Their stares are blank, their eyes are glazed over, and their faces are lit up by an ominous glow. It is almost as if they are sleeping, but their rapidly tapping thumbs suggest otherwise. The classroom is silent except for the nearly inaudible taps of fingers on phones. With any spare time left of class, students no longer fill classrooms with giggles and chatter, but rather they almost automatically reach for their smart phones and computers.
Whether it is to check social media, take a BuzzFeed quiz, or message their grandmother on Facebook, technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives. Its use seems to evolve and become increasingly important to our existence every day. Whether this evolution has a negative or positive effect on society is heavily debated.
Recent Andover High School graduate Elizabeth Troiano has an iPhone 6, a Mac computer, 697 Instagram followers, 270 Twitter followers, and 950 Facebook friends. Between classes she could be seen with her phone in hand, computer tucked underneath her arm and eye contact locked solely with her screens. However, this is not an anomaly at Andover High School, where if you don’t have a smartphone you are in the minority and if you have never heard of the latest app, you receive wide-eyed, gaped looks.
This past New Year’s Eve, feeling that technology and social media provoked unproductivity and laziness, Troiano made a resolution to use her phone less and check certain apps only once a day.
“When I do homework I constantly have my cell phone out,” she said. “I check Instagram and other apps constantly and have realized that it impacts my study habits immensely.” However, her resolution lasted a mere month. She explained, “At first I felt more connected with myself and the more important things in my life, like friends and family, but then I felt out of the loop.”
In 2016, when it seems everyone is talking about Kanye West’s latest tweet or the trending Youtube videos, giving up technology feels more like giving up food or oxygen. According to the Atlantic, 21 percent of smartphone users would give up shoes for a week rather than their phones and 28 percent of iPhone users would give up seeing their significant other for a week rather than their phone.
Troiano is not the only one who suffers a difficulty in relinquishing her technological devices. Middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students are struck with this addiction, but other generations have been affected as well.
It is prom 2016 and Katie Barry stands smiling in front of her fireplace wearing a light purple gown and a thick braid encasing her head. It is a picture-perfect moment, if only her mom could actually take the picture. Sharon Barry, squinting, is holding an iPhone up to her daughter in attempt to capture the moment; however, after 30 seconds of struggling, her daughter gives an exasperated moan and rolls her eyes. Katie drops her pose and moves to help her mom figure out the camera phone. Sharon Barry does not have any social media and constantly struggles to adjust to advancing technology. Barry requires her daughter’s help in order to familiarize herself with her tech, whether it be her iPhone, Kindle, or iPad.
She shared sentiments with Troiano: “I believe that social media, used excessively, serves as a distraction to many children.”
She continued, “While there are many benefits, it really distracts people from being present.”
Although Barry and Troiano share the belief that technology is negatively affecting society, many disagree. Andover High junior Tanner Abdoo believes that technology helps us stay connected. “I don’t always have time to see people in person,” he explained, “but I can always text my family and friends.” The reachability that technology brings to the table is invaluable. Whether Abdoo needs to text his parents to tell them he will be late for dinner, or email his teacher saying he won’t be at school the next day, many of these simple tasks would be impossible without technology.
Another junior, Jessie Barry, agrees that technology helps us connect in different ways. “Although we may not talk face to face as much,” Barry said, “we can constantly be in contact with the people we love.” Every day Barry talks with friends from different schools, friends who, she explains, would “be hard to keep in touch with if not for texting and social media.” Further, according to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of social media-using teens feel better connected to their friends’ lives through social media.
Also according to the Pew Research Center: 92 percent of teens report going online daily, and every year at Andover High incoming students seem to be more engaged in the newest technology, fads, and social media.
“They have more Instagram followers, are more tech-savvy, and to top it off seem to have skipped the awkward stage that we all used to suffer through,” said Troiano.
By Kate Hunt