Teens’ Technology Addiction Has Its Benefits
By Rachael Barthelmes, Intern
Over the past few years teens have been heavily critiqued for their excessive use of the internet and phone. Undoubtedly, the internet and phone have a huge presence in our day-to-day lives, but the effects of using these technologies are not always negative. Members of my generation for example, are said to struggle with having real face-to-face conversation, but I believe that texting and Facebook, when utilized correctly, can actually help strengthen social skills (online and in person), rather than detriment them.
Below I have shared my views on what I believe to be the most prominent pros of teens’ technology use:
Adds Strength and Longevity to Friendships
While texting and Facebook get a bad rep when it comes to communication, the internet and phone are not solely injurious to relationships. In fact these technological devices can actually help friendships form, and deepen ones already in existence. Texting and Facebooking allow us to keep in touch with friends across the street, country, and even globe. With these new communication forms it becomes much easier to stay connected to friends even when we are physically apart. Previous to this new technology, if a friend, for example, was studying abroad you may receive a post card or two but overall lose touch with them. In today’s world we can message them daily, hear about their trip and stay involved in their lives.
From personal experience, Facebook made the transition from high school into college drastically smoother, as it provided me with the comfort of staying in touch with friends from home. Facebook also even helped me make friends when I first started at NYU. “Facebook friending” or messaging someone you meet in a class or at a party is a great way to start a friendship without seeming aggressive. These technologies make it extremely easy to make plans and coordinate meet ups with new and old friends.
Access to Large Pools of Information
With the internet faster than ever and the ability to get online through our phones, tablets and computers practically anywhere we go, we have access to more information than any other generation ever has. While some claim that this can trigger anxiety in teens as a result of ‘information overload,’ the access to this amount of information also provides great opportunities. We can be much more efficient by not having to spend the majority of our time looking for the information but instead we can spend our time processing it. Our generation is more aware of what is going on in the world than ever before; because we have news at our fingertips.
Within the past few years teachers have started to embrace technology in their classrooms rather than ban it, creating a more dynamic and exciting classroom atmosphere. While texting in class is still not encouraged during lecture, teachers have weaved blogs, chat forums, YouTube and even Facebook into classroom assignments.
Through my experience, I have seen chat forums spark very invigorating conversations between classmates and allow students to formulate well crafted arguments while eliminating the fear that often comes along with raising your hand. Chat forums and blogs also encourage students to come to class more prepared because through the assigned online discussion they spent time the night before class digesting the information they read.
Also through the internet it is much easier to foster a closer relationship with your professor. Some NYU professors for example, give out their cell phone numbers for those last minute questions, or offer ‘chat hours’ on instant message. These texts and chats do not replace office hours where students and their professor can meet face to face but rather supplement these meetings. If anything having your Professor’s cell phone number makes approaching them in a meeting much less intimidating.
While I of course recognize that there are many harmful aspects of technology in addition to the pros, I believe it is important to have an open mind when approaching these technologies and focus on using these devices in healthy moderation to reap the benefits rather than dismissing them all together.