Technology has undoubtedly advanced society on a broad scale. The creation of the internet has connected the world in a way that was impossible before and technological advancements in medicine have saved millions of lives. Given the magnitude of these enhancements, it is easy to overlook the negative impacts technology can have on our lives. Nevertheless, there are many problems created by technology that need to be acknowledged. Two major issues with the growth of technology going forward are its unequal distribution amongst socioeconomic groups and its negative impact on mental health.

Computers and tablets have become mainstays in classrooms across the world and have come to be seen as a necessity for education. For example, when a teacher assigns a research essay, it is assumed that the student has access to a computer and the internet in order to type that essay. The problem with this is not all students are of equal economic backgrounds and therefore do not have equal access to technology. This means that while some students can go home and do their work, others cannot because they lack internet or computer access. This is evident in a survey conducted in Madison, Wisconsin where only 78% of low income students were reported to have access to the internet while 98% of those who did not qualify as low income had internet access (Godar). This discrepancy represents a clear disadvantage suffered by low income students. In this way, the unequal distribution of technology is harmful.

Those who do have constant access to technology, such as cell phones and social media, also experience harms. The rise of the internet has fostered a dependency on social media and a deterioration of mental health. Several studies have shown a link between the use of social media and developments of depression and anxiety (Jones). Concurrently, studies have shown that those who frequently use apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter reported feeling less happy overall. While more research needs to be done to prove causation, the link makes sense. Social media encourages its users to compare themselves to others, often resulting in a lack of self esteem. Further, it allows people to torment others behind the safety of a screen. In some  cases, the bullying facilitated by technology have led some users to take their own lives. While this is extreme, it is important to note that technology is not always a force for good.

Both instances relate to C.P. Snow’s sentiment in the New York Times that technology is tricky because “it brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” Computers and devices have facilitated education but it has also put some at a disadvantage. Additionally, although cell phones and social media are able to bring people together in new ways, it is also detrimental to its users.

Sources

Godar, Bryna. “Madison Schools’ Technology Access Survey Reveals Disparities by Race, Income.” Chippewa Herald, 17 Feb. 2015, chippewa.com/news/local/education/madison-schools-technology-access-survey-reveals-disparities-by-race-income/article_47c806e1-1d14-527b-badc-916a0e389afb.html.

Jones, Alison. “More Technology Use Linked to Mental Health Issues in At-Risk Adolescents.” Duke Today, 2017, today.duke.edu/2017/05/more-technology-use-linked-mental-health-issues-risk-adolescents.