By: Isabella Morhaim
Is technology more friend or foe? We often view technology as a gateway to escape our problems and seek control, something we may have trouble finding in our own lives. Having the choice regarding what we search, watch, or even surround ourselves with online gives the impression that we are in control of our technology use. However, the more we turn to our technology as an escape, the more dependent we become on it.
As we become more dependent on technology, time spent on valuable social interactions decreases, hindering people’s ability to form and maintain meaningful connections with others. Describing this phenomenon, GCF Global coined the phrase “loneliness epidemic,” citing technology as one of the biggest factors. Experts believe that “loneliness is as physically dangerous as obesity or smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.” The article further reinforces the emotional harm some may suffer as a result of their technological dependence by stating, “A University of Arizona study supported this idea, finding that smartphone dependence predicted a higher rate of loneliness and depression in young adults.”
Technological dependence can also turn into a kind of addition. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine describes the addiction crisis many are facing. Johns Hopkins Medicine states: "Data suggest that children and adolescents who spend more time on electronics do have increased rates of anxiety and depression…There is debate about whether or not you can have an addiction to a cell phone. But, it seems that there can be an addiction, as many compare devices to mini gambling
Despite the negative consequences of technological dependence, it is important to remember that technology is not all bad. In fact, it can be used to find resources and get emotional help. From this, we can learn and practice a healthy balance between technology and social interactions. The internet has become a great place to seek help by providing access to mental health resources, creating a space for platforms used to form connections with others and supporting freedom of self expression. However, this does not negate the fact that technology may have contributed to our need to seek these resources in the first place.
The more we surround ourselves with technology, the more negativity we bring upon ourselves. Being away from others and not participating in social interactions can make us feel more alone than ever. Relying on social media for our daily happiness and interactions just leads us to become more dependent and make bad choices for ourselves. Some of these choices can be alienating yourself from others or forming negative personality and behavioral traits.
Technology makes us more anxious, due to fewer face-to-face interactions, creating negative social comparisons. A study held in the UK found that people who spend more time online develop negative traits like narcissism. Due to these negative traits, people may find themselves less welcome in social situations.
Instead of constantly being on our phones, laptops, iPads, etc, we can work to cut down the amount of time we spend on our devices. For Apple users, Screen Time is the perfect solution. Screen Time allows users to block apps and notifications for the period of time they want to be off of their devices. Screen Time also provides a time limit that will remove the user from an app for a certain amount of time, so they can get back to creating meaningful connections. For Android users, using App Timer also creates a time limit for programmed apps.
Rather than ruminating on all of the negatives of technology, we have to realize that there are other alternatives. No journey will be easy, especially when it involves devices we are addicted to. However, in the end, we will be able to create more meaningful connections that are worth the 30 minutes to an hour app limit.