How Much Technology is Too Much?

July 27, 2008 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

My classmate, Shannon, recently blogged about internet safety, including online bullying that has led to the suicides of at least three teens. Almost 30 percent of tweens and teens have reported being the victims of cyberbullying. Shannon also wrote about the growing occurrence of online gaming addictions.

This got me thinking about the other consequences of living in a time of technology saturation. When I think back to my childhood, most of my memories aren’t of me pecking away at a laptop, chatting or texting friends, or playing video games. They’re of me running around barefoot in the backyard, riding bikes with my sister through the neighborhood, playing street hockey in front of our house, reading books under (or in) a tree, and playing dress up in my mom’s old clothes.

Are kids today missing out? How much technology is too much technology?

It’s no secret that we have a childhood obesity epidemic. The rate of obesity in kids ages 6 to 19 has more than tripled over the last 25 years and one in three U.S. kids is overweight or obese. A recent study revealed that by age 15 a majority of teens are moving less than one hour each weekday. It’s so bad that the American Academy of Pediatrics has raised the possibility of drug treatment to lower cholesterol levels in kids as young as 8 years old.

I’m not pointing the finger solely at technology. I realize it’s just one of many contributing and interconnected factors that play into the childhood obesity problem. But there’s no question it’s a factor, and this dilemma is one that our society needs to solve soon.

I also wonder what other, perhaps less ominous, consequences pervasive technology might have on children and on our society in general… A website tracks some of the skills, like dialing a rotary phone, that technology has rendered obsolete. Will writing with a pen someday make it to that list? Do kids today even know what a phone booth looks like? Are kids’ diaries with those little locks and keys even made anymore? And what about books? My classmate, ATW, blogged about reading her first novel on her Kindle; she says she’s “hooked.”

What struck me was her following description:

I was sitting on the plane and struggled to resist the urge to physically turn the page. I honestly kept lifting my right hand to the top right hand corner of the device.

As weird as it may seem, I don’t know if I’m ready to give that up! I love the smell of books, turning down the page corners to mark my place, and the sight of books of all shapes and sizes lined up on my bookshelves.

Technology helps us accomplish great things, but I hope some things like books, newspapers, and kids playing outside, manage to stand the test of time.


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Thoughts from the Top Everybody’s Doing It (Or Getting Others To Do It For Them)

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