Stories from the news: the consequences of technology
When was the last time you ...
a) wrote a letter by hand;
b) used a street directory or other paper map;
c) multiplied two large numbers in your head;
d) memorised a phone number that wasn't your own.
Chances are it's been a while, and there's a simple reason: technology means we hardly ever need to. With nine in 10 Australians carrying a smartphone in their pocket, skills that society once considered essential have become redundant.
Prominent British neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, for instance, has long argued that technology is fundamentally altering our brains, and not always for the better. She worries about a world confined to two dimensions, where audiovisual entertainment delivered via screens becomes so prevalent that it leaves no time to develop other senses, and where our attention spans are so shattered by a torrent of information that we can no longer appreciate the beauty of a good story or enjoy a conversation. (source)
This is interesting and I wonder what affect it will have on our children who only know life with technology. They will probably never need to use a street directory or look up a word in a dictionary but how will this affect their thinking in the long term is perhaps unknown.
Neuroscientist Penelope McNulty says . . . "We know it's affecting people," she says. "For example, our memory is shorter and we remember smaller chunks of things. "Think of how many phone numbers you used to remember 20 years ago and how many you can remember now. We just don't need to any more, so we're changing the skills we have. We know how to find information much faster than we ever used to and we possibly have faster filters. "We all know a lot more information about a lot more things than we used to, because we don't have to remember some of those other things like times tables."
I think its all about balance — whilst smart technology is great (and I am currently using it to communicate with you), we also need to use other forms of information so we don't loose this ability. We need to teach our children how to find things in books from the library, from talking to people and not just from Wikipedia (which can often be wrong) and even how to read maps.
If we want to use a recipe we need to demonstrate to our children that recipes can be found on the internet, in cookbooks and those that are passed down via word of mouth from older generations (and written in family cookbooks). It would a very sad day when we only use recipes from the internet and not gather up those from our elders.
Handwriting analyst Ingrid Seger-Woznicki . . . "The lack of writing is reflective of our lack of clarity of communication," she says. "We don't see communication as an art as we used to. Writing by hand forces you to stop and think a bit, and it makes you more aware of how you affect others. Poor handwriting used to be seen as a lack of consideration. "When you write cursive you are wanting to connect with people's minds at a deeper level, and as a society we don't want to do that any more."
Teaching children to write letters by hand is important even if it is a dying art. Buying or making a birthday card, writing a personal message and posting it was once common place, now its a rare act — but one we all enjoy receiving. It will be a sad day when the only way we wish a person happy birthday is via email — it is impersonal and lacks that depth of communication that a handwritten letter has.
Technology has its place and I don't want to live with out it, but I don't want it to rule my life and remove the personal touch we all love but seem to want to avoid doing any more. We need to make wise choices in all things we do and that includes the use of technology.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,