Editorial: How connected are you?

Does anybody remember the good ol' days, where dial-up was the norm, social networking was that red-headed stepchild nobody liked, and status updates were simply non-existent? I know I do, and to be honest, I miss them. A comment in one of my articles today made me think; do you know anybody who enjoys a good bit of peace and quiet any more?

Many companies these days are finding new ways of letting others know what you're doing; Twitter being a relatively recent (albeit successful) one, and a lot of mobile devices produced support the services. From Facebook to MySpace, nearly everybody today is, as some people put it, 'connected'. Apple's iPhone is a good example; it supports MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, as well as having cellular capability, giving you access to these services almost anywhere. But how well off are we with these services? Sure, they're handy for keeping in touch with friends who are far away, but is constant access to them such a good thing?

Children today are growing up with these services, with the average for kids to get a cellphone as 7, and they're taking them for granted. This isn't the only issue...most kids I know have some sort of portable device, whether it's a Nintendo DS or a PSP, or something similar. Is this the way we want to raise our children? I remember going to friends' houses, and we'd go outside and build a hut, or something cliché like that, but I don't see that happening any more. When my little brother has a friend around, do you know what they do? They play Pokemon against each other on their DS. Not for an hour, not for two hours -- for the whole day. It's becoming an epidemic. Children are being raised by technology and not by their parents, and this will cause huge problems for the next generation of adults.

When I say problems, I'm talking about a wide range of things here. Firstly, the future workforce. If kids are becoming more lazy, and less willing to work to get what they want, who will be there to take the jobs? People will want to take the easiest way out to earn money, and not go to University. Or, they'll go to University and not succeed, both outcomes are as bad as each other. Secondly, social development. Humans will become more comfortable in front of a glowing screen playing a game or talking with those they know via a keyboard, as opposed to actually going out with friends and having a good time. This, in my opinion, is the lowest of social development, and I hope it never truly becomes this way. I know many that will agree with me, but unfortunately, it would take a lot of work to prevent the problem.

I have a friend that complains if he has to go one day without internet access. It's that kind of thing that truly worries me. Some people in the world don't have ready access to water and health care, whereas others only care if they can tell others what they're doing at some random point in time. Perhaps these social networking services are going to make the human race develop into a more selfish state of mind. Perhaps not. Perhaps my ranting is all meaningless and I have no idea what I'm talking about. Who knows, but it's a scary thing to think about.

So how bad do you think it will get? I think it can only go downhill. With technology (generally) getting cheaper due to manufacturing advances and corporate competitiveness, more people get access to more devices. Including, unfortunately, young children. All these technologies may seem like a darned handy thing to have, but when you think about, how well off are we really? Do we need them?

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