The Impacts of Technology: Our Digital Lives
by Dr. Patrice De La Ossa
Students today are digital natives who have grown up with technology. This is evident in both their learning environments and personal lives. Often these two interconnect and can either be seen as opportunities or challenges.
Center for Talent Development is excited to share a new course, Psychology: Human Relationships and Technology, which provides students and families the opportunity to learn about the impacts of technology through intellectual, emotional, and social examinations of our digital lives.
There is emerging research on how these devices we love so much are impacting our personal and academic lives. For teens, the challenges can be costly. For example, a study by Kent State University suggests that frequent cell phone usage can lead to lower academic performance, higher levels of anxiety, and reduced happiness. Although technology is touted as a means for people to become more connected with the world around us, we do not fully understand the impact technology has on our mentality, nor do we know how to navigate those challenges.
To remedy the common preconception that technology, particularly cell phones, are distracting, many have opted to ban the use of these devices in classrooms. Instead, what we may want to consider is how technology has impacted teenagers’ behaviors and mental processes. At their age, teenagers’ prefrontal cortex, which controls “planning, working memory, organization, and modulating mood,” is still developing (Frontline). As this area of the brain matures, teenagers can “reason better, develop more control over impulses and make judgments better” (Frontline). With this in mind, we may want to consider the ways in which technology may affect teenagers’ mental development.
Learning about how our brains develop, how we connect with each other, and our desire for human relationships in a digital world is imperative. Examining the concepts of multi-tasking, social media, and how we connect online with others is more important than ever as we embark on the integration of two worlds with a brain that is not wired for technology. We have a brain wired for touch, non-verbal cues, and human connection. Although the ways in which we achieve these connections are changing as technology becomes our prevalent method of interaction, it should not entirely replace face-to-face interactions and physical conversations.
Dr. Patrice De La Ossa is a psychology educator, with Center for Talent Development’s online program, and consultant. She works to educate schools, students, and families on how to examine their digital world and the impact on their personal and academic lives.