tech-story2Technology’s presence increases in teens’ lives

By Marisa Patwa, ’12, and Lina Al-Khatib, ’10

Senior Beth Roys is the star of her own sci-fi film gone wrong in which technology seems to be taking over the world. She wakes up to the tune of her alarm clock followed by another on her cell phone. Roys immediately checks her phone for new text messages and promptly responds to them. She then turns on her computer to check her email for new messages and Facebook for any new notifications. Finally, she makes her way over to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

“[Teens’] conversations never end,” said Lee Rainie, founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit organization that studies the social impact of the Internet. “And anytime a sort of new input enters their lives-—gossip or real news—they have the capacity to broadcast it to a wider group.”

Georgette Constantinou, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, said she believes teens’ social skills could suffer if they continue to use technology in excess.

“Teens who use the Internet and texting for virtually all of their interpersonal communication may become more uncomfortable in face-to-face communication,” Constantinou said.

Constantinou said teens that regularly communicate through websites such as Facebook may find it hard to establish friendships with their peers in the physical world and could develop a false sense of security.

“For some kids, it becomes addictive and they cannot disconnect themselves,” Constantinou said. “The Internet becomes their world, and it is a fantasy world.”

Roys, on the other hand, said she finds it comforting to escape from reality and express herself through the digital world. It is not just Facebook that Roys loves so much; she is also attached to her cell phone.

“My cell phone is like an extra appendage for me, and it is something that keeps me busy and distracted,” Roys said. “It’s my comfort object.”

Constantinou said she thinks parents should be wary about their teens relationship with technology. If a teen exhibits symptoms such as being reserved, withdrawn, or claiming to be unable to function without a phone or computer, parents should consider setting some boundaries.

However, senior Miles Price has a different view of technology. Price said he has the self control to limit his use of technology when necessary, but he also admitted that it is sometimes difficult to restrain himself.

“We are attracted to technology, like most modern things,” Price said. “It simplifies our lives and allows us to absorb so much more information with much less work.”

Like Roys, Price said he checks his Facebook several times a day and cannot go more than a few minutes without checking his phone.

“Social networking gives us a sense of interconnectedness. We feel more in touch with people that we normally would not be in touch with,” Price said. “Our social lives are allowed to thrive 24/7 in a virtual, yet real-time environment which we are free to access at our leisure.”

In a world where technology replaces many previous forms of communication, students are left to make their way through the virtual realm of tweets and texts.