result of such meetings. All of these trends therefore beg the question, "What does all of this mean in terms of the harmful effects of technology on American culture?"

Because there is so much money to be made, it is little wonder that many so-called authorities cite the various harmful effects of technology such as cell phones, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace and countless others on American culture by arguing that kids in the United States are becoming even dumber than they were just a few years ago because they lack the critical thinking skills that are needed as part of a skill set for the 21st century workplace. Other so-called authorities are making money off of these harm-based arguments by emphasizing the way American teenagers are using online resources to escape from reality in a world of porn or violent video games such as Call of Duty 4 multiplayer. The truth is that many young people are engaging in these activities, of course, just as they did the jitterbug, drank in speakeasies and wore zoot suits almost a century ago, but because they are so concentrated, more violent and even more easily accessible, these technology-based activities are far more harmful, if that is possible, than rock n' roll, comic books and the Beatles put together if these authorities are to be believed and these issues are discussed further below.

Rewiring Education and the Brains of Young People

Following the end of World War II, the introduction of new technologies such as television and cultural forces such as comic books and rock and roll were thought to be harmful for young people because they distracted them from traditional pastimes such as reading "normal" books that promoted critical thinking skills and going to wholesome activities such as football games and sock hops that promoted accepted American values. Not surprisingly, when the country's young people began to perform even worse in school than ever before by the 1980s, these trends were blamed and there has been no looking back since then -- America's youth are being "dumbed down," as discussed further below, because of technology rather than being educated to their full potential and things are just getting worse because of cell phones, the Internet and social media such as Facebook and YouTube. Given that more user-generated content is published on these social media networks in one month than has been published on printing presses in the history of humankind, it is reasonable to suggest that these harmful effects will become even worse in the future. For example, in his recent essay, "Growing up Digital," in the November 21, 2010 issue of the New York Times, Matt Richel makes the point that, "Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning" (A1).

On the one hand, educators are using technology-based solutions in the classroom to promote critical-thinking skills and learning, but on the other hand, Richel cites the harmful effects of technology on these same academic outcomes. For example, according to Richel, "Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks -- and less able to sustain attention" (A1). Anyone who has witnessed teenagers multitasking by texting their friends on their smartphones while driving a car and adjusting the volume level on their DVD players would likely disagree, but Richel suggests that the impact of the technology-based innovations has done far more harm than good for America's youth. In fact, observers such as Richel argue that these trends are actually causing changes in the ways human brains are hardwired to think. According to Richel, "[Teenagers'] brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing. The worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently" (A1).

Some educators might counter that getting young people to read more in whatever context is a good thing, though and despite the differences that are involved in accessing the material, it seems difficult to support the argument that technology-based activities are actually causing irreversible changes in all of humankind. Nevertheless, these technologies -- and even more powerful ones to come -- are here to stay and young people expect and want to see these same technologies in their classrooms. As a result, more and more educators… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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