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Western societies no longer imagine themselves without technologies. Smartphones, computers, and the Internet have become essential elements of people’s daily lives. Millions of children and adults begin their days with mobile phones and emails and go to sleep keeping their MP3 players and iPads in their hands. One of the biggest questions facing today’s professionals is whether or not the latest technologies benefit the American society. On the one hand, the contribution made by technologies to the mental and cultural development of the American society cannot be overestimated: technologies expand human mental and emotional capabilities and create favorable conditions for self-development and intellectual growth. On the other hand, not everyone can successfully cope with the growing diversity of technology applications. Therefore, technological advances have certainly improved the quality of modern American life, but the society still needs to exercise reason, caution, and even modesty while using the latest technology solutions.
The benefits of using the latest technologies are numerous: basically, modern technologies have allowed children and adults to become multitask. Wallis provides a comprehensive description of a usual multitask family, the family of Stephen and Virginia Cox [non-restrictive appositive], whose children represent the super-technological generation, Generation M (61). The children and adults in this family use technologies to fulfill several different functions simultaneously. They do homework while also listening to music (Wallis 61). They speak to their family members, with one iPod earpiece in and one out (Wallis 62). In this sense, children and adults who have successfully adopted the latest technologies expand their brain capabilities and make it work better. According to Wallis, the human brain cannot handle multitasking, and technologies simply allow their users switching their attention from one task to another without major difficulty (66). The Brodmann’s area of the human brain located right behind the forehead helps individuals to focus on their long-term goals and return to them, while also accomplishing a number of other, short-term, tasks (Wallis 66). This way, the latest technologies can be described as the “next step in brain evolution”, which turns individuals into digital natives, those who have “never known a world without instant communication” (Woods 71). These individuals take communication technologies for granted and use them easily. These users consider technologies to be their logical mental and emotional extension, and technologies respond in a similar way, providing these individuals with outstanding mental and emotion processing capacities.
Modern technologies have improved the quality of modern American life, by expanding the existing learning and training opportunities. Even computer games often become a perfect way to improve individuals’ analytical and problem-solving skills. The case of Stephen Gillett, a man who was looking for a senior management position at Yahoo! [restrictive appositive], is very demonstrative: being one of the most successful masters in World of Warcraft, Gillett gained a serious competitive advantage over potential rivals and eventually won the race for the desired job (Brown & Thomas 1). Really, digital technologies are successfully integrated with the fundamental education and learning processes. Role-playing games are no exception to this rule. “Unlike education acquired through textbooks, lectures, and classroom instruction, what takes place in massively multiplayer online games is what we call accidental learning” (Brown & Thomas 1). What Brown and Thomas mean is that learning in role-playing games occurs in the environments that are close to real. They allow players to train their manual skills (Brown & Thomas 1). As a result, individuals who use advanced game-playing technologies are believed to become more sensitive to everything happening around them and more flexible in their decisions and approaches to real-world problems (Brown & Thomas 1). This is, probably, why Richard Woods, a Sunday Times reporter [non-restrictive appositive], says that technologies have started a new course in the evolution of human intelligence (72). Computer games create an environment, where players can overcome their prejudices and try their most challenging skills and opportunities. Technologies create another world, the world of complex experiences, which also help users to improve their attention capabilities and critical thinking skills. Individuals who spend most of their time online also display improved information processing skills and results.
Not surprisingly, advanced technologies greatly contribute to the development of effective communication ties and even raise individuals’ IQ. “The mental habit of dividing one’s attention into many small slices has significant implications for the way young people learn, reason, socialize, do creative work and understand the world” (Wallis 64). As mentioned earlier, members of the technological generation are extraordinarily good in information finding, processing, and manipulating (Wallis 67). By bringing media to the classroom, education professionals expand the range of impressions and learning opportunities that are available to students. Interactive learning becomes a self-motivating force in the learning process, challenging students’ beliefs about learning and giving them a chance to manage and regulate the learning process. Under the influence of advanced technologies, the patterns of human thinking change: thinking is no limited to someone’s head but is intricately bound to the technological tools used (Woods 74). Yet, despite all these benefits, modern societies should exercise more caution and reason in their relationships with technologies.
The society needs to exercise reason, caution, and even modesty while dealing with the latest technologies. Public fears that advanced technologies are turning humans into cyborgs are partially justified. Advanced technologies often leave no time for personal face-to-face interactions: Christina Wallis notes that children, who are preoccupied with online communication or other kinds of digital technologies, may not even notice that their parents have just come home from work (62). Absorbed by numerous technological processes, society members may not even notice how their brain becomes overloaded with tasks. This is also the case of social networking which, for many users, has become extremely time-consuming (Lee 91). Human ability to process multiple tasks does have its limits, and even young adults may face considerable difficulties and losses, trying to accomplish more than one thing at once (Wallis 66). For the most part, individuals simply cannot cope with the growing number of various digital technologies and choose those, which they really need. Most likely, with time, society members will settle down with one or two technologies and social networking sites that meet their daily needs (Lee 92). Meanwhile, technology addictions may become one of the greatest problems facing Generation M. The future of the American society is not possible without technologies, but it is within everyone’s capability to approach these technologies with reason.
Technologies fill the lives of millions, but the main question is whether at all technologies can benefit the American society. It would be fair to say that technological advances have certainly improved the quality of modern American life, but the society still needs to exercise reason, caution, and even modesty while using the latest technology solutions. Technologies favor multitasking. Technologies create vast training and learning opportunities. Humans use technologies to advance their knowledge and manual skills. Their IQ increases, and their approaches to real-life problems become more flexible and effective. Unfortunately, Generation M is facing the risks of technology addictions, and it is within everyone’s capabilities to use technologies reasonably and wisely.
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