Overdependence on technology creates problems for users


San Diego-based Lytx is using artificial intelligence to detect distracted driving from cell phones and other behaviors in commercial fleets.(Tobias Arhelger/Dreamstime/TNS)

America’s untethered dependency on technology has crossed the chasm of just being a communication device to now being viewed as an emotional crutch to its addicted users. Many equate the release of the first iPhone on June 25, 2007 as the moment human beings fundamentally altered their view of technology. The sheer brilliance of being able to customize a device to be an extension tech of oneself, fascinated its users as well as providing companies and people alike a tool to drive its narrative deeper within the human psyche.

The overdependence on technology has dredged up issues that were virtually unheard of prior to its adoption. According to Spine Health, “text neck” is a new term used to describe the neck pain and damage suffered from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long.

Furthermore, Americans’ reliance on technology has resulted in them spending one-third of their waking hours interacting with a mobile device as reported by CNET. It is no surprise that technology has taken a major part of our everyday lives, when people seem to be tethered to it on a constant basis. Many people find themselves in self-diagnoses with this topic, realizing that they cannot remember the last day that they did not pick up their phone to answer a question they did not have the answer to, or to play a video on YouTube. Through some self reflection of my own, it is safe to say that I am also addicted to technology.

Is it that bad to be addicted? After all, our entire lives are practically run by technology. Take into consideration how banking has evolved over the last decade. Ten years ago, forgetting your wallet at home meant that you were not going to be able to buy anything without it. Fast-forward to today, to the dismay of my mom, my dad relishes the opportunity to prove his technological prowess when paying with his Apple Watch after forgetting his wallet. He never fails to embarrass in those moments, and always accompanies this action with a terrible dad joke, saying something in the lines of, “I feel like I am Dick Tracy sometimes, am I right?” Who is Dick Tracy anyway? Adversely, all this accessibility to our personal information has exposed us to a completely other risk, cyberterrorism. It is chilling to think that according to AARP that 1.4 million people reported their identities stolen in 2021, which nearly doubles that of last year.

Let’s face it, technology has become increasingly more accessible. It is virtually found in every direction you look these days. It has undoubtedly transformed the way people live their lives. Many believe that our reliance on technology has afforded us incredible advancements in the way people live their lives. It is hard to ignore the fact that the average life expectancy of a human has risen almost 40 years from one century ago, with the average lifespan being 73 years of age in 2022 according to Our World Data. However, people rely too much on technology to fill in the gaps due to our society’s growing incompetence. Take for instance that motor vehicle deaths are at their highest in 13 years, which is primarily due to malfunction in advanced technology according to the National Safety Council.

Those people who are in favor of increased use in technology state that children are showing vast improvements in their education when using technology. This in turn has allowed them to gain access to a plethora of information, increased creativity as well as affording them improved

communication to the outside world. On the contrary, this access has brought upon free reign of information, giving people a way to publish anything whether it being true or false. In turn, a day has not gone by where we are hearing some sort of gossip or fake news about a current event. If you were to invest a dollar for every time you heard the phrase “fake news,” your net-worth would rival that of Jeff Bezos. Being able to detect what is actually true, has created significant challenges to the ethicacy of the information that children are ingesting on a daily basis. So are we getting smarter or more gullible?

Let us take a step back by focusing on the foundational effects of technology, and how it has affected our cognitive function going back to early adolescent years. Parent’s willingness to subject a baby to technology has been linked to altering their personality, actions, and even health. According to Qustodio Recent Research, increased screen time has negatively affected social skills development in toddlers. Additionally, the more time they spend interacting with technology the more their social development suffers in the areas of relating and interacting with others, compliance with directions, and ability to help others. Also, levels of disruptive social behaviors, such as being bossy or bullying, increased with more screen time.

Those people that oppose the restriction of technology, say that we are progressing as a society through the means of artificial intelligence, and machine learning. In turn, we are becoming too comfortable basing our decisions solely on the outcomes of the technological data.

People in favor of technology enablement believe that it makes communication easier and more attainable. Adversely, making communication easier also increases people’s dependence on their devices, which alienates physical or verbal interactions with people. This in turn, results in people opting to text or send an email in avoidance of direct communication.

There are several solutions that can help with overcoming technology addiction. The first is to apply limitations on the amount of time spent using technology. Apple themselves, arguably the company responsible for this addiction, embedded a software feature that tells its users how much screen time on average they use their devices in a given day or week to help curb technology use. In response, several companies have developed applications to help its users to customize a set of rules to monitor use.

Secondly, many people are encouraging more balanced use by offering rewards when not using technology. Take for instance myself, for every one minute I read, it earns me one minute of screen time. This little change in behavior has shown me the additive nature of technology, and how it was used as an emotional instrument rather than a tool to improve my growth.