Is Technology Really the Problem?

Everyday, the world gets gifted with some sort of new technology, whether it be helpful or not. Most of the time, the new technology has many upsides and capabilities and that attracts kids. when kids and teens get their hands on new technology they tend to become addicted for a while and parents and adults seem to blame technology for having a negative impact on a kid’s life. Danah Boyd wrote, “It is easier for adults to blame technology for undesirable outcomes than to consider other social, cultural, and personal factors that may be at play” (Its Complicated, p.99). The thing is that Boyd is right. Yes, maybe technology is part of the reason for bad outcomes but I think it does not have a big enough impact to be the reason for bad things happening and I think adults do not understand that technology is part of kids lives now. Back in the day a lot of the technological things (Iphones, xbox, Ipads, tablets, etc) did not exist so adults were not capable of experiencing the same things kids do today, so when they comment about how technology is bad for the younger generations, they are arguing from a stance where they never got a hands on experience. I do think that society plays a big part in undesirable outcomes because the people in society have created a new norm of how to live and if someone does not live the same way then their considered an outcast so I think that all these expectations placed on the younger kids pressure them into becoming something they truly are not or they do not show their real identity.

Another thing Boyd wrote about was how children in today’s day and age are becoming addicted to technology, comparing it to drugs and alcohol abuse. I think that is going a bit over board with the comparisons because yes kids and teens tend to always seem to be on their phones and laptops but by doing that they’re still not causing harm to their bodies. In this little segment, they talk about how young people are not necessarily addicted to technology, but they over use it instead. Again, I have to bring it back to the fact that older people grew up in a whole new generation with less technology available to them so they don’t quite understand how life has changed dramatically and everything is so much different compared to their time period.

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The Kids Are Alright

After reading the first half of danah boyd’s “It’s Complicated”, I decided that I have been introduced to a somewhat more objective view of how and why people, particularly teens, use the internet and social media. Whereas Carr takes the position that our use of the internet is inherently negative, boyd provides a much more balanced argument and puts our use of the web and social media into a social and cultural context. Moreover, I am enjoying boyd’s work better thus far because she neither celebrates nor bashes the internet. Instead, she simply analyzes why people hold the views that they do regarding this technology.

Although boyd discusses several different topics in each chapter in the first half of the book, her analysis of teens’ perceived addiction to the internet in chapter 3 really got me to think about my own use of social media. Specifically, she says that the media becomes carried away with the idea that our use of sites like Facebook and Twitter is unhealthy, and even leads to addiction. Furthermore, boyd claims that parents and the media worrying about teens’ use of different technologies is not new. “Parents in previous generations fretted about the hours teens whiled away hanging out or chatting on the phone” (boyd 79). I found this to argument to hold merit, just from conversations with my own parents. My mom reminisces about how she used to come home from school and talk with her friends for hours on the phone, gossiping and joking and such, much to my grandmother’s dismay. In fact, the song “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie is a good example of how teens used to constantly call their friends using the telephone. In the song, the protagonist keeps attempting to call the guy she likes, but he won’t answer because his mother is there. While we don’t know what the intention of the call is or why the guy’s mother is discouraging the call, the song represents teens’ longing to use the telephone (long before the invention of social media–the song came out in 1978) and parents’ worries about the use of the telephone, even back in the late 1970’s. In conclusion, while my parents have never discouraged me from using social media or the internet, the number of times I’ve been told to take a break from being on the computer or on my phone is more than I can count.

As I continued to navigate through boyd’s argument in this chapter, I was also struck by one of the reasons she provides for why teens use social media so often. Using her interviews with several teenagers, she claims that the use of social media helps them unwind after a long day. “Social media introduces new opportunities for housebound teens to socialize and people-watch, but it also provides an opportunity to relax” (boyd 91). I can personally relate to this quote, as many times, when I find that I have been cooped up all day doing work for school, I enjoy scrolling through various social media feeds before bed. Although staring at my phone or computer prior to sleeping is not necessarily good for my eyes, it certainly helps take my mind off the countless hours of work or studying I had been doing for class. I would say this use of social media is far from addiction. Perhaps I use social media as a remedy to the mundane activities of homework, but this is nowhere near what could be considered a problematic degree of usage. As the band The Who sang in 1965, “The Kids Are Alright” (Though I’m certain the song has a deeper meaning).

Class, Wed, 3/01

Media Feeds

Questions About Responses, Using Audio

danah boyd, It’s Complicated

danah_boyd_12776738645
Willow Brugh, Wikimedia Commons, 2014

In groups: Quickly develop a précis of the chapter you’ve been assigned. Be able to identify the following keywords and concepts.

  1. Identity: invisible audiences, identity performance, impression management
  2. Privacy: persistence of content, steganography, surveillance
  3. Addiction: limited freedom, sociality, agency

I’ll ask you to compare notes with the class as a whole.

To Do

  1. Thurs, 3/02, 10:00 am: Post your  first response to boyd.
  2. Fri, 3/03, class: Read and post comments on the pieces written by your group members. Please also read Chapter 2, pp. 11–25, of Fenton and Lee.
  3. Mon, 3/06, class: Finish reading It’s Complicated.
  4. Wed, 3/08, and Fri, 3/10: We will hold class in Room B of the Student Multimedia Resource Center in the basement of Morris Library.