Danah Boyd explains in her novel, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, that there is an inherent difference between technology addiction and overuse. In today’s society, the term addiction is thrown out without second thought by concerned parents whose teens are seemingly consumed by technology and emerging digital cultures. Although I want to believe that I maintain a balance between my online and offline lives, I am aware that my online activity is taking up an overwhelming amount of my day, and creating excuses to put off face-to-face interaction. I’ve noticed that I shy away from confrontation and rather submit to a technological interaction to solve problems. This isn’t a healthy way to live life. Where is the personal growth and development? This is what concerned parents should be worried about: how technology is a limiting agent to offline interactions and is beginning to replace traditional forms of communication, instead of monitoring their children’s actions are online.
In the YouTube video, “Digital Insanity: Can We Auto-Correct Humanity? Why I Refuse to Let Technology Control Me,” user ‘Prince Ea’ communicates the importance of social interaction in our world today, amidst our obsessions with our virtual lives and personas. “The average person spends four years of his life looking down at his cellphone,” he poetically declares.
However, as a member of this ‘new youth culture’, I’ve recently noticed that this decade is developing a proactive culture. The beginning of the new millennium saw the development of Facebook and other emerging social networking platforms. As the progression of these technologies have slowly incorporated themselves into our everyday lives, people have begun to realize and react to the technological “addiction” and have created movements, like ‘Prince Ea’s,’ to facilitate more real-world experiences, in place of virtual ones.
I have witnessed, first-hand, that this new decade is more aware of this idea and is speaking out to prevent others from ‘missing out on life.’ Peers are now seeing the importance of putting down their mobile devices and are becoming more PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE about their technology use. By no means has this proactivity stopped or solved the problem with technology overuse, however, it is an important step in slowing down the apparent dependence adolescents have on technology today.