Surfeit Uiss o Digital Technology

Technology, an the mair by taiken digital technology, haes baith positive an negative eftercomes. Technology can hecht possibílities we wadnae itherwise hae. On the yin 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. An that’s braw; A wadnae can write this airticle itherwise. We can keep in touch wi fríends an faimily on the ither side o the warld. But, at the same time, digital technology can distrack us fae actual real life human traffeck that we war born for. For wir psychological growthe, as weel as ither aspecks 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 thair day ’ithoot takkin tent o ither fowk aboot thaim, heid plottit in a mobile phone. This is juist a ensaumple o the fack that fowk maks nimious uiss o technology, inspecially digital technology, thir days. Scientists ken smartphones reduce concentration an IQ an yet some fowk gang on thaim insteid o talkin wi fowk in front o thaim.

The warst victims o this (amang wir ain species) is bairns an teenagers. Thay miss oot on social an 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 televísion haes negative eftercomes on the psychological development o bairns, as weel as thair lairin an thair halth.1 A New Zealand study shaws that weans that watch less televísion git thair equivalent o Highers either than thaim that watches mair televísion.2

Social skeels, like lairin leids, is gey an important for wir species. An bairns can anerly lair leids by interaction (wi responses) wi ither human beins. Sae, in general, weans that sits in front o screens, gif it’s smartphones or televísion or whitivver, lair tae speak later, an less, compared wi ither bairns.3 4 An this is true yet whan the televísion thay’re watchin is specífically myntit for eddication!5 An, gif thay dinnae hear ither humans speakin wi thaim, thay’ll nivver lair. 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 an concentration.6

On tap o the eftercomes on social an cognitive skeels, we can gang intae the eftercomes o surfeit uiss on ither aspecks o halth, like acoustic neuroma, doun-castin an stress. Acoustic neuroma is a kin o tumour that can gar a body lose thair hearin an 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 An than there’s the connection wi doun-castin.8 An this dint tae yer heid is aw the mair a gray gate while fowk is in the fou course o growthe; thair brains isnae fou developpit yet.

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

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

An than thare 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 an siclike. An that’s space that coud be itherwise be hained for naitur. An than anither that’s relevant tae the environs is that a fack masel A didnae realise till a few week syne: uiss o the warld wide wab haes a impack on the environs itsel, in partícular acause o the data centres uised tae rin sairches15.

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

Communication is either 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 hail chairacter. Sae that’s anither advantage o uisin digital technology. An, wi the internet, we can gain access tae information we wadnae itherwise hae. Resairch on the internet can uise wir brain in positive weys.

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

In ither contex, on the ither haund, we dinnae need aw that technology. For ensaumple, gif we’re brainstormin, aw we need is wir brain. An mibbe 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 actívity that helps wi developpin yer imagination, a capacity that’s important for bairns’ cognitive development16 as weel as developpin thair empathy.17 Readin isnae juist guid at de-stressin18 but is even yin o the best weys tae de-stress.19 Or pentin. Or craft. Or sport. Ony nummer o mair actíve tasks an actívities.

An, while technology can help us wi the ecological transítion, 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 shoudnae come afore basic aspecks o wir lifes. An bairns need thair interaction, sae lat’s gie thaim whit’s auchtin thaim.

An lat’s consumers git whit’s auchtin thaim an aw. Consíderin the life expectancy impack o televísion 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, an no agin, for tae thrive as a species. We can big technology, an we need tae for tae líve in the kin o society we dae. An we need technology for tae git tae new places. But we can taper thir technological developments. Wir lifes shoudnae revolve aroond it. Wir lifes shoud revolve aroond life itsel.


James McDonaldJames McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an thair forderin, whether it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in schuils, helpin bairns wi thair hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contack him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.