The negative effects of technology are numerous. In Give Us Live our march to progress, we have degraded the natural world. Forests are chopped down, topsoil is washed away, rivers are polluted, and our waste is dumped in the oceans. On the surface, this appears to be a relatively recent problem. If we went back 100 or 200 years, it would seem that humanity treads quite lightly on the planet. At face value, the culprit is industrial technology. However, this is not the case. The culprit is our artistic vision; our artistic vision negatively wields technology. Before civilization, all cultures on the planet saw themselves as belonging to the world; they were a part of it. These cultures had varying degrees of technology. Some were very primitive, others quite complex.
But the negative effects of technology were nonexistent. All technology was exercised within certain natural laws. Civilization changed this. Instead of seeing man as a part of nature, people saw man as a separate and higher order of being. Thus the rest of nature merely existed as a resource for man’s benefit. Due to this worldview, civilization used its technology to subjugate nature. Indigenous societies never did this. Using technology to bend nature to man’s will is what creates negative effects. The negative effects of technology are not inherent in the technology itself; we use it for that is the issue. Although technology is good and has made life easier in many ways, it also negatively impacts. For example, before it was well advanced, kids had a social life called “outside.” With today’s kids, their form of entertainment is the PlayStation, Facebook, Blackberries, iPhones, and Television sets that come with about 300 channels.
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Apart from the kids, many people do not have patience, owing to the high technology levels. The reason is that man is becoming increasingly dependent on technology each day. A good example is a coffee machine known to take a millisecond to dispense coffee. If it takes more than that millisecond, the machine user becomes anxious. As much as people have been made aware of the positive side of technology, they need to be clearly aware of the negative impact on various sectors like communication and education.
Communication has now become instant, and unfortunately, many individuals have not taken the time to analyze its effect on their lifestyles. Those with families have the spouse and the children waiting for them after being in the office the entire day. Unfortunately, such people arrive home, and the next minute, they are on their computers checking the latest updates from Facebook and emails. When they are done, the next thing is switching on the TV. This leaves no time for the family because the definition of the word `relaxation’ has changed. To have thousands of friends on a social network like Facebook is not important, considering that there is no face-to-face interaction.
1. Negative Effects of Technology on Communication
An Omnipresent Distraction
Cell phones and mobile devices allow users to stay connected even when away from their computers. While this can be a great benefit, especially for emergencies, it can also be a dangerous distraction. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer injuries every year in accidents involving a distracted driver, and texting and cell phone use are primary sources of distraction behind the wheel. While it may only take a driver a few seconds to read a text message, during that time, his vehicle could travel the length of a football field without his eyes on the road.
Dehumanization and Depersonalization
Technology can also affect the quality of communication. One of the great benefits of the Internet is its anonymity, allowing users to explore and communicate without giving away their personal details. Unfortunately, this can also lead to users behaving in ways completely different from those in a face-to-face conversation. When the Internet reduces a person to a faceless screen name, it can make it hard for some users to remember that an actual person exists behind the avatar, encouraging hostility and exclusionary behavior.
Technology can create elaborate social networks online, but these can unexpectedly lead to social isolation. In some cases, communicating online replaces face-to-face interaction for users, reducing the amount of time they spend in the company of other human beings. Also, these social networks sometimes replace a small number of strong social connections with a larger number of much shallower connections, leading to situations where a user may have large numbers of “friends” but few actual real-world companions. This can lead to depression and feelings of loneliness, and the lack of a support system can make it difficult for users to reach out and find help for these issues.
2. Negative Effects of Technology on Education
The internet is the real collaborative force within education, as the little involvement of any form of technology does not guarantee substantial effects on education quality. Technology is producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis. “Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.”
Like in all things, there is a golden rule that governs technology’s impact on education -“moderation in everything.” Technology can easily be overused within the classroom, and this can cause negative effects on the entire learning experience. Some of these effects are already seen from student texting and internet usage (school-related and small) during class. There are also increased incidences of plagiarism for assignments and an overall lack of respect for correct language usage within essays. This indicates the effect that technology may have had on the current generation’s thinking abilities and the overall power of the internet.
Changing Learning Priorities
The main effect of technology may be that the children of the future are not concerned with details. However, it is hard to say if this is a good thing or a bad thing in the future, especially with the universal availability of the Internet. The future students prioritize where the information can be found (i.e., via Google) rather than what the information is. The constant stimulation that comes from the internet has also taken away the ability of students to focus in the classroom. A New York Times article showed how constant stimulation by email, text messages, and online video games created a profound obstacle to the focus and productivity of young people and adults, all of which can also be used for E-learning purposes. This stimulation causes a short attention span, and even without the internet as a distraction, many young people struggle to manage time wisely and resist impulsive behavior.
3. Negative Effects of Technology on Health
In the fight to stay healthy, technology can give us an edge. We can use our digital devices to improve our diets, track our fitness efforts, and manage all kinds of health conditions.
Radiation Damage: Cancer
Though cancer cannot be entirely linked to technology, it is most definitely the most dangerous impact technology can have on health. Smartphones release certain radiations that are absorbed by human bodies and which might cause tumors. They say too much with the phone against your ear raises the possibility of you getting a brain tumor by over 80%. Tumors, in the long run, if left untreated, cause cancer. So now you know what the radiations and free radicals are doing to you? Yes, chemotherapy uses technology, too, so maybe you want to be tech-savvy or hold back on the addiction.
