It’s the generation of smart phones and stupid people. Smartphones, laptops, MP3s – we all have these gadgets. And the technology phenomenon continues to grow rapidly. We’re growing in the technological age where everything is focused around gadgets. Most kids would have considered it a prison to be sent to their room, whereas nowadays that’s not the case, being that their favorite gadgets (i.e. iPhones, Macs, iPads) are there. Thus they are not bored, because they end up ‘killing time’ through the use of these. It is having a massive affect on today’s society, causing negative influences on relationships, as well as everyday life.

Internet users “may sometimes risk the loss of a significant relationship, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet. They may lie to others because of their over involvement with the Internet, and they also use Internet as a means to escape from problems or to settle one’s unpleasant emotion such as helplessness, anxiety, guilt, or shame” (4) Through trying to create friendships and relationships online, we seem to have forgotten how to do the same in real life.

According to the BBC, “As much as 75% of young people say they can’t live without the Internet.” (5) So how did generations before us survive? Technology and Internet has made it so addictive that you can’t help but feel lost without your mobile phone. 86% of people say they love how new technology helps them communicate with people. It is amazing in its own way, how we can interact and find people we never see and have lost contact with, but we are subconsciously shutting out those who we do see/meet in real life. During parties or days out, we are most likely updating our status’s to let people know what we’re up to, instead of actually spending time with the people we are out with. It’s as if we are living to impress and depress others with our lifestyle instead of living it!

Because of the rapid development in technology, now our phones can do more than just call. We can browse the Internet, send emails, and take pictures/videos. Who knows what else they will be able to do in the following years to come, as every year something new surprises us. Imagine the size computers were a few years ago, and how now you can do so much with such a thin piece of machinery, which is easily portable. No doubt it can be useful, especially with handy apps (i.e. nearest bus- which helps us not miss our next buses) but is it doing more damage than good is the question.

The limitless communication era has changed the way we live life, work, and also play. It has given the world of communication a whole new meaning. Social networking sites have caused a rise in bullying, known as cyber bullying. People create online communities, which bring them closer together, but at the expense of others. Sites such as Facebook do not allow individuals to understand if someone is our friend or our enemy. These websites reinforce the age old saying “keep your friends close and enemies closer”, as we friend, like and comment photos of both friends and enemies. It allows room for abuse and aggression, which many have fallen victim to. Nonetheless, people continue to join. “Conceived as a way to connect students, it now boasts 1.23 billion monthly users, or about one-sixth of the world’s population.”(1) Almost as many as 43% of children have been bullying online. Imagine the numbers.

After much online research, I stumbled over real life cyber bullying stories which made an impact and reinforced the fact that social networking sites are not doing enough to stop and raise it as a growing issue. The story of Amanda Todd, a 16 year old girl was pressured into sending a nude photo of her breasts to a man she had met online, committed suicide after months of bullying. In September 2012 she released a YouTube video of her story.  (2). Her story went viral, with plenty of individuals supporting her and sending their condolences for what she went through after she died, but friends and family failed to be there for her during her time of need, when she was lonely and contemplating suicide.  (3) Later, an Amanda Todd Facebook memorial page was created, in the hope that this would influence and bring awareness for other people suffering in the same way. This is only one of many stories that have proved the intensity of cyber bullying through social networking sites.

Anti social behavior due to social networking sites are especially common in young children and teenagers. Even though its intentions are to help bring people closer together as a community, it’s doing more damage than good, by isolating us from any real life interaction. We need to learn to prioritize our time and limit the use of our social networks so that we do not become real life zombies, and live life!

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References:

(1) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-04/facebook-turns-10-the-social-network-in-numbers/5237128
(2) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSlUjFj3xQc
(3) http://www.puresight.com/Real-Life-Stories/amanda-todd.html
(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3217592/
(5) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8305731.stm