Technology Effects on Youth

Technology has grown from a privilege to an expectation, especially in our youth today. While technology has numerous benefits, such as instant communication, a form of expression, and new forms of art, it also has numerous negative effects, especially on youth as they grow up. It seems as though, in the world we live in today, technology is inescapable; with social media becoming the medium for communication and connecting people from around the world and the internet becoming the most common source of retaining information. Twitter and Facebook offer a replacement for news stations as they offer immediate updates on local and global events. YouTube and Instagram have created a platform of sharing where physical and emotional perfection is an expectation. For most of our youth, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, we are plugged in to the black hole that is our smartphones.

Instagram, one of the largest platforms for bullying, creates an atmosphere where emotional and physical perfection is the standard. With the easy access to a variety of photo editing software, photoshop has become a common step in the process of perfecting a picture before it is posted for all of the world to see. Whether it be blurring out a tiny pimple on a face, or completely altering the shape of a body, photoshop has set expectations for young boys and girls to only show their best self – which may not be their real self. In addition to the physical expectations set by social media, social media also sets unrealistic expectations on our emotions. It is a rare sighting to see a post about how tough a person’s life is; platforms such as instagram, snapchat, and facebook create an atmosphere where its users can share all of their successes – but never their failures or struggles. Platforms like instagram put up a wall of perfection, which is difficult to knock down after the standards have been set.  

While different forms of technology provide us with easy and fast access to news, friends, family, and anything Google can answer for us, this easy access is creating a generation that is addicted to technology. Social media has created a space in which people constantly seek out others validation. Seeking this validation leads many people to wanting to constantly update their followers on the smallest events in their lives. In addition, people often feel at a loss when they don’t have their phone and can’t seem to function without it. Seeking others approval and attention as well as not being able to separate from your smartphone leads to  spikes in depression and anxiety in our youth. Not only does being surrounded by technology for all hours of the day and night affect our mental health, but it also affects how we interact with the world around us.

Whatever happened to fresh air? It seems as though our youth would rather look at pictures of places rather than experience them and all of their glory in person. We tend to live vicariously through others lives on social media rather than getting outside and experiencing it for ourselves. And, on the rare occasion that we actually get outside, rather than taking in the moment and fully experiencing it, we spend a lengthy amount of time trying to capture the perfect picture to post on our social media. Not spending time outdoors can be detrimental to our health and well-being.  Many people, both students and adults, spend their days inside often staring at a computer screen while working under fluorescent lights, and the moment they get home, they retreat to their television screens to binge watch whatever the newest show on Netflix is. Studies have shown that a simple trek through the woods can improve blood pressure and foster better mental health. It is essential for our health, both mental and physical, that we spend time outdoors and away from the glow of our screens.

In addition to the tolls technology takes on our mental and physical health, it also takes a toll on our social skills. Kids today would rather text or snapchat a friend rather than talk to them in person. We use our phones as a shield and it often enables people to be more brutal and frank with what they send to other people, because when you can hide behind your phone, being mean to others becomes much easier. In addition to hiding behind our phones, technology ironically creates a disconnect between people – especially youth. You could snapchat someone all the time, but when you see them in the hallways at school, you don’t even say a polite “hello.” Why is it that face to face communication has become such a struggle for our generation and younger generations? Well, put simply, we think that our phones connect us to people, but in reality they disconnect us.

While, of course, technology provides numerous benefits in our day to day lives, sometimes the negatives outweigh the benefits. We are becoming reliant on our smartphones and the approval from others. We are missing out on what is happening right in front of us because we can’t see further than the glowing screen in our hands. So, now that you’ve thoroughly read this whole article, put down your phone, close your computer, go outside and maybe take a forest-bath if it meets your fancy.