{Speaking My Mind} Technology Can Save Us

“… I don’t agree with his belief that technology can save us.  Certainly, it isn’t making us more civilized, and I actually think the opposite is true.”

~Dr Kay Scarpetta: p. 181, Port Mortuary

My Daughter is one of an incredibly small minority.

She represents approximately 1/20 of teenagers at her high school that DON’T have a mobile phone.   Surprised?

And what do they do with them?

They text, sext and Facebook.  They banter, bitch and bully.  They post ratings on the ‘rootability’ of girls.

Disgusted yet?

Travelling last month to my brothers wedding, I took 6 flights.  I had the pleasure (!?) of spending several hours in Sydney airport, while I waited for my (last) connecting flight home. Airports are undoubtedly one of the perfect places to watch people.  One alarming thing I noticed while I watched…

When disembarking their flights, the first thing so, so many of the passengers did was to switch on their mobile phones and beginning texting, phoning and replying to the (undoubtedly??) urgent messages that made their lives tick.

Heads down, fingers moving a mile-a-minute, they were oblivious to their surroundings.

The second thing I noticed…

During only 1 leg of the 6 flights I took, did I manage to engage a single person in conversation.  And it was not for want of trying.  This chap (who happened to be a former cycling champion who now commentates on the SBS) has spent the last 20-odd years living in Europe, and was like me, appalled at the direction the youth of Australia are taking.

Bad mannered, disrespectful of people and property, and, dare I say it, uncivilized.

Is technology partly responsible?

Has this reliance and embracing of technology – the technology that is meant to make us smarter, work harder and learn more – helped to lead to the demise of etiquette, basic good manners and a cohesive family unit?

When you can have an entire conversation with another person online (even while they are in the next room) – through chat, email, text – without ever hearing their voice?

When children in preschool are being given iPads to play with…?

When I have to tell a 7-year-old to put his touch phone away in class while I teach…!?

Sure, I agree that we need to keep our kids up-to-date with technology and its developments.  It is an everyday part of the world that they are going to inherit.  That I don’t deny.

I do question though our reliance on these gadgets.  I wonder what is happening to spelling?  To the art of conversation?  To handwriting?  What will become of these skills – skills that up until recently were valued?

Can technology save us?

I don’t think so.

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2 Responses to {Speaking My Mind} Technology Can Save Us

  1. Katie of Sweet Rustic June 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM #

    A very thought-provoking post.
    I’m 26 and I didn’t get a mobile phone until I was in year 10 or 11 when I needed it just to arrange transport etc, but by the time I was in yr 12 the yr 7s had mobiles & I couldn’t understand the need for it.
    I hate when people talk loudly on the phone in public, in the cinemas or a restaurant. Although I must admit I am the self-confessed Internet addict in my family & I love the connection that you can have with people online on the otherside of the country or the world through blogging, twitter etc but I still go & meet new people & interact with society. .
    My sister in law whilst studying Psychology at uni did an assignment on technology & the benifits or lack thereof to society. Her angle was that it’s actually made us dumber as a society & once interviewed (she had to survey people) I had to agree, I don’t do maths without a calculator, I use spell check at every opportunity rather than a dictionary & GPS has done the thinking for me (although I have a cheap one & it got me lost so I’ve gone back to good ol’ faithful maps). Of course technology helps in science, medicine, communication & in many other ways but I think we have to be very careful how we use it.
    Pre-schoolers using iPads is just crazy, kids are only kids for such a small part of their lives & I think they need their lives to be simple & fun- all that stuff will come later. Tell me, are there programs in school to teach the kids about the dangers of technology & cyber-bullying & predators? I dread the day my 2 yo wants a phone & facebook account & will be very careful what we will let him do online because of all that & we’re certainly trying to instill good values on him.
    xo Katie

    • Tasha Chawner June 24, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

      I’m with you on so many of your points, Katie.

      Working up at the local high-school now, I get to see first hand just what sort of impact things like spell-check and a calculator are having on kids. To the point where there are programs now being introduced to help kids ‘learn’ their times tables…?
      And yes, the kids in school are being educated about cyber-awareness, but I do question here whether it is really up to the schools? Shouldn’t parents be accountable and responsible for their kids when they are online? Schools block so many sites (and believe me, the kids whinge about this), but at home who moniters their use?

      We’ve had to deal with Daughter wanting a Facebook page this year. She was finally old enough to get one, and because her parents are sticklers for rules, she had to wait until she was of age. But there are strict rules attached to this privilege. And she has had her Facebook privileges revoked on several occasions already. I have full access to her passwords for Facebook and her email, and I check them. Regularly.
      But she’s okay with it, because we talked about and discussed the rules and responsibilities of having an online presence.

      I suppose in some ways I’m ‘old-fashioned’.
      A stickler for manners…
      Respecting your elders…
      Looking after yours and other belongings…

      Reading a book is held in high esteem in our house.
      Spending time together as a family – minus technological distractions.

      They’re the things I think that we are as a society losing…
      Getting off my soap-box again.

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