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Technology Addiction An Nguyen University of Colorado at Denver

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Section One: Policy Claim The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) should create and enforce a law that educates Americans of the influences technology have on communication. Section Two: Defining Terms The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) should create and enforce a law that educates Americans of the influences technology have on communication. a. FCC: The source for my definition is the FCC home page. The FCC site defines the FCC as “an independent United States government agency…established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…[over] 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. possessions. b. Create: The source for my definition is the dictionary.com page. This source defines create as “to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.” c. Enforce: The source for my definition is the dictionary.com page. This source defines enforce as “to put or keep in force; compel obedience to.” d. Educates: The source for my definition is the dictionary.com page. This source defines educates as “to inform.” e. Influences: The source for my definition is the dictionary.com page. This source defines influences as “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”


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f. Technology: The source for my definition is from the book Communication Technology: The New Media in Society by Everett M. Rogers. This source defines technology as “the hardware equipment, organizational structures, and social values by which individuals collect, process, and exchange information with other individuals.” g. Communication: The source for my definition is the book Introduction to Communication Studies by John Fiske. This source defines communication as “transmission of messages; the production and exchange of meanings.” Section Three: Stock Issues and Supporting Documentation A. Stock issue one: Is there a problem with the status quo? Yes. My factual claim is that there is no current law that offers education on the impact of technology. The Internet is one of the biggest threats to personal communication. This technology is addiction that many can’t break out of—an addiction that simply starts with the touch of a mouse. So, why is it that there is no law educating Americans’ of the impact that this powerful technology imposes on communication? As stated on the Federal Communication Commission website, “The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.” (2009) The FCC was established to regulate communications channels all but the one form that can be argued to have the most impact on communication—the internet. The internet is “the electronic network of networks that links people and information through computers and other digital devices allowing person-to-person communication and information retrieval.” (DiMaggio, 2001) According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press


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“The internet, which emerged this year [2008] as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news.” (2008) America is one of the most technology savvy countries in the world, which is why, there is no surprise that our dependency on the internet increases every generation. In fact, as of 2008, the internet only rival is television. B. Stock issue two: Is the problem w/ the status quo significant? Yes. My factual claim is that the internet can lead to addiction causing users to lose out on the vital benefits of interpersonal communication. In his book Psychology and the Internet, Gackenbach defines internet addiction as when “an individual [becomes] so involved in their online use as to neglect other areas of their life” (2007). They lose the ability to manage their time, anticipating their next online session, and isolate themselves from the outside world. In short, they jeopardize their regular life in return for this artificial world. In a study conducted by Yuen and Lavin, they found that “shy students were more likely to use the Internet compulsively, leading to failings classes and eventually leaving school;…because [they] preferred online interactions over F2F, their offline social skills suffered. Internet addiction is when the internet user can no longer control his or her internet time and starts to live an unhealthy life in isolation from the outside world—isolations from one’s friends and family members. Also, as Yuen and Lavin found, by relying on social networking sites these college students lose social skills that are crucial to success in the real world. Communication via the internet and the communication held in a face-to-face setting are drastically different from each other. Internet communication does not deliver the eye contact, change in tone, or body movement that makes interaction personal. We must be aware of the amount of time spend on


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the computer screen because internet addiction can affect all of us; ourselves, our friends, and our family members. The emergence of the internet influence on personal communication all began in the late 1990s—the year the internet was invented. Since the internet was created, we have found many uses for it, one of the most popular of which is as a way of communication. As more households began to own computers and more people were introduced to the World Wide Web, the concern of losing the rich face-to-face communication to the convenience of social networking sites have increased. In today’s generation, more find themselves investing more time on the computer screen rather than being out socializing in public. Our generation is so technology savvy that kids as young as 10 have already been introduced to the web. In a national survey conducted by the pew Internet & American Life Project, 55% of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites. The percentage of usage is as follows: 48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more; 26% visit once a day, and 22% visit several times a day (Lenhart, 2001) Now, this is a survey conducted in 2001, imagine how much higher the percentages of visiting these sites have increased by now. Time only becomes important when we have the option of choosing what to do with our time. As Kraut says, “Internet communication might encourage people to spend more time alone, talking on-line with strangers or forming superficial ‘drive by’ relationships, at the expense of deeper discussion and companionship with friends and family.” (2002) The internet is a superficial world to which one can be drawn and trapped easily, it is a world where internet users can isolate themselves from the outside world—ultimately, living in their own internet world. People might find themselves being drawn to the conveniences of this technology without ever stopping to consider what they are giving up in return for the quick amusement that the internet


