People blame technology for too many problems. This isn’t new, and I’m surely not going to stop it with one article, but stay with me for a couple of examples and then feel free to chime in with your comments below.
Look at the simple case of automated checkouts. These stand-alone stations that let you scan your own items and pay for them all by yourself are popping up in many places. I’ve heard people complain that this automation is causing more unemployment, but it isn’t the machine itself, it’s people’s behaviour. If customers truly valued in-person service and never used the automated checkout, then the places that use them would conclude they were useless and would remove them. So the simple truth that a good percentage of people prefer the self-checkouts (for whatever reason) is the real force driving this automation, and yes, potentially eliminating some jobs.
I also don’t believe that cell phones themselves are making us anti-social. It’s just the opposite. I believe that cell phones are enabling us to do what we really always wanted to do: skip the small talk with strangers. Instead of being forced to pretend that we want to comment on the weather with someone that we’ll never see again, we can text our spouse about tonight’s supper. Instead of asking the crazy bus lady how many cats she has, we can read our children’s Facebook updates and see the pictures they posted. So don’t blame technology for people no longer being interested in talking with other strangers, they’re too busy being MORE social with the people who matter in their lives.
The case of children and their use of technology is less clear; however, when I read articles like this one in Scientific American it makes me cringe. It isn’t that I disagree with their observations. What I’m disagreeing with is their conclusion that technology is to blame, and that somehow limiting time online magically results in healthier, smarter children.
I believe that the kind of parents who are monitoring their children’s time online are also the kind of parents who are monitoring their children’s diet and exercise and their children’s academic performance. Instead of blaming technology, the article should be focusing on giving the parents credit. If they looked deeper they would likely find that the children whose online time was limited were also the same children whose parents made sure they got their homework done and also made sure they were involved in sports or other similar activities.
Don’t get me wrong, I am completely in favour of limiting children’s use of the Internet, and I am happy to say that it’s worked for us. But if you’re the kind of parent that is interested in how much time your children are spending online, then you’re probably doing it right and they’ll be just fine.
About the author:
Todd Trann has been programming computers since 1983, and is a self-proclaimed geek and Dumb White Husband. You can find him on Twitter at @toddtrann.