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Impacts of the “Technological Age” on Modern Students


Professor Bacigalupe has worked on research involving the impact of social technology on families.



In conversations, technology is often touted as either the solution to the most difficult issues or the source of problematic issues. Newspapers, television, and other forms of mass media usually perpetuate an idealizing perspective on technology. Other times, these same forms of mass media scare the people into thinking that interpersonal relationships and the world, as we know them, are disintegrating as we let technology “take over.”

Since before our vastly technological age, polarized views of emerging technology have existed.  Simply, it is very difficult to predict or to make recommendations that withstand time. Read, therefore, anything related to emerging technology with a critical eye.

Conversations about social media and digital technologies often fit in two neat boxes: critics and proponents.

You can hear the critics say, “It’s a waste of time”, “no one reads anymore,” “the intimacy of real conversation is gone,” “we are losing touch with reality,” etc. Even in societies and schools like ours, some people view technology as a sort of apocalypse. There are professors who believe that the use of gadgets, like phones and computers (especially in the classroom) are a distraction.

Others report how marvelous technology is; commenting on how it will revolutionize everything from healthcare to education.

However, these differing viewpoints on the effects of technology probably have a lot to do with how they’re utilized. Take Skype and Twitter for instance:  I use these to connect with colleagues and relatives abroad and have rich conversations about my clinical, research, and political interests respectively. These same forms of technology may be used tease a friend or post pictures of our meals or cats.

In both circumstances, the meaning of this social technology is quite different.

Why, for instance, are social media applications like Facebook and Twitter so popular? Why are our smartphones an extension of our hands and minds? What drives professors to use online platforms or powerpoints to teach masterfully or otherwise? Why is it that some parents or relatives view what you do with technology as a mystery?

Imagine new technologies as an ocean. Where are you located in relationship to it? What is your perspective? Are you flying over and impressed by its immensity? Crashing? Are you on a boat, swimming, diving? Are you a dolphin, living in the water but needing to come to the surface to breath? Are you a fish and have never known of something called air? In each case, your experience of the ocean is idiosyncratic.

We are not all in the same boat. Some don’t even know that boats exist. For some, this body of water is a tool to get to places. For others is a scary experience.

For most university students, social media is really like the air we breathe. For me, well, there were no computers when I completed my first degree. Tape recording a song, then playing it with friends was the closest thing to streaming or sharing songs online.

 On the flip side, I didn’t have to worry about all my information being compromised online. In exchanging an opinion about a song or a text, I did not have to worry about becoming a permanent record of who I was. But similarly, I did not have the opportunity to connect rapidly with my family abroad after I left home to study. What these emerging technologies offer us today in the way of connecting with others, with information, and the ability to organize rapidly, are still evolving but there for all to shape in ways that only a few years ago were unthinkable.