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offers. The internet just can’t convey the type of physical human communication that facial expressions and body language can. When we choose to let the technology devour more of our time, we are then diminishing that personal feeling that only a face-to-face communication offers. C. Stock issue three: Will the plan to solve the problem work? Yes. My plan to have the FCC involvement in educating Americans about the influences of the internet will work in having an impact on us. Take this story study for example about a meeting between a 15 year old boy and two girls. Tell me, after reading this story that this little piece of education did not enrich you on how the internet can have an impact on Americans? There are other cases where friendships developed over the internet and were taken to the next level – a face-to-face meeting. Frequently, the image of each other already formed online was a disappointment compared to what was actually real. Take the example of a 15 year old boy in the Greenfield Online group who met two girls online. They decided to meet up after many sessions of online chats; but, it turns out that the two girls were not what the boy imagined them to be. The boy stated “after meeting our online and offline friendships died off” (Lenhart, 2001) Social networking sites are great places to meet people, but just how real those friendships turn out to be might not be as pleasant as we had hoped. In a perfect world, we want to believe that appearances do not matter, but it is in our nature to judge others. Although the internet offers us this conveniences: “the lack of the usual ‘gating features’ to the establishment of any close relationship-easily discernible features such as physical appearances [sic]” (Mckenna, 2002). But, we make friends based on our interest, and physical image is the first thing we see of one


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another. Social networking tools might be a great way to meet new people, but not be so great to build and maintain friendships. It is, however, undeniable that friendship does develop online, but just how reral are such “friendships?” As Catherine Dwyer states, “The defining characteristic of social networking sites is extremely impersonality. The people that one talks to on these sites are not treated as other humans. They appear more like characters in a story” (2007). People exaggerate and lie about who they really are and what they really do. We do not know any more of that person then what that person allows us to know, “People will try to distort the truth to make themselves look better to the masses, whom they don’t even know” (Dwyer, 2007) One can only rely on the words on the computer screen and one’s own imagination when it comes to getting to know an online friend. This friendship cannot compare to the more personal, more real friendships developed in a face-to-face meeting. While many may find comfort in the excitement of meeting new people through networking sites, they neglect to see the superficiality of online communication. According to Johnson and Sauler, “over the last ten years of research on psychology and the Internet, there has been a general recognition that people often behave differently when online than in roughly equivalent offline situations” (Gachkenbach, 2007) Social networking sites such as MySpace give internet users the ability to present themselves through a manufactured profile to the world. The information that people give you online might not be who they really, but who they would like to be. The sad reality is, we can only believe what is being presented to us, especially so, if the information is presented on a website.


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D. Stock issue four: Do the advantages of the plan outweigh the disadvantages? Yes. To develop a better understanding of how the internet affects communication within a family, anthropologist Elinor Ochs, director of the UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families studied 32 families for four years. The case study that we will be looking at is the Cox family. After a long day of work, parents Stephen and Georgina Cox came home only to discover their 14 year old son Piers logged onto MySpace and AOL instant messenger while his twin sister Bronte was busy surfing the web and instant messaging. Psychologically, they each existed in their own universe, too busy to even notice the parent arrival. Ochs team of observers found that it was difficult for the parents to penetrate the child’s universe. They actually have videotapes showing parents backing away from kids who are absorbed by whatever they are doing. Both parents are worried about how the kids’ screen time is affecting their schoolwork and squeezing out family time. The father, Stephen says “We rarely have dinner together anymore, everyone is in their own little world, and we don’t’ get out together to have a social life” (Wallis, 2006). This case study provides an insight to what is happening in American families in today generation. The concern that worries Stephen is something that should be addressed because kids are already starting to develop at a very young age, an unhealthy addiction to this technology. It is important to manage the time that we and our love ones spend online because maintaining that personal family time is an important part of life. The feelings and emotions that can only be experienced through a face-to-face interaction are gifts that make life worth living. If this family were educated about the possible impact the internet could have on their family, they might had avoided this problem before it immerged. Another benefit that comes with educating Americans about the impact of the internet is to help prevent miscommunication. Misunderstanding in communication occur every day, but it


