by Hannah Adamson
Teens are often criticized for being addicted to technology and disconnected from real life. While it is true that many teens spend a lot of time using smartphones and surfing the internet, it’s important to note some of the positive effects of using such technology.
Technology can greatly improve education by increasing the ease at which students, like myself, can access information. We can now search thousands of encyclopedias and academic works to find the answers to our questions. This information allows us to move forth with our own scholarly pursuits. I spend a large portion of time working on school assignments on the computer and, thanks to certain apps, I can even complete work on my phone when I’m on the go.
Beyond improved productivity, technology, like social media, can offer platforms for self-expression, personal connections and advocacy. In addition to seeing what friends and family are up to, teens can learn about different cultures and opportunities. The benefits are numerous and should be taken advantage of.
However, technology’s positive effects are only seen when it is used in the right way and in moderation. Having a constant connection to the internet can cause teens to easily become detached from face-to-face interaction. While many may find it difficult to stop using technology, or limit its use, this separation is crucial to maintaining good social skills and self-confidence and appreciating the present moment. While it is nice to share accomplishments and experiences on social media, spending too much time on these platforms can cause teens to become reliant upon others’ approval, most commonly noted by a specific number of “likes” or “followers”. Unfortunately, social media has allowed popularity to be quantified.
Being constantly reminded of what peers are doing and seeing all their positive experiences can also cause people to worry that they are missing out on something or make them feel as though their life is uninteresting. Steve Furtick explains, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” It is important to remember that everyone has their own hidden challenges.
For me, I find taking a complete break from technology during the summer to be most beneficial when it comes to combating these negative side-effects. It allows me to focus on the present moment, connect with people in real life and remind myself that I am in control of my own happiness.
During the school year, it can be difficult to completely remove yourself from technology, especially when it is used in classes and extracurricular activities, but it is possible to limit the amount of time you spend on devices for fun. Try to schedule time each day to relax free from technology. Enjoy having an in-person conversation, reading a book or spending a few minutes outside. As a twist, make a challenge to see who will reach for their phone first when spending time with friends or family. Taking simple steps like these to reduce the amount of time spent looking at a screen has countless benefits and is easier than you may think.
Ultimately, the key to a positive relationship with technology is moderation. Use computers and apps to get your work done and take your education to the next level. Go on social media to see what your friends are up to. Post your latest accomplishment. Just remember to take a break to look up and see the world through your own two eyes not just through the bright lights forming pictures on a screen.
Hannah Adamson will be a senior in high school this fall. She practices meditation and takes ThetaHealing courses with Reshma Shah in Westfield, New Jersey. July 2018