Too fat to fit the couch: Obesity
Obesity (Or Tech-obesity like it should be called) is one of the most dangerous impacts of technology on health. Obesity is the unsaid symptom of most lifestyle diseases, from blood pressure to diabetes and hormonal disbalances. So maybe you need to get off that couch and hit the gym, or else you’d be too fat to fit the couch and stare at that screen. Another reason why obesity is linked to technology except binge eating while on the laptop and reduced exercise is staying up late hours. Your liver works its best while you are asleep and hence secretes certain enzymes that absorb fat; however, with the liver function going topsy-turvy, those potato wafers are bound to show on the circumference of your waist, which would probably have too much waste.
Chronic Smartphone Stress
Excessive use of smartphones has to lead to this new type of stress: Chronic Smartphone Stress. You feel anxious by the most ignorable notifications and even more anxious in case there are no notifications. You are constantly on the lookout for text message replies and other notifications from people. You start craving virtual attention, making you not only a narcissist but also not getting enough attention makes you stressed and so high so that it might in the future lead to even depression.
4. Negative Effects of Technology on Society
The more advanced technology becomes, the more it seems to have control over our lives. According to Lee Siegel, “we shop, work, play, love, search for information, seek to communicate with each other and sometimes with the world online. We spend more time online than ever before. People are not arguing about this startling new condition.
Impact on children
It has become a common sight for us to meet a toddler or a kindergarten-going child go about with a smartphone or iPad in his or her hand. Parents allow this as a quick relief from their tantrums and as a means to keep them quiet and engaged. But what we fail to realize here is that if technology negatively impacts adults, this would only be threefold for children who are first-generation users of it. Since our little ones are the first generation to have full and unlimited access to technology as they grow up, the long-term effects it will have on them are yet to be discerned.
Reduced attention span
While receiving daily news in just 140 words or having videos just 10 minutes long has added to our comfort and convenience, the negative impact it holds is reducing one’s attention span from the usual average of 12 minutes to a much reduced 5 minutes! Those who use technological gadgets daily of at least 5 hours have trouble remembering names, birthdays, and often a case- a cooking vessel on the stove.
Compromise on sleep habits
We work with electronic gadgets almost around the clock and stay glued to them for hours at a stretch. It so happens that we work our way around electronic gadgets so much that we unconsciously alter our sleeping patterns accordingly. The online activities draw our attention, and we stay glued to the activities and the constant stream of information that keeps flooding in. Moreover, the sleep chemical melatonin is affected by the glow emitted from the electronic screens. Since sleep is when most of our cells repair themselves, and our body rejuvenates, and our brain processes things, lack of proper sleep takes a toll on them.
5. Negative Effects of Technology on Environment
The effect of technology on the environment is so huge that there are drastic climate changes worldwide. There is damage in global warming, extinction of birds, plants, and a greater propensity for diseases. The summers are getting super hot while the winters are getting very chill. Also, the cold countries are experiencing less cold while hot is experiencing colder and vice-versa. This makes normal living quite tough than usual. We may need to adopt for comforts like air condition system tackle the change. But this will be detrimental to the animals, plants, and climate as a whole.
Increase in Travel
We travel more and also unnecessarily sometimes. By this, we contribute to air pollution directly. We go on tours around the world and even on long drives. This is done even previously when the technology was low. But then the chances of pollution were meager. We relied on horses, camels, and bulls for travel by road. By seas, we relied on large boats and vessels. These methods of travel are time-consuming but are less polluting. But current technology is so advanced that we travel from one part of the world to another in a short time. This is great but has a greater risk for human life and the environment.
Excess power consumption
Power consumption is high due to technology. We use technology in education, the workplace, at home, and even in remote places. We are addicted to television, smartphones, and other gadgets. So we always need electric energy to make them work non-stop. This electric energy is generated by the use of fossil or nuclear fuels on a large scale. The previous man did not need electricity throughout the day. He needed it for night lightning. Now he needs it 24 hours and in all the seasons to keep his gadgets running.
We generate more waste.
We contribute a large amount of toxic waste in the name of technological up-gradation. Previously people used large-sized computers. For this, we needed large monitors, CPUs, separate keyboards, mice, etc. Now we tend to use laptops and tablets for their compactness and portability. They do not have separate parts like monitors, keyboards, etc. So in upgrading to laptops, all the large size desktop computers were disposed into an environment. Similarly, tungsten bulbs were replaced by fluorescent bulbs, which are again being replaced by incandescent bulbs.
While internet access and technology have made communication easy, one can also stay connected for as long as necessary. The problem is that even when having lunch with family, some people are busy with their Blackberries while browsing. To such individuals, they will still claim to be in a close-knit family.
Education has also been affected adversely by technology. For example, any student will confess that Google is a god. They will find details related to any topic that they need to write about. Owing to all the information being readily available, students have turned out to be extremely lethargic. With many colleges, the assignments must be submitted online. Regardless of the depth of a topic, a student needs a few hours online to come up with a good essay.
For most of the civilization’s history, the negative effects of the latest technology gadgets were localized. When the Phoenicians destroyed the forests of what is now Lebanon, the trauma was local. When the Greeks and Romans collapsed due to the exploitation of their land with advanced technology news, the effect was local.
Destruction of the natural environment has been taking place since the birth of civilization, yet it is only now that we see it globally. Our industrial technology has progressed to the point where we can do more damage in 100 years than we could in 10,000. But again, this is not a problem with the technology. It is the fact that our artistic vision sees us as separate from nature that allows us to destroy it.
Be more mindful of the time you spend using computer technology. If you have long conversations with Siri than you do with real people, it’s probably time to put the phone down. Force yourself to have an electronic-free day or weekend. When you go on vacation, don’t take your phone or at least put it on “do not disturb.” Creating balance will help you enjoy the benefits of technology without becoming a mindless internet zombie.