Nearly every teenager has heard parents, teachers and others complain about how teenagers are spending too much time on their cell phones. Whether or not you agree with this statement, criticism from our elders frustrates all of us. Each generation has its defining characteristics and is influenced by current trends and technology. Communication improvements have shaped the world as we know it, defining the way our generation behaves.
As the “test generation” for all of these innovations, teenagers and young adults today have adopted social media into their lifestyles. Most of these individuals utilize their phones and social media to its full potential, and have developed a strong dependency on technology. This has its advantages and disadvantages, especially because our phones are unreliable at times. A faulty server, lack of Wi-Fi, or a dead battery can instantly prevent us from accessing these tools, leaving us missing a crucial asset of our daily lives. By consolidating important information, contacts, schedules and communication into one place, we can risk losing it altogether.
Technology’s complexity also endangers our safety, as our phones and cameras automatically leave an imprint of our location, which can be accessed by other people. Updating statuses can be an invitation for unwanted situations, since criminals can monitor your plans instantly. Also, maintaining a good online reputation has become essential to applying for colleges and jobs. The Internet is able to retain all information we post, and this often backfires as opportunities are lost because of this. For these reasons, older generations are more resistant to the use of technology, and tend to believe that life was easier without these precautions that teenagers must take today.
Teens’ opinions on the subject vary from person to person. Most have neutral opinions towards social media, but some people have radical beliefs. “Technology is the antithesis of mankind,” said sophomore Eric Schank. As much as we hate to admit it, critics of technology and social media have a point: our phones are beginning to consume socialization.
Almost every group of teenagers you observe have their phones in their hands as they engage in conversation (if they are talking at all). There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but if one person doesn’t have their phone or chooses not to use it, they enter a one sided conversation. Also, phones are very distracting when trying to participate in a discussion. If your friend has a serious topic they wish to bring up with you, such as seeking advice or just needing someone to listen to them, their feelings will get hurt if you are not actively listening.
Social media has certainly helped us and hurt us, but it’s possible to reach an effective balance between technology and interaction. In order to do so, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure that your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are being utilized and try to clean up any content you have posted that you wouldn’t want a future employer or a college admissions office to see.
- While texting is great, make sure to meet up with your friends often to keep the relationship strong and healthy.
- Try to turn off your notifications when you’re engaging in an important activity (doing homework, having one-on-one time with a friend or driving).
- Only use social media platforms if they are benefiting you. If you really don’t enjoy the atmosphere of Instagram (worrying about likes and followers) or are frustrated with Snapchat screenshots, consider deleting the app for a while.
- Be aware of other people’s feelings online. While this is often unavoidable, try to refrain from making other people feel excluded, especially when you’re with a large group.