Avoiding Technology’s Venomous Fangs

by Eliza Petersen

Technology has improved exponentially in the last fifty years. Mind-blowing inventions and technological advances make it so every piece of human information fits into a pocket. Technology can be used for incredible good; people can communicate from any two places on Earth, warnings can be relayed, and communication between humankind has never been faster, easier, or more efficient. Religions have grown due to technology; life-saving phone calls are made every day. The good of this wonderful medicine is unlimited. But as with all medicines, if overdosed, technology becomes a subtle and fatal poison. Hundreds of thousands of humans spend countless hours sucked into technology’s captive jaws. Lives are destroyed, relationships charred, and families reduced to rubble because of this consuming evil. But technology does not have to be evil. With the creation and enforcement of technological fences, this incredible invention can be used enhance life and not detract from it, much as medicine improves one’s quality of life. Technology is a powerful force for good, but moderation must be used and boundaries drawn in our lives to avoid the terrible destruction that this amazing invention can bring.

As mentioned, technology brings about bounteous good in our world today. There is great music available online, on iPods, phones, and many other digital devices. Families connect together on Facebook and Skype. Several times over the past few months I have seen videos of cousins doing darling things and have bonded with them and their families because of it. Several years ago, my family’s close friends moved a couple states away. Our physical connection severed, we would talk and hangout on Skype, thus prolonging and renewing our friendships. Video games and movies are fun to watch or play and excite the human imagination. Hundreds of photos recall past memories and enjoyable experiences. My siblings and I have made dozens of home videos and grown closer together in the process. Calling and texting are huge helps when it comes to planning activities and relaying assignments and messages back and forth. There are so many great things that technology does. Another is connecting with past relatives—those who have died either recently or in the far past. There are dozens of online sites allowing information, stories, dates, characteristics, and experiences of past ancestors to be discovered. There are so many opportunities to learn through technology. The possibility of finding out anything one desires with a few clicks and taps of the keyboard is mind-boggling and exciting. Learning and enjoyment takes place every day in part due to technology’s aid.

Using technology for diversion and entertainment has become this invention’s main use in our modern world. Games such as Flappy Bird, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, 100 Floors, and many others are amusing and enjoyable to play. It’s fun to escape into games, movies, TV shows, cell phones, online games, and any other thing technological. These activities are perfectly fine in moderation. But electronics become a problem when given the majority of someone’s time. It is scary to realize just how sucked in some people have become. Instead of using talents, acquiring skills, trying new things, and reaching out to others, entire lifetimes are spent in an alternate, digital world of flickering screens and colorful animations. Hours spent on electronics means little time spent on bonding with others and creating human relationships that last far longer than the high score on Flappy Bird.

A close relative of mine spends every spare moment of time playing mindless games or drawing on his iPad or iPhone. Even if one of these two preoccupations is not employed, he still is surfing the web or watching movies all by himself in some remote place. The effects of these actions are heart-wrenching and painful. Sometimes his children don’t feel like they have a father. He is in an emotional and mental prison; a captivity that is comparable to a physical prison where one may be put because of drug abuse. But in this case, the reason for imprisonment is technological abuse. Only recently has this relative started fighting his addiction. He spends less time on electronics, and more time with his family doing worthwhile and long-lasting activities.

Addiction to technology is real. It is just as controlling and addictive as marijuana, smoking, or chewing tobacco. Once in its grasp, the victim has lost his or her agency and can no longer chose for his or herself. The only way to unlock their dungeon door is to reach out for help from others. As Randall L. Ridd of the Young Men’s General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said in his talk “The Choice Generation” during the LDS General Conference of 2014, “Your choices determine whether technology will empower you or enslave you.”

Truly, this addiction hurts families as much as an alcoholic addiction would. Alcoholism happens when someone has lost control over their drinking habits. They have literally become physically dependent on alcohol. Similarly, people addicted to electronics are emotionally and mentally dependent to this escape from reality. Addiction to technology is even harder to combat than attachments to drugs or alcohol because it is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. We are required to use computers and phones in our modern world and are constantly exposed to them whereas drugs can be avoided and never partaken of. This is why it’s important to decide to control technology before it controls you.

So how can addiction to electronics be avoided? How can we gain the upper hand over electronics? Only true effort to establish technological boundaries can keep us out of addiction. Setting limits is the key. My two younger siblings have recently started to enjoy online games and iPad activities. At one point, their thirst for electronic interaction began consuming them. That is when my mom stepped in. Now, these two can only play for an hour a day at the most. On days off of school, this limit is extended to an hour and a half but must be spent in three separate, half-hour increments. Thanks to my mother drawing and enforcing these boundaries, my brother and sister are in control of electronics instead of the other way around. Moderation is the most important element to dealing with technology and is achieved by setting up technological fences and limits.

Technology can be a divine and wonderful source for good. It can be the strong ox helping us pull our load of responsibilities, or it can be a mad bull beating us black and blue. It is a delightful medicine that enhances the quality of life, or a toxic poison fatal to one’s mind and heart. If boundaries are not drawn and proactivity not taken, it can be easy to lose oneself in electronic escapes. Responsibility and control can be ours and the spectacular invention of technology can be used for the magnificent purpose it was designed for.