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Too Much Technology Can Be Harmful

By Alex Sanders
On February 20, 2008

With online bill-paying, banking, grocery shopping, even car shopping made easy by the Internet, there are no longer many reasons for people to leave their houses. While it is wonderful that technology is so innovative that it can make even the most dreaded, daunting tasks easy, it is sad in a way to realize that the old-fashioned ways to do virtually everything are disappearing. This could potentially have a serious impact on people, especially teens and young adults, if it hasn't already.

Life seems so much better without hassle, but it isn't necessarily ­­­­- it could be worse. For example, many people use credit cards on a daily basis simply because it's easy. Whether they don't have time to go to an ATM or the line is moving quickly and money will take time to count, people seem to rely on credit cards. However, they can also end up in severe debt because of that dependence. Technology is akin to credit cards in the way that it certainly makes life easier but it isn't good on the wallet, the mind or the body.

Our parent's generation would have to walk to the library, actively search for books for a school project then walk home. These days, students spend an exorbitant amount of time glued to a computer screen with numerous distractions like Facebook and MySpace. This lethargy prevents people from getting exercise for their bodies or brains. Reading a book requires thinking and looking up information as opposed to mindlessly clicking through white screens. Even Disney World is adding virtual aspects to their park. There will soon be more technology than actual characters walking around the park. People prefer to go see high-tech laser shows rather than Mickey Mouse, the original main attraction.

Another problem with using a computer to do everyday tasks is monetary loss. It costs much more to have groceries or clothes shipped to your house. Far more money than it would cost someone to drive five or 10 minutes away to their nearest grocery store and do the shopping his or herself.

In addition, all of the information that people enter on the Internet is floating around in cyberspace. People don't consider who may be looking at their credit card number or their address. Online shoppers are far too trusting. Unless someone specifically validates the site that he is on, it could be a disaster, and even if the site is authenticated, information could still fall into the wrong hands.

Dependence on computers and technology in general is harmful. It has been proven that if older people keep their mind active by doing puzzles and reading consistently, they could potentially deter less memory loss. However, nobody has to think anymore with technology doing all the thinking for them. Albeit it is great to have to remember less and simply glance at a Palm Pilot for a digital calendar or list, it is hurting our minds. Many people probably only know around 10 phone numbers, including their own. They have most of their phone numbers in a cell phone directory, Blackberry or Palm Pilot. Some people may have experienced the phenomenon of forgetting a number because it is programmed into speed dial.

Technology has become so advanced that people no longer need to get out of the house and mingle to find a date or even a spouse. Thanks to online matchmaking Web sites like eHarmony.com and match.com, people can find the perfect mate by spilling out their passions, hobbies, political views and once again, their credit card numbers - because describing oneself to someone else online isn't free. Hence, people should go out and meet others in real life, not virtual reality or via an instant message set up by perfectmatch.com. That way, they can save money and save face.

Technology is not only unhealthy because it encourages kids to spend more time sitting starry-eyed in front of a television or computer and less time running around getting exercise. Why play baseball outside when you could play it from the comfort of your couch on the Nintendo Wii?

Continuous use of technology can cause dependence. Many college students joke that they are addicted to Facebook. But is it really a joke? Many seem to check Facebook every ten minutes. That sounds like an actual addiction, though not a particularly dangerous one. Technology is so advanced that some people can work from the comfort of their cozy bed rather than trek out to work in the early morning.

Soon, technology will be so advanced that people won't need to get up to eat or shower. It is already possible to place a food order online so consumers don't have to be bothered with looking up a phone number, finding a menu and dealing with the restaurant, although technology has not yet figured out a way to eliminate greeting and tipping the delivery person.

Technology is certainly a great invention that has caused rapid progress in society, but sometimes you have to wonder how much is too much. Too much of anything can't be good. That includes the innovative, ubiquitous technology of the 21st century.

Weekly Columnist Alex Sanders is a 4th-semester journalism and psychology double major. Her columns appear on Wednesdays. She can be contacted at Alexandra.Sanders@UConn.edu.


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