Lost in Cyber Space--The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Media
There is Help for those who need it!
More Information on Gaming Addiction!
In this the age of information, technology touches nearly every aspect of our daily lives in some form or another. From the television that brings us the morning news, the Internet that delivers our emails or the cell phones we use to make calls and return text messages, electronic media are all around us. These wonderfully convenient inventions are so prevalent that we frequently take them for granted. Yet, through their use, we keep in touch with family, are entertained, and even close business deals, all with the touch of a button. They often even help us save time and money. Technology today provides numerous advantages that were not available only thirty years ago. However, despite the advantages of using electronic media there are many more disadvantages because it can waste a great deal of time, be addicting, and even alienate our friends and family.
In a fast-paced global society that lives by the idea that time is of the essence, the very things that we created to save us time often rob us of it. Young and old ones alike, many have immersed themselves in the use of the Internet. Quickly surfing the web can start out by simply checking email and can easily become an all-day event. With so many interesting things available right at our fingertips, it is nearly impossible not to get absorbed. The many and ever popular social networking sites now available on the Internet require much time and effort to build and maintain. They easily draw us into them for extended amounts of time without our even realizing it. Awake! magazine quotes a young woman named Ellen as saying “[…] At first, all worked well. I would go online once a week to look at my friends’ pictures and post comments and read their comments on my pictures. […] Before I knew it, I was on the site all the time” (26). Keeping in touch with friends and family like Ellen wanted, is a normal desire in life, and can readily be fulfilled using electronic media. Texting, another simple way the stay in touch, is now an almost constant feature in the lives of today’s teens who crave the easy, portable, connection it provides. Much to the dismay of their teachers, they can often be seen texting even while in class. Certainly, while occasionally beneficial, texting can also be a huge waste of valuable time and even at times lead to dangerous situations. Julie quoted in Awake! magazine illustrated this well when she said “My friends text all the time--even while driving. How unsafe is that! ” (25). Along with cell phones and the Internet the seemingly unassuming form of entertainment the video game can also snatch away vast portions of time without the player even noticing. An interesting example of this is here, “Ben Alexander spent nearly every waking minute playing the video game “World of Warcraft”. As a result, he flunked out of the University of Iowa” (“Center”). This excessive behavior and waste of time caused by an over indulgence in the use of electronic media points us to another common problem.
There is always the possibility that electronic media can become addicting. This is such a wide spread phenomenon that different phrases were invented just to explain it. The new term “information junkie” now describes those who have a compulsion to surf the web constantly in search of information. It is because of these new types of addictions that web sites and treatment centers specifically designed to help treat web and video game addiction are now beginning to appear. The Internet, cell phones, and video games possess the power to become all-consuming in our lives. Gamers in particular, play their video games continuously with little thought of anything else including the necessities of life. These addicted gamers literally eat, breath, and sleep their games. The book Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects, by Neils Clark and P. Shavaun Scott states, “Sometimes gamers are playing for fun, but sometimes it’s because their brains and bodies are telling them that they have to” (91). Some have immersed themselves in their video games to the point that they have failed their college courses and even lost their jobs. Ben Alexander mentioned earlier even had to seek out “[…] help to break an addiction that he called as destructive as alcohol or drugs” (“Center”). “Game addictions are behavioral addictions on steroids, so to speak” (Clark and Scott 92). When dealing with this kind of addiction the afflicted ones quality of life suffers greatly and normal contact with friends and family often becomes increasingly impaired.
The heavy reliance on various forms of electronic media can even alienate friends and family members. Contrary to the prevailing view on the subject, constant use of email and texting to keep in touch can actually have a damaging effect on relationships. Shirley stated, “[…] It damaged my relationship with my family and even with some of my friends. Now I notice that when I’m out with my friends talking to them, they constantly interrupt and say: ‘Oh, hold on. I have to answer a text message.’ That’s one reason I’m not closer to those friends” (“Young” 25). Texting during conversations can truly affect the relationships we have with the friends we interrupt. It can make them feel that the “guilty” party does not truly value what they have to say. This is particularly true in romantic relationships as well, when one partner is gaming too much or always sending emails the other partner may feel neglected. Indeed, as bizarre as it might sound marriages have even broken up due to; too much time spent utilizing electronic media. It is not difficult to see how the damaging effects might start when considering a personal experience given by Alice Domar, she mentioned a time when she had purchased an expensive pair tickets to a baseball game for her husband’s birthday. The seats were right behind the home plate. They do not get much better than that. However, just before leaving for the ballpark she received an email requesting her opinion on something. To quote her, this is what happened next, “For most of the game, I was glued to my BlackBerry. Not exactly how Dave or I would have chosen to savor that experience” (Domar 96). Like the example of Alice here, some still choose to spend time, texting, surfing the web, watching TV, or playing video games, rather than with friends and family. Unquestionably then, the unchecked use of electronic media can lead to a great many negative outcomes and disadvantages.
Although the use of electronics can be convenient and often entertaining, it can also waste time, become addicting, and even alienate us from our friends and family. Reevaluating what really is important when it comes to the use of these wonderful conveniences available to us, can help avoid the many possible pitfalls and disadvantages that often go along with them. Therefore, moderation is the key where the use of technology is concerned.
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“Young People Ask: Am I addicted to electronic media?” Awake! Jan. 2011: 24-27.
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