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Digital Nation: the Advantages/Disadvantages of Technology

Digital Nation: the Advantages/Disadvantages of Technology

In today’s day and age, my generation is conveniently dubbed “a digital nation” due to the constant development of new technology from cell phones, computers, social networking sites, etc. My peers and I are named “digital natives”, as we have a steadfast need to maintain connected at all times with the use of these mechanisms. Around the world this is being discusses as some people feel that technology has began to have a negative effect on society, and on the other side of the table, others feel that technology has only enriched our lives.

A documentary published by PBS entitled “Digital Nation: Life on the digital frontier,” explores various aspects of life and the different ways our dependence on technology affects it. While watching the documentary the first thing to catch my attention was the way technology affects learning. The onscreen example, MIT, a college institution that houses what many believe to be some of the brightest students in the world, showed how technology has begun to affect the learning processes of students.

This is believed to be because students oftentimes find themselves multitasking, and in a classroom setting where devices such as laptops are allowed and other times required, it is hard for students to focus on what their supposed to. A study performed by a professor at the University of Stanford proved this theory to be true and showed students themselves how their multitasking is actually shrinking their capacity to think. On the other side, technology being embraced in the learning process has been shown to work.

In the South Bronx of New York, a school principal of a failing middle school has assimilated his students into using laptop computers in every aspect of their education. What was once a failing institution is now a prospering establishment where kids seem to enjoy accumulating knowledge. The next section of the documentary focuses on South Korea and how most believe that their youth’s love of online gaming has unfortunately turned into a “public health crisis”.

An interesting point that stuck out to me here was how some people feel this isn’t a problem, but a few people have actually died after performing in gaming marathons due to a lack of food and water. The seriousness of this problem is ironic as it all began as a means for fun for kids, but has now done more harm than good. Many kids in South Korea have been hospitalized, complaining of eye strain, ear complications and other symptoms, all resulting from countless hours spent sitting in front of a computer.

The Korean Government has sought out countless methods to treat this problem such as an Internet Rescue School: a two week camp that strips away all technological instruments and strives to capture a true childhood. In my opinion, my favorite section was the one that talked about the effects the internet is having on relationships between people. One proponent to the internet is that it connects people to others across the globe and allows for countless networking opportunities and relationship building.

However, the internet has also begun to decrease the human need for up close and personal interaction with each other. Also discussed is how gaming allows people to receive an experience other than their personal reality. I, myself, have experienced this in one of the discussed games, Second Life, which allows one to create an avatar and live in a virtual world where you can do things you probably couldn’t otherwise.

Major companies such as IBM have even started to use Second Life to host corporate meetings, much different from the usual round table. What’s different about Second Life is that you are not alone utilizing technology on the internet, your being brought together with others. Depending on who you are, technologically has in many ways either, improved your life or made it worse. This is still a hot topic across the globe due to the countless arguable material both sides maintain.

The digital nation is relatively only a preview of how technology will continue to impact each and every one of us in our daily lives. The only question is will the increasing power of technology enrich our lives and bring the human race to levels it has only dreamed, or will the rise of machinery only make us forget simple human values and do more damage than good? With the countless ways to utilize technology one can be anyone it wants to be and do anything they want to do. The possibilities are endless.