The advent of the digital technology has drastically changed the way people interact with each other. It is no longer necessary for individuals to meet physically so as to enjoy the benefits of social relationships. Today, internet users can spend hours on end exchanging information and social pleasantries from the comfort of their locations without struggling to meet the persons on the other end of the social network. The ability, for instance, to send instant photos and messages using the smartphone technology has revolutionized the ways of social interactions. Also, through the digital technologies, Internet users can make video calls to each other, improving the authenticity and satisfaction of the conversations. These technologies are so pervasive in the modern society that people consider digital platforms a vital component of socializing. In spite of the benefits, the digital technologies have presented several debilitating consequences on the lives of the users.
The digital era has instilled a culture of a multitasking among heavy internet users. These persons engaging in multitasking often do it oblivious of the dangers and health implications of the practice. The new digital behavior has been likened with smoking in the sense that people who multitask are so addicted to the behavior that they do not regard it as harmful. Available research shows that multitasking in the digital era has several adverse outcomes. Notably, the practice has been associated with the increase in stress levels among working persons. Since internet addicts do not regulate their urge to visit social networking sites, they often take long to accomplish allocated tasks due to increased mistakes, leading to more extended hours on given assignments. The result of these behaviors is the development of deficits in cognitive tasks.
Technological advances have changed the way young children entertain themselves. The children are no longer engage in artwork due to the advent of the Ipads. These gadgets are loaded with applications which entertain and keep children busy. The use of such technology, however, has been associated with negative outcomes among young children. Citing earlier research Rosin (n.d) argues that there are adverse effects of exposing young children to media as it has been associated with reduced mental development. Kids are hypnotized with digital gadgets, and this denies the children the chance to interact with caregivers which is essential for cognitive developments. Also, the children do not get the opportunity to nurture social relationships with parents and fellow children. These children are bound to develop inadequacies in areas such as communication skills, problem-solving skills as well interactive skills. The awareness of these problems explains the typical behavior of parents regulating the number of hours kids spend on the digital gadgets.
Internet addiction has ruined social relationships between close family members and friends. Through Facebook and other texting digital platforms people speak more to gadgets than fellow human beings and this new phenomenon has eroded face-to-face communications. According to Drago (13-16), the presence of communication devices in social settings have been found to interfere with human relationships. Inadequate face-to-face exchanges have been associated with poor social relationships and disjointed families. Partly, this is due to the privatization of patterns of communications in the households where family members pay more attention to digital objects than face-to-face exchanges. The findings of Drago demonstrate that the social conversations in the absence of devices yielded more empathy and satisfaction among the involved persons.
Adverse health implications are some of the issues that have been raised regarding the impact of heavy usage of the internet and social networking sites. In her contribution to Bloomberg, Suddath (n.d) finds the medical conditions such as esophageal tear has been linked with too much exposure to internet activities. Similarly, studies have shown that heavy users of cell phones and computers have a higher chance of developing depression. The mentioned conditioned is caused by the anxiety users of social sites undergo due to the pressure associated with the use of such sites. For instance, some Facebook users have been found to have experienced stress and anxiety while using the social network. Overly, the interactions on the social networks may have a lot of health, as well as economic costs on the involved persons as victims use substantial resources for treatment and rehabilitations.
Social networking as a product of the digital world exposes young people to risks of cyber bullying and sex exploitation. Internet users, especially, teens have not instituted enough safeguards on social sites so as to ensure protection if their private information from unauthorized use .The bullying is mostly done through the internet and mobile phones(Donegan 33-37).According to Donegan, bullying distresses young people who often develop suicidal thoughts or extreme feelings of violent revenge. Others have committed suicide as witnessed in the Amanda Todd of British Columbia in the year 2012.In the same breadth, predators use the internet to solicit for sex and advertise explicit material to children. The social media platforms have also been used to carry child trafficking. The trafficked children are used as sex pets and participate in the production of pornographic materials and other commercial purposes (Mitchell and Jones 2-6).The digital technologies, however, have several benefits to the users.
Social networks can be helpful in lubricating social relationships of people as the platforms enable users to establish friendships with others in the context of social interactions, leading to better health of the involved individuals. During these interactions, people share information, ideas and latest technologies which are helpful in life. Also, internet users share instant information through texts and calls, which is very effective in terms of cost for people living apart. The barrier of distance and time is overcome through online connections between family and friends. Moreover, the digital technologies have provided easy access to educational materials, thus, promoting the culture of learning among populations (Baruah 1-10)
The advent of digital technologies has had negative consequences on lives of people. Many individuals have been addicted to social networks and digital platforms to the extent that such behavior is causing health problems such as depression and associated illnesses. Also, the digital platforms have provided online predators to sexually exploit and bully Internet users, especially young people. Furthermore, addictions to social media networks and related technologies have strained social relationships due to the decreased face-to-face communication. However, the internet era has brought some benefits, including establishing social relationships, easy access to education materials through the web, and convenient communication between family and friends, among other benefits. In spite of the numerous problems the digital technology has caused, it will continue to be part and parcel of the human race in the foreseeable future. It is incumbent upon all members of the society to come up with ways of overcoming its shortcomings.
Baruah, Trisha D. "Effectiveness of Social Media as a tool of communication and its potential for technology-enabled connections: A micro - level study." International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications 2.5 (2012): 1-10.
Donegan, Richard. "Bullying and Cyberbullying." The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 3.1 (2012): 33-42.
Drago, Emily. "The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication." The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 6.1 (2015): 13-16. Web. 24 June 2016.
Mitchell, Kimberly J., and Lisa M. Jones. "Internet-facilitated Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children." University of New Hampshire (2013): 1-7.
Rosin, Hanna. "The Touch-Screen Generation." The Atlantic Apr. 2013: n. pag. Print.
Suddath, Claire. "Digital Detox, a Tech-Free Retreat for Internet Addicts." Bloomberg 1 Nov. 2013: n. pag. Print.
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