Negative Impact of Technology on American Society
There is no doubt that technology has completely taken over our lives. At home, we have Alexa, Google Home, and other devices whom we can ask any question that pops into our minds. We have our phones and computers that we stare at almost permanently, and we have cars that can drive themselves on autopilot. We can shop online and order food without leaving the comfort of our homes. All these forms of technology have made our lives easier and more efficient, and we use minimal effort for any activity. Communication is almost effortless as we can send texts, make phone calls and video calls in real-time. Many of us would not know what to do without our gadgets and other forms of technology. Technology has brought many positive changes to our lives, but there are also a lot of negative effects. Comparing the benefits and advantages leads to the conclusion that technology has an overall negative effect on American society.
One significant negative effect of technology is its impact on physical health. People spend hours on their tablets, computers, and phones, which affects their bodies in several ways. The American Optometric Association reports that long hours spent on tech devices lead to eyestrain. Some of the symptoms of eyestrain include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck pain. Bad lighting, screen glare, and improper viewing distance are some of the factors that lead to eyestrain. Using smartphones and other gadgets also affects posture and could lead to pain in the fingers, wrists, neck, shoulders, and back. This is due to the bad positions people use when using their gadgets. For children, technology gadgets present additional risks to their physical wellbeing. If left unsupervised, children can spend hours watching videos, playing video games, and browsing through social media. Children need physical activity for proper growth and development. Technology reduces the time they spend on physical activity such as running and playing, leading to problems such as obesity. Obesity creates the risk for other physical illnesses such as diabetes, which are avoidable.
Technology has also changed the way human beings interact. Dr. Azadeh Aalai, an assistant professor at Queensborough Community College in New York, details the negative effect that technology has had on her students. While she was walking to her office, she noticed her students seated on a bench on campus. All of the students were engrossed in their smartphones; none of them raised their heads to talk to one another. Dr. Azadeh explains that she missed the days before smartphones took over the world when her students would have been busy chatting with each other instead of their phones (Aalai 1). This situation is not unique to the college; it happens everywhere. In homes, schools, and public spaces. It seems that people have forgotten how to talk to each other. At times, a person feels like striking up a conversation with a stranger or even a family member at home. Sadly, the person they want to talk to is most likely too busy with their phones. Technology has robbed our society of social skills and interaction.
Another adverse effect of technology is the spread of misinformation. Although this is a problem in many countries, the United States has a particular problem with misinformation campaigns. Technology allows people to interact with thousands of others, and some people use this opportunity to spread misinformation (Akram & Kumar 351). People tend to believe things that they see on the internet without proof. A perfect example of this is conspiracy theories about QAnon. Although people dismissed this conspiracy as mere idle talk at first, the group has grown to influence thousands of Americans who now believe in all manner of false information regarding the inner workings of the government. Another misinformation problem is the anti-vaccination movement. There is a lot of false information on the internet about vaccines causing serious problems in children such as autism, myths that have been debunked by professional organizations such as the CDC. Unfortunately, these misinformation campaigns cause a lot of harm, especially among gullible individuals.
Technology has also affected the mental wellbeing of so many people, leading to mental health challenges. Social media has become a big part of how people connect today. Social media allows individuals to share their thoughts, what they are doing, and keep up with their families and friends. Although all these seem positive, it becomes a problem when people concentrate on social media and create a false narrative about their lives. Social media has created the need for constant attention from others and decreased empathy among people. Vaguebooking is a term described by Berryman and colleagues who conducted a study into social media effects on the mental health of young adults. The study involved 467 young adults who were interviewed about the importance of social media in their lives and its effects on their mental wellbeing. Vaguebooking involves posting vague but alarming information in an attempt to get attention from other people (Berryman et al. 309). When people feel that they do not get approval from social media, they feel lonely, inferior and may even develop depression.
Cyberbullying is another serious issue exacerbated by technology. Many people use false information to create social media accounts so that they can bully others anonymously. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to cyberbullying as they may not be mature enough to ignore false, hurtful narratives spread about them on social media. The Pew Research Center reports that 59% of American teens have experienced bullying on social media. Examples of cyberbullying include name-calling, spreading false rumors, physical threats, and receiving unwanted explicit images and information (Anderson 2). Some teens have even committed suicide due to cyberbullying, meaning that it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Most of the teens involved in the research project revealed that they feel their schools, social media companies, and the legislature have failed to address the problem.
Technology has also affected the attention span of people, mainly at school or at work. Because people spend a lot of time on social media and other forms of technology, they find it hard to concentrate on other tasks at work or school. They feel the constant need to check on their accounts and keep up with new happenings on social media platforms. Short attention spans affect the person’s output and efficiency. A task that might have taken two hours two complete could take six as the person cannot concentrate long enough to complete it. Students may put off completing their schoolwork as they are too engrossed in social media, and they perform lower than they should.
In summary, technology has had an overall negative effect on American society. Although our lives have become much more manageable, the negatives of technology are more subtle, yet they affect our lives significantly. Over time, individuals will see a deterioration in their physical and mental health, interaction with others, and productivity. People have to be more careful with how they use technology to minimize the negative effects and maximize the positives. Society must not allow technology to completely take away our humanity but use it to promote positive interaction between people and improve lives.
Aalai, Azadeh. “Time to Rethink Our Relationship to Technology.” Psychology Today. 5 February 2018. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-first-impression/201802/time-rethink-our-relationship-technologyAkram, Waseem, and Rekesh Kumar. “A study on positive and negative effects of social media on society.” International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering 5.10 (2017): 347-354.
Anderson, Monica. “A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying.” Pew Research Center. 10 April 2018. www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/09/27/a-majority-of-teens-have-experienced-some-form-of-cyberbullying/Berryman, Chloe, Christopher J. Ferguson, and Charles Negy. “Social media use and mental health among young adults.” Psychiatric quarterly 89.2 (2018): 307-314.