In the last few years, technology has been blamed for just about everything. From lack of communication skills to the supposed greater amount of violence in kids. The only thing that I think that technology is to blame for is the growing need for a duck face filter.
In all seriousness though, there are some concerns that technology, especially social media, texting, and video games, have removed the ability of Generation Z (My beautiful generation; anyone born from 1995-present) to actually communicate with each other. Put simply, this is a falsity. Instead of communicating less, Generation Z has probably communicated more than any other generation. The difference is the way of communicating. We are an ever-evolving species and this is just another part of it. In fact, you could probably argue that the use of technology has kept more people in contact with each other.
People who would not have left the house otherwise, are now connecting with people all over the world. Since when could you have pulled up a chair at your desk, let some crazy cyber-punk machine boot up just to get into a chat with 500 other people, all from different parts of the world? That's right, pretty much no other period in history was that possible until the advent of the internet. Sure our social lives consist of sitting on a chair in front of a computer, phone or tablet, but how is that different than sitting on a chair in front of coffee or tea? It's not.
This is not to say, however, that the old form of communication will become lost forever. For me, there is nothing better than taking the Friday off, walking down to the local cafe, and starting up conversation with some friends. There is obviously a crazy difference between face-to-face communication and communication over a chatroom, text or video-chat. Therefore, there should be no worry that social isolation will ever become problematic. By human nature, we need face-to-face communication in order to feel validated. And there is no shortage of this communication. Be sure that if someone needs or wants to, they will go outside, converse, and socialize. Obviously there will be those who stay inside all day. This is not technology's fault however; rather, personality traits are more to blame. There are too many great and influential people to name who were ridiculous introverts: Kierkegaard, Einstein, Tesla. All very influential people, who disliked social engagement. Yet these people lived in a time without computers, ultra-portable cell-phones, or video games.
One must also consider the great advantage of the internet. What if your "a bit off"; different from the rest? It may be hard to find someone in "real life" who you can really connect to. The internet, however, has a seemingly unlimited number of persons. It is a definite that there is someone, or more accurately a very large group of people who share interests.
Technology has allowed people that would normally be viewed as strange or abnormal (Take Lunatics, for example), to be in the company of others that are similar. When you don't feel alone, when you know that there are others out there in the world like yourself then you're more likely to have a healthy mental stability.
I would even argue that because of this widespread connection, Generation Z has a very substantial cultural knowledge. Connecting with people of many cultures lets people learn of different people. More knowledge can lead to greater self esteem, another upside to technology.
We do, however, have to deal with those ever growing violent video games. Are they affecting our children and causing them to be more violent? There is no real clear study on this. Kids will always play war, I don't think any particular video game has changed that. Has it caused teenagers to think that violence is a better way to solve their problems than talking about it, or writing really angst-y blog entries? I really think we can blame the news for that one just as much as video games. At least every time I look at the news, some article about murder, war, or depressing story shows up. In Video Games you are able to explore different worlds, universes, meet people from around the world. The list is endless. If anything, the news is more to blame than Video Games; I would even go as far as to say video games can promote intellectual curiosity rather than violence.
In actuality, statistics have not shown that video games lead to an increase in violence. The media only blames violence on video games because they need a scapegoat. Virtually every teen has played a video game. Whether it be on their Phone, PC, or Console. Video games have become so ubiquitous that they have become easy targets for rogue media outlets to blame a mass shooting on. Just because someone played Plants vs. Zombies does not mean that they will go on a crazy plant rampage.
At the end of the day, there is little evidence that technology effects mental health negatively. The new possibilities that technology has enabled can actually help us connect with cultures and people which otherwise we would never have the chance to. We have all the information of the world at our fingertips; we share, connect and converse with people across the world, at the click of a button. One may argue that technology is improving our mental health, I would argue that technology has become such a phenomenon, that it has become essential for the advancement as a society.
© 2014, insidious All Rights Reserved.