From personalized computers in our pockets to self-driving cars, the world is at our fingertips today thanks to technology. Technology has advanced into many areas of our lives, making information more accessible, improving communication, changing transportation, and the list goes on.  While it is easy to sit back and benefit from a plethora of technological advancements, it is crucial we do not become blind to its effects on society. Today, society is hugely reliant on technology and showing no signs of curtailing its dependence. When thinking about technology impacting our lives, what comes to mind may be more extreme than what is currently at play. Small aspects of everyday life in society are changing, or have already changed so drastically that it is merely just a societal norm.

We may not have flying cars yet, and artificial intelligence has not taken over the world, but technology is still influencing society. Something simple to notice on the surface of technologies affects are that people no longer memorize phone numbers. Smartphones and most phones today, in general, can carry hundreds of phone numbers that are all a click away. If you lost your cell phone, and all its contacts, you’d have no idea how to get in touch with anyone.

How often when you see a beautiful sunset do you take out your phone and take a few pictures? With such easy access to phones, especially smartphones, people aren’t living in the moment. When seeing something we like, or want to remember, we remove ourselves from the moment to snap a picture and share it with our friends. Slowly we are living in hundreds of other people’s special moments instead of our own. Small invasions of technology like this are not something that will be the end of the human race as we know it, but small encroachments of technology into our lives is slowly changing society.

Many people wonder about how society and technology will mesh; this concern is only amplified when it comes to children. Children are being exposed to screens at an early age, spending time in front of laptops, televisions, and other technology. This has changed how kids interact socially. Children today can text or message their friend online to communicate rather than just going and knocking on their door. Research done by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that kids are spending more time in front of screens than ever, which may be affecting their ability to empathize and recognize someone’s emotions. The study found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions, and computers. One group of kids was allowed the use of their electronic devices over a five day period, while the other group was not. The study concluded that children who had no access to their electronics over the period were better at picking up emotions and nonverbal cues of photos of faces than the group that had access to their electronics. The increased face-to-face interaction that the test group had made students more aware of distinctive facial expressions.

Technology can make our lives easier, but with each benefit comes a potential cost. We can still advance technologically without impacting society too immensely by understanding these costs and minimizing them. There is a balance that needs to be found between correctly using technology but knowing when to turn it off. Finding this balance is in the hands of the people though, and will ultimately influence our society for generations to come.


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