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The Delight and Dilemma of the Digital Age

How Technology Impacts Our Social Behaviour

The good, the bad and the digital. As technology has evolved, so has the way we interact with one another. Sometimes for better; sometimes for worse. This post explores the social norms that exist today only because of technology.

“Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives – from our relationships, to the way we shop, from our political systems to the minds of our children.”— maryaiken.com

Let’s Get Digital

Ah, how the times have changed. Nearly 40 years ago getting the mail meant going to the post box. Window shopping involved glass windows of brick-and-mortar stores. Olivia Newton-John’s hit song, physical, was all over the airwaves. Little did we know that world-wide movement from analogue to digital had just begun.

Fast forward—er—skip to today. There’s a myriad of things we can accomplish with just a few taps from the palm of our hands. Even ‘quality time’ with friends.

Closer Together Or Further Apart?

] From chat rooms (say what now? Read this You’re welcome) to WhatsApp—or, for the more enlightened, Telegram )—The Internet has enabled instant communication in real-time with anyone, anywhere.

Our relationships are no longer constrained by distance or even time. The bright side is that it has enhanced business efficiency and capabilities. We’re truly living in a global village. International business relations are easier than ever before. Remote working means that we can acquire talent from anywhere in the world.

It has its downsides too. With the ability to reach anyone at any time comes the expectation that you are also available 24/7. Many people bend over backwards to live up to this unrealistic expectation. Our phones intrude on our lives. Replying to a text is prioritised over responding to the person standing in front of you.

We rely so heavily on text that some people have anxiety over speaking on the phone. Then, of course, there’s an emoji for everything don’t know how to say. Technology has widened our communication channels but deteriorated our communication skills.

What about the kids?

The Internet and our lives are inextricably linked (pun intended). It’s no surprise then that childhood development has been affected as well.

Babies and screen time

A critical part of infantile development is eye contact with their caregivers. “The early nonverbal forms of communication—eye contact and joint attention—are vitally important for laying a solid foundation for language to develop.” Says Brynn D. Rhodes, M.S., CCC-SLP

You’re not going to plonk your newborn in front of a screen (they say that 2 years old is the earliest acceptable age for screen time). But, consider how little of your face and that critical eye contact your child is getting because of the time that you spend on your phone.

Selfie Nation

Between 9 and approximately 13 years old, there is another essential developmental milestone called “identity creation.” This is where kids figure out who they are and shape their sense of self.

“Adolescent identity is developed, in part, based on relationships and feedback received from others.” —Joanna Lee Williams, PhD

The selfie craze is not as harmless phenomena. Young people create a virtual self with filters and editing, that gain peer approval (likes and comments) that skews their reality entirely. They think their online persona equates to their self-worth. They hide, or neglect to even develop, their real self while their hyper-reality self takes centre stage.

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