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Surfeit Uiss o Digital Technology

Technology, and the mair by taiken digital technology, haes baith positive and negative eftercomes. Technology can hecht possibilities we wadnae itherwise hae. On the ae haund, technology in general can help us redd up problems: technology can allou us tae dae mony things fae the maist basic huntin gibbles tae space shuttles. On the ither haund, technology can cause hashery for the feck o humanity, whether it’s technology that’s uised for killin fowk (like nuclear wappens) or connachin wir environs (like fossil fuels), or connachin wir brain cells, like whit we’ll see efter in this airticle.

Digital technology is a fair guid ensaumple o the foresaid general description o technology: wi it, we can communicate wi fowk the ither side o the warld. And that’s braw; I wadnae can write this airticle itherwise. We can keep in touch wi freends and faimily on the ither side o the warld. But, at the same time, digital technology can distract us fae actual real life human traffeck that we war born for. For wir psychological growthe, as weel as ither aspects o wir halth, digital communication micht get yer wirds throu tae the ither body, but it’s sae sib tae real life communication as Jackie Stuart is tae the heir o the Jacobites.

An ensaumple o this eftercome o digital technology on wir weelfare is the mismeysome oncome ’ithin the past decade: fowk gaun aboot their day ’ithoot takkin tent o ither fowk aboot them, heid plottit in a mobile phone. This is juist a ensaumple o the fact that fowk maks nimious uiss o technology, inspecially digital technology, thir days. Scientists kens smartphones reduces concentration and IQ and yet some fowk gang on them insteid o talkin wi fowk in front o them.

The warst victims o this (amang wir ain species) is bairns and teenagers. They miss oot on social and cognitive skeels, as weel as emotional intelligence. A study by Dimitri Christakis (o the Seattle Children Research Institute at the University o Washington) haes shawn that television haes negative eftercomes on the psychological development o bairns, as weel as their learnin and their halth.1 A New Zealand study shaws that weans that watch less television git their equivalent o Highers mair easily than them that watches mair television.2

Social skeels, like learnin leids, is gey and important for wir species. And bairns can anely learn leids by interaction (wi responses) wi ither human beins. Sae, in general, weans that sits in front o screens, gif it’s smartphones or television or whitivver, learn tae speak later, and less, compared wi ither bairns.3 4 And this is true yet whan the television they’re watchin is specifically myntit for eddication!5 And, gif they dinnae hear ither humans speakin wi them, they’ll niver learn. Ither social skeels include kennin whan tae speak, whit tae say, in general hou tae interact in company.

Cognitive skeels is affectit an-aw whan we uise computers, acause it causes problems wi sleep and concentration.6

On tap o the eftercomes on social and cognitive skeels, we can gang intae the eftercomes o surfeit uiss on ither aspects o halth, like acoustic neuroma, doun-castin and stress. Acoustic neuroma is a kin o tumour that can gar a body lose their hearin and balance. Whiles the short term uiss o mobile phones disnae hae ony eftercome on the chance o fowk gittin acoustic neuroma, lang term uissage can hae a significant eftercome on fowk haein mair aften acoustic neuroma.7 And than there’s the connection wi doun-castin.8 And this dint tae yer heid is aw the mair a gray gate while fowk is in the fou coorse o growthe; their brains isnae fou developpit yet.

Psychological distress can come fae maladaptive uiss o the internet and mobile phones, inspecially whan fowk is iverly aiccessible on their phone or on the computer late at nicht.9 10 11

Nimious uiss o mobile phone and internet can be a addiction, wi serious comparisons wi drug addiction on the behavioral and chemical level.12 13 Comparisons can be makkit wi drugs an-aw, whan we consider the life expectancy eftercomes. Television haes been compared wi cigarette smokin in terms o life expectancy impact.14

And than there is the eftercast on the environs: this odious uiss consumes electricity, that maisttimes howks intae the supply o fossil fuels. At the best o times, wi renewable energy, we still need space for tae big up the wind ferms and siclike. And that’s space that could be itherwise be hained for naitur. And than anither that’s relevant tae the environs is that a fact masel I didnae realise till a few week syne: uiss o the warld wide wab haes a impact on the environs itsel, in partícular acause o the data centres uised tae rin sairches15.

Obviously, it isnae raisonable tae evendoun gie ower technology, and I wadnae want tae. Some technology, includin digital technology, helps us wi important things as weel as things we couldnae dae itherwise: like I said airlier, I couldnae be writin this gif it wadnae be for digital technology. And I’m gey thankfu that I can. Gif we couldnae communicate by the internet, communication wi ma faimily wad be ance a month or twa by post.

Communication is easier for twa ither raisons: writin is a fair feck swither whan ye’re daein it on a computer acause a single short muivement gies ye a hale chairacter. Sae that’s anither advantage o uisin digital technology. And, wi the internet, we can gain access tae information we wadnae itherwise hae. Resairch on the internet can uise wir brain in positive weys.

And, in some domains, partícularly important domains, we need mair technology. An evident ensaumple o that wad be the space industry that I mentioned on the first airticle I wrate here on Mak Forrit. Some things juist isnae possible ’ithoot new technology. Sae in this context it’s necessar. It eiks mair tae the experience.

In ither contexts, on the ither haund, we dinnae need aw that technology. For ensaumple, gif we’r brainstormin, aw we need is wir brain. And mebbe a bit paper tae note things doun. Gif aw we’re ettlin at daein is juist spielin, it isnae necessar. Atweel it’s better tae dae ’ithoot it in thae cases. For haein fun, for ensaumple, we can evite the uiss o technology. We dinnae need to be sittin afore a screen ilka time we want tae relax. We can be sittin ootby, in the wid. Or haein a daunder by a burn. Or readin a beuk, a activity that helps wi developin yer imagination, a capacity that’s important for bairns’ cognitive development16 as weel as developin their empathy.17 Readin isnae juist guid at de-stressin18 but is even ane o the best weys tae de-stress.19 Or pentin. Or craft. Or sport. Ony nummer o mair active tasks and activities.

And, while technology can help us wi the ecological transition, the main drive will be thinkin, ideas, that will bring us a mair sustainable direction.20

Technology is braw whan we need it. But, mair aften than no, thir days we uise it whan we dinnae need tae. Adults can mak guid uiss o digital technology in certain circumstances: internaitional communication, resairch, swith writin. But thae circumstances shouldnae come afore basic aspects o wir lifes. And bairns need their interaction, sae lat’s gie them whit’s auchtin them.

And lat’s consumers git whit’s auchtin them an-aw. Considerin the life expectancy impact o television uiss in partícular, we can warn consumers o the potential dangers o siclike products.

Naitur wis here afore us. It gies us aw we need tae survive. We can wirk wi it, and no agin it, for tae thrive as a species. We can big technology, and we need tae for tae live in the kin o society we dae. And we need technology for tae git tae new places. But we can taper thir technological developments. Wir lifes shouldnae revolve aroond it. Wir lifes should revolve aroond life itsel.