The Bete Noire of Technology: a Student's Perspective

Op-ed

Introduction

The sources of entertainment for today’s technological contemporaries aren’t the lovable Simpsons or the Sesame Street folks anymore. Their problems are far more complicated than begging the parents to stay five minutes past bedtime just to watch Zack and Cody wreak havoc in the Tipton. Gone are the times when reading the Archie comics was so unheard of just because Archie would date so many girls. In fact, holding hands is quite common among 5-year-olds and laughing is maudlin because what’s the point when we have the prevalent ‘lol’.

Is technology a boon or a bane?

Technology- A boon or a bane; is a standard for many debates, but let’s face it, the side of the boons always prevails (much to the disappointment of a hardbound fanatic such as myself). We are all privy to the fact that technology has changed the lives of so many, and of course it has. But the system before the invasion of this non-living element existed for a reason. Life was not confined to the screens of our devices, and the fact that I’m typing all of this on a laptop isn’t exactly helping my case. Unfortunately for me, typewriters are far too expensive and apparently very rare.

Childhood experiences

Most of my childhood consisted of huge libraries, trunks filled with books that varied from the Britannica Encyclopedia to classics like Pride and Prejudice and short stories by Mr. Canon Doyle and Jeffrey Archer (to whom I owe so many nightmares). Apart from this, hours in the local pool, day and night with friends pretending that we had superpowers and could read minds and/or fly. Running around the town, much to the despair of our parents who would take the entire day to track our whereabouts. While this was exhilarating and absolutely pointless, this was still a part of our childhood. Memories were made, worlds explored and experiences gained. What I would give to turn back time and go back to those times is inexplicable.

“Technological Contemporaries”

Regrettably, children today don’t get the same experience with stories, friends, and their imagination. They’re confined to their phones, tablets, or computers, playing distasteful games. Not only does this tarnish their childlike innocence, it teaches them all the wrong lessons. Salon games only teach them that to be beautiful, you require artificial and immaterial products. It sets a body standard and tells them that to fit in, they need to look a certain way, dress a certain way and behave a certain way. As a child, I was taught to understand myself before entering the big bad world. I was taught to accept myself for who I am and do what makes me happy, and not what makes others happy. Why I would need to learn which shade of pink suits my skin best, will never make sense to me. When did it become a life skill to know the right kind of lipstick to use or which Snapchat filter was the best for your skin tone?

Electronics

The incredulity of the younger generation knows no bounds and the fact that parents today aren’t able to change the same, is the beginning to this abyss of problems. I got my first smartphone when I was around 16, and that was because it had become a necessity since both my parents worked, and I was the older child. I saw a three-year-old recently who had a phone before I did. At the age of three, I didn’t know what a phone was except that it was another interesting item I could throw out of the balcony of my ninth floor apartment (true story).

The adverse effect of technology on children

As John Tudor once said, “Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything, except technology.” Children today aren’t aware of the concept of ‘limits’. To them, life is all about crossing lines that have been set for their safety and well-being. Staying up late on the phone, or video calling each other on a daily basis, in spite of living in the next building because, ironically, what’s the point of meeting up when we have phones. When they aren’t taught that certain limits shouldn’t be crossed, even if they are trivial ones, they’ll spend the rest of their life crossing lines being the rebels without a cause or care that they are becoming.

Conclusion

Life isn’t as easily prorated as good and bad, kind and evil or any other form of bi-subjugation. Similarly, technology cannot be as easily classified as a boon or a bane, because it has proven to be a marvelous asset for mankind and has sped up the process of evolution of mankind. However, the way the younger generation is utilizing technology most definitely proves to be a hassle to their childhood. Ultimately automation is an inanimate facet of our lives, and it comes down to how we utilize it. Technology will forever remain the greatest invention of mankind, but how mankind decides to engage with the same, will determine the actual value of this important facet, and finally summate the question whether it is a boon or a bane. It isn’t that technology is a bane to mankind, as much as mankind is a bane to the invention of technology.

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Siya Girisaballa

Siya Girisaballa is a fifteen-year-old Navy brat from India who aspires to become a journalist someday. Owing to her father's occupation she moved around the country a lot as a child and that aspect of her life influences her writing. She's diverse yet simple and her thoughts are an embodiment of her spirit. Through her articles, she speaks the truth however complicated or subjective it might be, and hopes to inspire change in society with her words.