Opinion: Too Much Technology

Opinion%3A+Too+Much+Technology

By Meilan Solly
Disagree? Want more technology?
Did you know that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has “Revolutions” listed as one of his interests on his public Facebook profile? Also, many people acknowledge that Barack Obama was elected president due to websites created by Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook. And, incidentally, have you ever heard of the Craigslist killer? There’s no denying that technology has a very powerful effect, and not all repercussions of technology are positive.
Technology today can be found literally everywhere. It’s seen at school, home, work, and places like the public library. It’s not uncommon for 5-year-olds to be more familiar with iPhones than 60-year-olds are. The modern world is, essentially, based on technology.
Technology definitely is helpful. Thousands of people have reconnected with old friends through Facebook, found their niche on sites like tumblr, and overall created great uses for computers, cell phones, television, etc. There is, however, one major problem with technology. Remember that old saying “Too much of a good thing is bad”? Since technology surrounds us all the time, society’s definitely receiving too much of a good thing.
In schools, for example, technology is used constantly. Virtually the only times students aren’t using technology are during P.E. and reading time. Students watch video announcements, learn from Powerpoint or ActivInspire slideshows, and use computers to type essays or do interactive labs, and that’s only during school hours. Once students get home, they have to complete assignments using the computer. There are several problems with all this technology. First, computers don’t always work. Sometimes the Internet stops working for no reason or computers freeze randomly. When there are computer problems it becomes impossible to do homework unless you go to the library, which can be very inconvenient. Teachers always say that if you have a computer problem or don’t have a computer at all, you can come in before or after school or during FLEX. Many teenagers, however, don’t have rides to school or can’t stay after because of other commitments, and FLEX is too short for students to complete all their homework.
One future change in Loudoun County is the 2010-2015 Technology Plan. The plan is to buy an electronic tablet device for every student in 4th grade and up. These tablets will contain electronic textbooks and other educational technology tools. This plan means about 40,000 students will be receiving tablets that cost $500 each. Overall, that comes out to 20 million dollars. This plan is good in that it means students won’t have to lug around heavy textbooks and hurt their backs, but think about this plan realistically. Buying textbooks costs Loudoun County Public Schools 7 to 9 million dollars annually. Of course, after two or three years, the one-time cost of tablets will balance out the annual textbook cost; however, spending $20 million at one time will hurt taxpayers more than paying less money over a longer period of time.
What is the advantage of each student having their own tablet? Some students are definitely going to break or lose them, and replacing the tablets will cost much more than replacing a textbook. What if an economically disadvantaged student loses their tablet? It will be almost impossible for them to replace it. Also, tablets need to be charged, and you can’t flip through the pages of electronic textbooks like you can with real books. Having textbooks on tablets doesn’t promote reading paper books, which has been the foundation of intellectual thinking for thousands of years. Researchers are also concerned about possible negative health effects like vision problems from staring at screens all day. The last area of school without technology is about to be ruined.
Technology in the world outside school may be even scarier. People text and drive, and, consequently, die in car crashes; Facebook and twitter are responsible for promoting revolutions in several countries; and, on a seemingly lighter but really kind of pathetic note, there are TV shows like Jersey Shore that would make any reputable man or woman in a time period besides ours completely lose faith in humanity. There are also many teenagers who have been bullied through sites like Facebook and Formspring and killed themselves. One example is Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old who killed himself on September 18th after being bullied through the aforementioned sites for being gay. These are repercussions of the darkest side of technology.
While technology does have a few extreme effects, most are much lighter. Consider the 3-D takeover for example. Many 3-D movies have been released over the past few years, and the rate of increase grows all the time. There’s even a 3-D Nintendo DS. Now, is that really necessary? Perhaps movies with intense action scenes are more impressive in 3-D, but do you really want to see people’s zits in 3-D?  People today are also becoming totally reliant on technology. The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation shared the statistic that 8-18 year olds spend, on average, 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media every day. Let’s imagine the unimaginable: all the technology in the world stopped working. No computers and no iPods for starters, but seemingly ordinary objects like cars, not even cell phones, but home phones, and refrigerators wouldn’t work either. What would people do all day? How would they communicate? Would they write letters, walk to each other’s houses, use an icebox to keep their food fresh? I highly doubt that. Humans don’t like to regress, so living like it was the 1800’s wouldn’t work for us. I think it’s more likely we’d transform into a Panem-like country, just as Suzanne Collins imagined in The Hunger Games trilogy.
I am not saying that technology should never be used. I definitely wouldn’t be able to stand that, and I don’t think anyone else could either. Instead, I hope that people will remember all the downsides of too much technology. Like chocolate, technology is very good, but only in moderation.