Technology: Are We Too Connected?

By: Jenna Savage

Every so often, the media presents us with a question: are we too connected to technology? It’s true that most people have some sort of mobile device — if not multiple mobile devices — which they check on frequent basis. I know I personally am guilty of sneaking a glance at my phone in movie theaters and considering a brief final glance at my inbox as important for my nightly routine as brushing my teeth. I like keeping track of what’s going on in the news and what’s been posted on Facebook. I prefer to know that I’ve received an email right as it comes, rather than waiting until I am in front of a computer. I read on a tablet, too. And, unsurprisingly, I am not alone.

A recent CBS News article raised the question of whether we are too obsessed with texting — and technology in general. This isn’t the first time a news article has tackled the issue, but the numbers presented in the article are interesting. According to the author, “Ninety percent of American adults own cell phones, and, whether talking or texting, it seems that 90 percent of the time, they are using them.” The article also goes on to state that individuals who are between 18 and 24 send over 3,000 text messages a month.

The issue, then, is whether being so connected is healthy or damaging. In the article, Sergey Golitsynski, a researcher, conducted an experiment by requesting that students from different areas of the world disconnect from their cell phones for 24 hours. Seventy percent dropped out of the experiment because they just couldn’t handle being away from their phones — an indication that maybe students are a little bit too fixated on their phones.

Meanwhile, texting and phone calls are not the only functions of cell phones — there is also email and social networking. And as we have reported in the past, it’s not always healthy to be so connected to email, and there are also downfalls to the different aspects of social networking.

But I’m not so sure that being so connected is terrible. Yes, it’s true that an inability to go without a phone for a long period of time probably means you’re a little too fixated, and as the CBS News article states, it can distract us from daydreams or reflections, both of which are actually important. But as UCLA neuroscientist Gary Small states toward the end of the article, using technology is actually beneficial, too — it increases frontal lobe activity. Technology also makes it easier to stay on top of current events, news, and important issues.

The trick, of course, is achieving a balance. Technology shouldn’t run our lives, even if it is an integral part of our daily activities. I may always check my email before bed, but maybe — just maybe — I can disconnect long enough to watch a movie or have a dinner date.