Technology Taking Over

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HBO Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley in California is a center of innovation.

Audrey Compiano, Anna Dunn, and Kaia Patel

A growing trend for Silicon Valley executives is refusing to let their kids use the technology they are creating.  Many notable figures are publicly saying they cannot have much access to technology. Steve Jobs did not allow his children to use iPads and severely limited the amount of time they spent on other devices, the Gates did not give their children phones until they were fourteen, and Tim Cook is not allowing his nephew to join social media.  A lot of them send their children to tech-free schools which are gaining popularity in Silicon Valley.

While the schools for the children of tech geniuses are seriously limiting technology, public schools boast their use use of it when they are able to give an iPad or laptop to each child.  After hearing this, one has to consider that if the people making theses devices are reluctant to let their own kids use them, why are they mindlessly given to other kids?

The cost for these types of school is very high which contributes to the big gap between economic classes and the amount of technology consumed.  Children in more affluent areas tend to use their phones for an average of five hours per day, while in poor areas they use them for closer to eight hours.  

Attention span, depression, sleep, and temper tantrums are all symptoms of a technology addiction. In a New York Times interview , Chris Anderson, CEO of a drone and robotics company said in reference of screen time, “On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine.”  Anderson goes on to explain that tech companies are unable to control the brain’s response to screens and that all the games played create a direct response in the pleasure centers of the brain to facilitate addiction.  

Top Silicon Valley execs profit off the addiction, but many of them still warn the public about it, especially in regards to children.  Apple released Screen Time with their most recent update, which allows you to see and manage the time spent on your phone. Users get a report at the end of each week detailing the amount of time spent or wasted on their Apple device in an attempt to make them conscious of when they should put down the phone and reflect on how they spend their time.

Wherever you go, you are surrounded by technology. The phones you’re attached to every second of every day, the computers we do our work on, and now even the cars we drive in; it’s ubiquitous. But in all the excitement that comes over us whenever technology makes our lives the smallest bit easier, we forget about the actual effects that come out of it– the long term effects. Especially how it will affect the future of our world and our children. These effects are incredibly pressing right here in our own community.

Nowadays for parents, the easiest solution to pacify their screaming children is with their iPhone or tablet. You can see this everywhere, such as grocery stores and at the mall. As technology has advanced quickly in the past 10 years, this issue has become a lot more prominent. Unfortunately, it is very common for parents to use this tactic, rather than finding a educational or active alternative way to occupy them.

I, for one, did not experience my parents handing over an iPad with games and TV shows to appease the short-term attention span that children tend to have. Instead, we were encouraged to play outside, read books, play with dolls, explore with our neighborhood friends, and engage with our imaginations in order to have fun and create make-believe scenarios. As a result, we were able to more fully develop identities and passions at a young age, building an understand for what activities we found fulfillment in and working our senses as we built mental and tactile skills. Additionally, engaging with the world around us rather than a digital world helped us create a world view at a young age and understand relationships through personal connections rather than the falsities that hide behind screens that lack tone of voice, facial expressions, and human emotion.

The effects of this “easy way” that parents use to occupy their children while running errands is beginning to be seen as children enter elementary school. ADHD, obesity, and mental illness are just a few health concerns on the rise, which directly correlate with the widespread use of technology.

Not only are there health effects of this technology epidemic, there are social effects as well. Verbal communication has been seen to be a weakness in children, and when they grow up, the problem worsen. They are unable to communicate with other people in the workplace, build relationships (professionally and personally), and know how to express themselves verbally.

However, it is not only the parents at fault anymore. Right here in our local community, Green Hope Elementary School is a “bring your own device” (BYOD) school, encouraging children to own iPads and iPhones younger and younger. While some might view this as adapting to ever changing technology, kids become more dependent on devices and used to the routine of using these gadgets at a very young age. This also causes children to believe that these devices are a necessity, urging parents to buy them their own. As a result, these kids are getting devices earlier and earlier, which makes the technology addiction start sooner, preventing them from understanding how to live in the present. Going to school is a pivotal part of child growth and development. These kids are obligated to follow the directions and rules, letting the schools control the new precedent for the coming generations.

As a prominent center for technological innovation, you would think that the children of Silicon Valley’s top executives would be surrounded by the latest technology. However, this has been proven to be false. In fact, in the majority of schools that these children attend, devices are strongly discouraged. Unfortunately, the opposite of this has hit closer to home, where kids are dependent on technology, to the point of addiction. This can be attributed to parents, schools, and the prevalence of mass media in society. How will these kids, addicted to technology, shape the future of our world as they grow up to become the next leaders, teachers, and innovators?