Charlotte-Mecklenburg students must complete a graduation project where the student investigates a topic and presents their findings and a project to a panel. Independence High School senior and Mint Hill resident Erin Evans researched the negative effects of technology. Her report is below and has been edited for brevity. The full version is on our website www.minthilltimes.com.

Erin is the daughter of Evan and Whitney Evans of Mint Hill. 

by Erin Evans

(edited for brevity)

A child sits quietly, hardly blinking, occasionally jerking, constantly staring, oblivious to his surroundings. Some might wonder if he is schizophrenic, autistic, or suffering from another mental illness.

This child is simply addicted to the technology that holds his undivided attention and isolates him from the real world.

Technology, which has so greatly impacted life today in positive ways, has now begun to raise concerns about its negative influences, especially upon the young. 

Technology has made our lives easier and extended our communication to global extents, but our dependency on technology is almost frightening.

As wonderful as technology seems to be, it has undesirable effects upon the physical, mental, emotional and social well being of individuals.

The overuse of technology can cause fatigue, troubles with vision, hearing problems, back aches, neck strain and susceptibility to obesity.

Children need to physically handle objects, engage all senses, and interact with the three-dimensional world. First-hand interaction maximizes knowledge and brain development.

The recent increase in technology use has caused our skills in critical thinking and analysis to decline.

According to Greenfiled, a professor of psychology at UCLA, “Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.”

Recent advances in technology have also lead to a decline in “normal” social behaviors.

“Social interaction between children and their peers is done more with technology than it is person to person.”

Greenfield said that although social networking websites make individuals feel accepted, she was concerned that the activity distanced people, “from the stress of face-to-face, real-life conversation.”

With technology, it is possible to have numerous “friends” without leaving home.

The use of technology, particularly within the world of gaming and virtual reality, can bring about addiction, allowing technology to gain control of lives.

200 students at the University of Maryland participated in an experiment where they were “’unplugged” for a 24 hour period, agreeing to refrain from using cell phones, the Internet, social networking sites, and even television and radio while they participated in the experiment.

Subjects were allowed to read books and make phone calls from landlines. Results of the study showed that the subjects experienced physical symptoms much like those experienced by someone who abruptly quits smoking.

The experiment has been replicated throughout the world, and, universally, the words used to describe the reaction to a technology-free existence were undeniably similar.

Participants felt lonely, irritable, panicked, anxious, restless, depressed, dependent, crazy, jittery and paranoid.

It is clearly evident that technology is taking a negative toll on our generation.

It’s time to impose limits upon our children and ourselves.

Put down the technology and read a book.

Step away from the video games and take a walk.

Who knows? You might meet a real person with whom you can have a real conversation.