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Technology is in almost every aspect of our lives. Between the use of electric cars, smartphones, smart refrigerators and AI, technology creates more ease and convenience for human life. The question is though, are we too dependent on technology?

Technology has many pros. For example, writing papers is so much easier compared to 20 years ago. All one has to do now is open their laptop or reach for their phone, look up the information on Google and get to writing.

That is just one example of the benefits of technology. Others include, getting to destinations faster and more accurately (the use of cars and GPS systems), not disturbing people with your personal music (headphones), not having to hike eight flights of stairs (elevators) and so much more.

Technology allows quick access to information, facilitates learning, helps break the distance barrier, simplifies tasks, provides entertainment, increases productivity and efficiency, increases life expectancy and creates new jobs.

As you can see, there are numerous advantages that come with using technology. Our society has never been smarter because of technology.

However, the cons of technology might overshadow the benefits of it. Technology dependency is becoming a real problem in our society. An article published in the Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health journal defines digital dependencies as “a person’s persistent inability to regulate digital devices on which they have become highly dependent.”

Tamara Nagelberg, the Program Supervisor for Open Enrollment Classes for Industry Expansion Solutions, an extension of the College of Engineering here at NC State, thinks of technology dependency as “someone who somewhat has their life revolving around technology… and almost can’t live without it.”

Let’s talk about these phones. Growing up, I remember some of my peers would throw a fit if their parents or teachers took their phone away. Many people are so dependent on their device, they can’t even leave the house without their phones.

Vanessa Buck, a third year Business administration major, “If you send somebody without a phone into the world, they’re not even going to know the first thing to do. They don’t know how to figure stuff out for themselves. The first thing they’ll do is say ‘oh, let me Google it.’” Vanessa has some truth in what she is saying. If phones and/or google were taken away from us, how long do you think we as a society would last?

We’ve all seen or heard about movies that depict the United States without electricity and/or technology. For example, Leave The World Behind is described as a “cautionary tale about our reliance on technology” by GQ. It is a visual interpretation of how we, as a society, depend way too much on technology.

One population in the United States, in particular, is being affected by technology in an unprecedented way. Our youngest generation, Gen Alpha. Generation Alpha are “people born between 2010 and 2025…over 2.74 million Generation Alphas are born each week globally,” said DemandSage.

The older generations are witnessing how growing up with an abundance of technology at your fingertips can negatively impact a person.

Many of us have seen children glued to the iPads or tablets that their parents bought them. In some of my experiences, I have seen some children who would only be quiet and stop throwing a fit if their parents gave them a device.

Apps like TikTok haven’t made their experiences any better. SG Analytics said, “Due to TikTok, kids and teenagers have access to copious amounts of information that is conveyed through 30-second videos. This has led to their brain losing the ability to focus longer to absorb information, thereby reducing their attention span.”

According to Healthline, when children have a short attention span, it can result in a “poor performance at…school, the inability to complete daily tasks, communication difficulties in relationships” and cause the children to miss “important details or information.”

Not only does children’s dependency on technology shorten their attention span, excessive screen time can cause “irritable mood, poor focus or disorganization, low frustration tolerance and problematic behaviors such as argumentativeness or poor eye contact” said Dr. Victoria L. Dunkley in Psychology Today.

All the behavioral issues discussed above are a result of overstimulation. Although the child wants to continue looking at the screen, “his/her nervous system is overstimulated and hyper-aroused, therefore causing the brain to function in a state of chronic stress,” said Fierce Parenting.

The short attention span and overstimulation leads one to look at the decline in literacy rates in Gen Alpha. Axios said “fewer students said they frequently read for fun, which is associated with higher achievement.” Axios also said “the average reading score for 13 year olds declined 4 points between 2019-20 and 2022-23 school years.”

I believe the rise and dependence of technology is one of the causes for lower literacy rates. Nat Malkus, the Deputy Director of Education at the American Enterprise Institute, would say the same. Education Week quoted him, saying, “It could just be that actually technology is not the answer for education, but that it’s sort of the enemy…wearing down the attention span that it takes to develop a sense of reading for pleasure.”

Not only has technology dependency resulted in smaller attention spans, and brain overstimulation, but it also has resulted in a new phenomenon: digital addiction. The United Brain Association defines digital addiction as “a harmful dependence on digital media and devices such as smartphones, video games and computers.”

The United Brain Association also said, “studies have found a strong correlation between high-frequency digital media use and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.” Imagine how this affects a child’s brain which is nowhere near fully developed.

So, how can we help Gen Alpha and future generations have a healthy relationship with technology? Nagelberg offers some advice. We should limit our children’s access to technology and encourage them to delve deeper into other creative outlets.