So, I watched two lovely documentries–PBS’ Growing Up Online and Digital Nation–and once again, the gears started turning. I highly recommend that you all watch the videos if you haven’t (they take about two and a half hours all together), but basically Growing Up Online talks about teens who have had access to the Internet during the entirety of their teen years. The video had a lot of implications about how dangerous it was (even though it tried to be impartial). The video really emphasized this whole private life teens have and how potentially dangerous it was. Digital Nation describes a broader demographic of users and discusses the effects it has on humans cognitively and socially. I found Digital Nation to be a more positive and less about the dangers. Of course, watching all of this stuff about technology got me to thinking, so here goes.
In my opinion, it is a little too early to fully understand what technology has done and is doing to us. It may be nearly impossible to because, as one researcher from Digital Nation pointed out, the technology changes too quickly. However, the researchers are making legtimate points: there are changes in the way we do things and it’s affecting human performance. Therefore, I think we need to think and be aware of how we think and feel around these technologies. I agree with Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid when she emphasizes the importannce of trying to understand what we continue to want in the future. Do we want critical thinking skills? Do we want the ability to read a large amount of text? We need to think about what we’re losing and whether it is possible to some way hold on to that we value and also embrace this technological change.
I don’t think technology is inherently bad or good, and we are in the process of understanding fully what this means. I think it has a lot to do with how it’s used. For instance, I have developed a very strong appreciation for the electronic bases and ability to instantly access research articles for papers. I am impressed with the ability to get these thoughts to such a wide range of people, the majority of whom I will never meet in real life. That last point is incredible and makes me feel powerful. I am impressed with its ability to connect so many people; I love being able to keep in touch with my friends and family. But there’s also the other side of the coin: presentation. What of myself am I revealing? I think understanding the consequences of one’s Internet use is very important, and will be significant in shaping the use of such technology in the future.
So, there’s my two cents. Please comment if you have something to say–I would love to get a conversation going!