Life in the Digital Age Why our current generation's obsession with digital technology is causing more harm than good | Opinion by Adam Hauser

Prior to Apple's release of this first iPhone in 2007, the world was a much different place. We didn't have GPS, tablets, smart watches, and social media readily available all times of the day, objects that dominate culture and control every move we make. You couldn't stream any show of your choosing, access the latest news within seconds, or communicate with a few taps of your thumbs.

Back then, the world moved slowly, a snail's pace compared to the speed at which we currently deliver and receive information.

The era we live in now, known as the Digital or Information Age, is a time where the Internet, social networking, and online communication reigns supreme. It has shaped us as human beings and dictates the way we act and think. While this may come as no surprise to most, society is becoming increasingly dependent on these forms of technology as we grow and evolve. While today's culture of systematic oversharing and universal access of information does have its benefits, I find that there are many things wrong with the rapid integration of digital technology, especially the social aspect, into our daily lives.

When a child grows up in the Digital Age, they are thrust into a world where they can access a seemingly infinite plethora of information across a wide variety of topics and formats. This information overload pushed on kids at such a young age will force them into an addiction or an outright rejection of our socially accepted pattern: Staring at your advice, doing your absolute best to ignore the people around you.

This is a problem, and its revolutionizing the way people interact. Normally, when people think of a revolution, they imagine the American Patriots freeing themselves from British rule in a heroic act of bravery and valor. This scenario, however, is quite the opposite of the situation in which we currently find ourselves.

Instead of courage, the emotions utilized by the common person in the Digital Age are insecurity and fear.

What type of fear, you might ask? Fear of rejection. When someone logs onto a social network, they are exposed to the profiles of all types of people. Many of them are friends that you know in real life, but social media and the internet are abound with strangers whom you seek a false sense of validation from.

As people who want to be liked by others, it is only natural to avoid rejection by presenting your ideal self. And this is where the insecurity stems from. People, especially teens, view social media and online communication as their whole world, where their self-worth is measured in likes, views, and followers. This is not a healthy approach to life because it gives you tunnel vision, completely blocking out what's real and what matters: People who you actually know! Talking in person and meeting in real life is the only way to go, at least in my book.

"You got to have some sort of connection with the real world. it's probably not healthy if you're completely addicted to it," freshman joseph sharon said.

So, how can we hope to create a new generation of healthy, happy, and refined human beings if kids are learning how to hide their flaws and avoid social interaction altogether from a young age?

The article "Social Media's Flaw" from a previous Squall issue addressed this problem by saying Social Media "creates the misconception that interaction through the internet is just as good as authentic interaction." This is something I agree with, particularly because it highlights the fact that people would prefer to communicate online than face-to-face. This is partly because communication through the internet creates a no-consequence culture, one where young people are learning to post things they wouldn't say in real life, allowing them to avoid considering the feelings of others.

"There's not as much pressure" Sharon said. "You know, you can get people's honest opinion if you developed a real relationship with them."

Again, this is nowadays considered OK behavior, a baffling thought, especially when you consider how much we've changed as a result of the technological changes. These young kids are offered hours upon hours of access to the internet, youtube, video games, etc. because parents are often unresponsive when it comes to monitoring their child's "screen time".

Naturally, the kids will follow their parent's example and they will continue to believe that their adherence and acceptance of these cultural benchmarks is not harmful in any way. Therefore, as the child becomes older and ages into a teenager, they will continue to believe that their usage is healthy because it was ingrained into their minds at an early age.

Now, of course, most parents don't allow their children or teen to have 24/7 unrestricted access. It goes without saying that parents will address a problem if they see one, especially concerning something as important as their kid's well-being.

However, parents of late millennials and Gen Z'ers haven't been exposed to this technology their whole life like teenagers have, so it is something relatively new to them. Parents believe it's just the way things are and that they have to accept this change. They might now realize the negative effects that staring at a small screen for 6 hours a day has.This is the precise reason as to why parents are buying their children smartphones at extremely young ages, marking to start of a vicious cycle that is bound to continue with the next generation.

if you were lucky enough to understand the world before the time of cell phones, you probably got lost, carried a Walkman around, and had a rolodex. Maybe you listened to your home radio and consulted an encyclopedia for information. But that is not the case anymore; smartphones changed all that. These things were essentially eliminated from daily life because of a small, metal rectangle that fits in your pocket.

While this technological shift marked the beginning of an era where people enjoyed a higher quality of life, it also opened up a door for people to become reliant on only one item.

Just as a species dies off quickly without genetic variation, the rise of digital dependency may very well be our downfall if nothing is done to address this issue.

As people who are blessed with the form of communication, we must take advantage of it and utilize these resources only when they are necessary. Only with moderation can we use our cellphones and still lead a healthy lifestyle.

The short-term conveniences that the Digital Age provides are minor compared to the effects they have on emotionally vulnerable teens. As we go into the future, I hope we can look back and realize that the Digital Age promoted a national culture of ignorance where we stopped expressed emotions such as empathy and compassion. We don't do that anymore; we can't feel as much because of the shallow way we interact.

It's time to realize our flaw and start connecting with one another off the screen, because we are all better off in a world where the people are not left to their own devices.

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