You and the World Project - Blog #2 - Teens and Technology

Hi! My name is Katarina Backo and I am a ninth grader at Science Leadership Academy. I am doing a project for my English class about an issue that concerns
me, and I have to write three blogs about it. Here is the
link to my first blog and this is my second blog in this series. My issue involves play time, and how technology impacts
children’s activity and therefore their lives. I am an artistic, athletic person connected with my family and happy about it. I wish that everybody could have the happiness I have, but I think that wrong use of technology prevents that. Hope you’ll enjoy reading my ideas.

In my previous blog my focus was on balance (“I love technology as well, but I think that everything should be balanced.”-Blog #1). My concern was that nowaday teens will choose to play with technology rather than going outside to play. In the meantime I continued with all my activities and still didn’t notice new teens making use of abundant free teen programs that exist in Philadelphia. Besides working on this project I have had the opportunity and luck to do a research on how technology affects people for my technology class. For my Science Fair Project I have decided to dig deeper into how teens tell time and that helped me understand how I could resolve my issue. Finally my original research opened new questions.

The movie "Digital Nation" I watched in technology class, in my eyes was about the balance I spoke about which is pushed to technology side, meaning that we are forgetting the real world we live in. It also brought a good argument about multitasking and why is it actually bad. People are so crazy about the virtual world that they are losing the sense to tell the difference between virtual and real. Even if you think that you are good at multitasking it is wrong because multitasking makes you lose your focus.

I have also studied the term "digital native" (CNN article defines this term more closely) - a person born when digital technology was around, so they can learn about technology at the age they learn how to speak. That is exactly what today's teens are, and that is where my issue starts, growing up as technology grows. This is not necessarily bad, technology is meant to enhance our lives, but yet again I see the need for balance.

Working on my Science Fair Project I have unexpectedly run into one possible, maybe obvious solution for my issue. For Science Fair Project I wanted to check the saying “time flies when you are having fun”. My experiment was to engage my classmates into activities and see how well they can tell time spent on their activities. I gave a Rubic’s Cube to my friend who is using technology all the time. He was focused on the cube for about 7 minutes and then I stopped him. He wanted to continue, because he was not even close to solving it. When I asked him if he liked solving it, he said he loved it, but he thought that he spent a whole hour trying. His focus was amazing, even though technology is said to ruin the ability to focus and strengthen the wish to multitask. I expected to hear that the time flew for him, but I got the total opposite. As usual, when you get too many results that you didn’t expect, new ideas are born. It might have been obvious from my current point of view, but I didn’t think before that in order to resolve my issue I just have to find the way to get my fellow teens interested in activities that do not include technology.

Having everything sorted out, I wanted to check what activities other teens are involved in. For my original research, I recently made a survey which you can access here. It asked people about technology they use and how much they use it. I also asked about extracurricular activities and sports.

20 people took my survey and 19 of them were teenagers. Everyone is using technology in some way:

Do you have an electronic device?

Every person that filled up my survey said that both, they and their families, have electronic devices. The two most common ones were cell phones and laptops. That is what I expected. However, I found out something that I did not expect and that made me revisit my original hypotheses. I expected to have more people say that they do not play sports and don’t engage in extracurricular activities. That was not the case. 95% of people said that they engage in activities not related to school and technology. Out of those 95%, 50% said that they play sports, while others said that they both play sports and engage in other activities.

Do you play any sports?

Then if people do all these activities, maybe our ways were not ruined with technology, just overwhelmed. Is my sample representative? If yes, is Philadelphia that big that I did not notice that most people play sports and do extracurricular activities? Or did I accidentally get all the people that play sports to take my survey, or maybe the activities I am involved in are not well advertised? I still have to search deeper to find the answer I am looking for.

I can conclude that technology is not something stopping us from being as active as other generations before us. It is only the way we use it to help our way of living. In terms of technology, right now we are stuck between the past and the future.

To read my Annotated Bibliography, please click here.   

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