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is more likely to happen across the internet because “many of the cues human use to size up other people-such as gestures and tone of voice are missing” (Marcia, 2006). It is difficult enough to avoid misunderstanding even in a face-to-face conservation; but, misunderstanding is not as likely with those visual and aural cues that a personal interaction delivers. The non-verbal cues that we depend on to express our feelings and to understand other’s intentions are something that is not offered online. The smallest details such as the way we dress, tone of our voice, the color of our hair, the shoes we wear, and the way we look at one another all influences social relationships. When those cues are no longer present, it is easier to fall into a state of misunderstanding. Although the internet has made communication more convenient, Americans needs to be aware that this tool still lacks important elements that only a personal interaction can have, so that misunderstanding are better prevented. Lastly, the richness that personal communication offers cannot be compared to the impersonal interaction with the computer screen. The internet cannot deliver the same emotions, sensations, or feelings that a face-to-face conservation can. It is our responsibility to enourage those moments that makes life wonderful. As psychiatrist Edward Hallowell said: Technology is not really the problem. The problem is what you are doing, you are not having family dinner, you are not having conservations, you are not going on a family ski trip or taking time just to veg. It’s not so much that the video game is going to rot your brain, it’s what you are doing that’s going to rot you life. (Claudia, 2006) Due to the challenge of setting a limit to our internet usage because technology offers a convenient alternative to old-fashioned socializing, the FCC should set up a law that educate our


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society of technology impact on communication. There is no denying that the internet is very beneficial to society; but, if we are not educated about this technology, it can cause great harm to our society by targeting a crucial element in our daily life—communication. The cost of providing this education section in the FCC would only cost money and time. However, we cannot allow the computer screen to take over our lives or the lives of our loves one, the internet should only be a tool that assists us and benefits our lives, not replace our lives. We must not be drawn excessively into this artificial world created by the internet—a world that can offer us such conveniences alternative to interpersonal communication. With the FCC involvement in helping educate Americans about the influences of technology on communication, we can avoid this superficially world, and have time, time to give the world a chance to show us what it has to offer us. Section Four: References (2009, February 03). Federal communication commission. Retrieved from http://www.fcc.gov/ •

This is credible, it is the government! Right?

(2008, December 23). Pew research center for the people and the press. Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Outlet, Retrieved from http://people-press.org/report/479/internet- overtakes-newspapers-as-news-source •

They say they serve as an important information resource for political leaders, journalists, scholars, and public interest organization and they are one of the projects that make up the Pew Research Center, which is, a nonpartisan “fact tank.”

DiMaggio, P. (2001). Social implications of the internet. Annual Review of Sociology, 27(307-336), Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2678624?seq=1 •

He works for the department of Sociology at the Princeton University in New Jersey. Plus, I had this article from JSTOR which is a very credible resource.


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Nathalie , Y. (2004). Cyberpsychology & behavior. Internet Dependence in the Collegiate Population: The role of Shyness, 7(4), Retrieved from http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cpb.2004.7.379 •

She works at the Department of Psychology at the St. Bonaventure University in New York.

Clemmitt, M. (2006). Cyber socializing. CQ Researcher, 16(27), Retrieved from http://0library.cqpress.com.skyline.cudenver.edu:80/cqresearcher/cqresrre2006072800. •

This was published by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc. Marcia Clemmit is a veteran social-policy reporter who preiously served as editor in chief of Medicine and Health, a Washington industry newsletter, and staff writer for The Scientist.

Dwyer, C. (2007) Digital Relationships in the ‘MySpace’ Generation: Results From a Qualitative Study.” Lecture. Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Hawaii International Conference. •

From Pace University, and this was published by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc.

Gachkenbach, J. (2007). Psychology and the internet. Alberta: Elsevier Inc. •

He’s an author! And his book is publish!

Kraut, R, Kiesler, S, & Boneva, B. (2002). Internet paradox revisitited. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 49-74. •

From Carnegie Mellon University

Lenhart, A, Lee, R, & Oliver, L. (2001). Teenage life online the rise of the instant message generation and the internet's impact on friendships and family relationships. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 1-46.


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She graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a double major in English and Anthropology, and earned a Masters with distinction from Georgetown University in Communications, Culture and Technology. Amanda directs the Pew Internet & American Life Project's research on teens, children and families

Mckenna, K. (2002). Relationship formation on the internet: what's the big attraction?. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 9-31. •

Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University.

Tyler, T. (2002) Is the Internet changing Social life? It seems the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 195-205. •

From New York University

Wallis, C. (2006, March 27). The Multitasking generation. Time, 48-56. •

Time Magazine is always reliable.

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