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In a positive way, it allows them to stay in touch with one another (it is good for socializing) and it allows them to stay in touch with their parents much more easily while they are out.
On the negative side, it creates new dangers. Teens who text and drive put themselves and others at risk. Teens can open themselves to being lured by sexual predators on the internet or, less seriously, to having indecent pictures of themselves spread all over the internet.
Teens and young adults are more connected than ever before, and, although these technologies are necessarily teaching them to be great writers, at least they are communicating with each other. This is a new kind of literacy that doesn't follow the same rules us older folks grew up with, but it's better than sitting in front of tv all day.
One of the problems is the temptation to believe too much of what we see online, since the sources don't have to be reliable. The solution to that is the same thing it has always been: good education that teaches us to be analytical thinkers.
The rate of plagiarism has escalated dramatically in my recent classes, since students have a wider range of Internet resources from which to choose. I consider the iPhone and other recent portable devices much more addictive than previous technological advancements in the past, and many students absolutely cannot refrain from using them in class.
Technology has a negative effect on youth because they expect instant gratification. Everything is completely self-centered and narcissistic. Did you get a hair cut? Post it on Facebook! You had cereal and bananas for breakfast? Send out a tweet! There are big events that people can share with real friends, but a lot of it is mindless, pointless chatter that actually isolates us instead of bringing us closer together.
I have to agree that technology has affected the youth of today in both positive and negative ways. First, technology has put the world at the fingertips of everyone. That being said, not many students today know how to use an encyclopedia. Students can literally put the answers to a question into a search and come up with an answer (with no more thought process than picking which site to trust).
Technology has made a wealth of resources accessible to students. As a history teacher, it is now possible to have students use primary sources in their research, which was very difficult before. It also enables them to socialize in ways previously unthinkable, and despite the effect that might have on productivity, I think it is a net positive. As for negatives, I agree that the risk exists for online predators. It exposes young people to dangers that they would not otherwise encounter.
The "solutions" part of your question has been the least addressed aspect, probably because there is going to be disagreement as to whether or not anything connected with the rise of technology has created a problem that requires a "solution".
Uses of technology are widely varied, differing with the age of the user, the purpose of the use, the type of equipment being used, and so forth. If there are difficulties connected with any of these uses, the remedies will need to be as varied as the situations being addressed. Solutions will probably all depend upon the development of good judgment and mutual respect for developers of technology, users of the processes and equipment, and consideration of others.
There are unquestionably positives and negatives to the increase in technology in the life of today's young adults and teens. Here a just a few:
access to ideas and information that they might not have access to in their daily life, this includes access to other religions and cultures
ease of communication with other, friends, family, etc
unique and new opportunities for learning that simply don't exist without the technology
the growing need for instant gratification in all areas of life
a gullibility for technological media- as said above "if it is on the internet it must be true"
the ability to express views and ideas without having to face the consequenes, this is a problem for adults too, but I have seen an enormous amount of what equals cyberbullying with my middle school students, they say things about themselves and others that they would never say in person for fear of what might happen
internet predators and over exposure to sexualization
Now there are many more examples in the positives and negatives, these are just off the top of my head.
As for solutions to the negatives, the answer is in good parenting and education. Right from the get go, from the time young children are using computers and Ipads and other technology they need to be taught parameters.
NEVER text in the car. Have a healthy dose of skepticism about everything you read on the net until you can find ways to back it up. If you wouldn't say it in person, don't put in print. Everything you put up on the internet can never be taken back. Don't trust people on the net, if you don't know them in real life, you really don't know them. And technology is a wonderful and useful luxury, but still a luxury, learn to live without it.
Children need to have these basics (and others) taught to them early and reinforced throughout their childhood and teens. Like any behaviors it is up to adults to teach children, not expect them to know things. If these issues are never addressed then the problems continue and grow. This is just one more responsibility that parents and teachers have in today's world.
Technology has offered a source of diversion and entertainment and a source for semi-constant semi-socializing for youth. This would seem emotionally benificial for people with short attention spans though not necessarily intellectually beneficial. Learning to sustain focus is a real problem for many young people today, or so it seems, and if we agree that this is the case we might argue that technology (cell phones, tablet, laptops) serve to continue the erosion of attention spans.
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