The way we approach convenience.
As society continues to evolve, so too do we. Advances in technology have made life equally easier and more complex in a variety of ways. While all of our everyday devices can fail or malfunction, causing us frustration, we certainly cannot live without these modern comforts. In certain cases, the need to be accompanied by these items crosses into the extreme. Not being near the cell phone when a message is received is not simply an inconvenience to some, it is unthinkable. Not having a connection to Facebook or any other social networking at any time causes some panic rather than a fleeting sense of curiosity. With the growth of online communities, communication devices, and technological socialization as a whole comes a certain type of addiction that at one time never existed. It is a unique, consistent desire for attention and confirmation that only a like, text message, or forum comment can bring.
The comfort experienced from these miniscule occurrences has become affirmation of self-esteem. Online attention from friends or even total strangers can positively or negatively affect the way one views themselves. Juveniles are particularly sensitive to such feedback, posting to various websites in search of the verification that they desperately seek. Enough negativity aimed at them can not only be emotionally damaging, but also life threatening. Suicidal tendencies have been reported multiple times in teenagers unable to handle the anonymous disapproval. During such a tentative and vulnerable time in their lives, it is sensible to see why the judgment would be so entirely believed. Teasing in schools has long been an issue of student safety, and internet networking has only opened more threatening doors. What once was only limited to fellow students and teachers is now essentially unlimited. Anyone with the capability to respond within the entirety of the massive online community can leave a hateful comment, tease an individual, or mock any accomplishment with minimal effort and remain unidentified. Despite the risk, the addiction to the internet’s opinion does not seem to be waning nor will it anytime soon.
What may be even more troubling is the fact that, according to research, technology addiction can affect children as young as 4. More and more products are being released that make the use of iPads and other touch sensitive devices simple for toddlers. There is even a small training potty with a holder designed to allow the child to play on a tablet while they sit. Fostering such habits at this early of an age can only lead to dependence later on in life. What should be seen as a helpful device used only when needed or responsibly to pass time will evolve into a necessity that must always be present. Recently, a 4 year old child was named the youngest known tablet addict. She began playing with the device at age 3, and later could not be away from it. If her mother removed the tablet, she became inconsolable and antisocial until it was returned to her. Throughout the year leading up to her eventual treatment, her use of the tablet stretched from moments to around four hours a day, and she showed increased agitation whenever she could not be near it. This is the threat and the risk parents take when allowing their children to be babysat by technology. Without setting boundaries and limitations or teaching children the true purposes of these devices, an addiction can clearly develop. While this child was named the youngest, there are likely more children in her age group suffering from the same symptoms.
Overall, convenient technology has changed the way we communicate with one another. There seems to be a certain digital divide in homes, meaning that the phones are present during family gatherings, dinners, or any other common event that calls for general face-to-face interaction. We are exposed to one gadget or another at every stage of life now, rather than those of us who grow into technology the older we got. This adds to the ever present concern in regards to developing effective communication skills during adolescence and early adulthood; not to mention childhood. It has become a common sight to find an entire table of adults sitting together at a restaurant with their attention lost in their individual devices rather than spread amongst each other. This compulsive need for constant connection has evolved past a convenience into a part of life and, what’s worse, an expected one. It is not at all unusual to forfeit in-person conversation for words on a screen during a night out planned through words on a screen. The addiction affects all of us, from harming personal relationships to taking attention away from the road. It is a widespread desire, and it cannot easily be cured. Treatment itself is still in its infancy, attempting to find a way to turn individuals away from what they consider their only or their most important connection to the surrounding world.