The Effect of Technology on Youth
By: Josh Milligan
Contemporary Social Issues
How Technology Affects Youth
Despite the many advantages of
technology, there is ever mounting
evidence supporting the negative and
harmful effects of technology use by
Problems of Well-being: Overview
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-Carpal tunnel syndrome
-Unknown long term affects
-Lack of empathy
-Short attention span
Related Theories & Definitions
A theory that human interaction and communication is facilitated
by words, gestures, and other symbols that have acquired
Is based on the idea that behaviors are deviant only when society
labels them as deviant.
States that social order is maintained by domination, with power in
the hands of those with the greatest political, economic, and social
resources. Emphasizing the role of coercion and power in
producing social order, this perspective is derived from the works of
Karl Marx, who saw society as fragmented into groups that
compete for social and economic resources.
The language of texting is changing how youth view the
world. With all the added benefits that technology offers, it
has taken over some of the more simple tasks, which studies
are now showing are key in a young persons development.
-Empathy in youth is being significantly lowered
due to a decrease in human to human contact,
-Language skills are suffering due to a new
-Sleep deprivation caused by cell phones and
tablets left on during the night are projected to
have both LT and ST effects,
-Status is being placed on certain technologies creating
segregation and bullying in schools, i.e. Apple Products.
Symbolic Interactionism Cont’d…
Symbolic interactionism has taken on a new meaning
when looking at the language of technology. “Smileys”
abbreviations such as “lol”, “omg”, “ttyl”, and a working
knowledge of technical language has become common
With this, spelling and grammar has declined significantly
for without built-in spell check, many youth do not know
proper grammar and use poor sentence structure.
Communication continues, however, the symbols in this
new language has indeed become the new language used
in everyday life.
Symbolic Interactionism Cont’d…
-The presence of a symbol now replaces
actual emotion, and is treated as such,
-With increased multi-tasking comes
-Constant use of technology is creating a
heavy reliance where individuals cannot
The millennial generation or “millennials”, are
growing up with a completely different set of
values and this can be applied to the labeling
Social norms have completely changed and
what was once considered rude, frowned
upon, or perhaps unheard of, is now socially
Labelling Theory Cont’d…
Examples of Changes
-Texting at the dinner table,
-Online shopping and banking,
-Bluetooth or headphones on while
talking to someone
-Can you think of anymore?
Google, Apple and Facebook are perhaps the three
largest technologically advanced companies in the
world. These three companies have almost
unlimited power over millions who rely on them
The power they have can be used to affect
politicies, government, and most significantly,
social order throughout the cyber and physical
Conflict Theory Cont’d…
Youth and Conflict Theory
Many teens and young people cannot go a day without technology. Studies have
shown that the average teen spends 11 hours a day on technology and sends over
3000 texts a month!
A study commissioned by Nokia found that in total,
users check their smartphones approximately every
6 minutes and average around 150 checks during a
waking day of 16 hours! This number includes
alarms, games, calls, texts, applications such as
calculators and clocks. The majority, however
comes from checking phones during periods of
How much is too much?
Technology has caused change over the entire world. The advancement has been
both positive and negative physically, psychologically and sociologically. However,
with studies not yet complete in regards to the long term effects on users, the short
term effects must be looked at and judged as to the results; especially on youth.
Certain studies have shown that those who begin using cell phones heavily as
teenagers have 4 to 5 times more instances of brain cancer as young adults!
With teens spending an average of 11 hours per day on technology this is a very
important area to examine.
Like anything in life, there is such a thing as too much of something. Until there is
more knowledge of the long term effects on extended cellphone and other
technology use, society must make an effort to limit their intake.
Encouraging human contact and group work in the younger school years will help in
the development of empathy and interpersonal relationships between youth.
Increasing physical activity such as gym class or yard time in schools will get youth
moving and help fight physical ailments caused by stagnant activities and sitting.
Create programs that use technology but in healthy manners such as how Nintendo
has done with the Wii fit.
Turning off technology at night to allow for a restful sleep without interruptions
would benefit all areas of development for all ages including youth.
Is technology just making good use of symbolic interactionism, or is symbolic
interactionism in youth through technology a hurtful thing?
Can you think of any social norms that have changed due to technology?
Do tech giants like Apple or Google and social media sites such as Facebook or
Twitter have too much power? Is their power a good thing?
Where do you fit when it comes to technology?
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n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
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Spencer, Ben. "Mobile Users Can't Leave Their Phone Alone for Six Minutes and Check
It up to 150 times a Day." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 11 Feb. 2013.
Web. 02 Apr. 2014
"Symbolic Interactionism." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.