The Round Table

Has Technology Ruined Our Teenage Years?

33818807 - close up of green like and red unlike keys on a computer keyboard

33818807 - close up of green like and red unlike keys on a computer keyboard

Sophia Scorziello, Staff Writer

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Can you remember those days when you left home with nothing in your hand? When you showed up to a party with no need to record every memory of the night? When you were able to throw both hands up at concert and not worry about posting every second of it? I doubt it. As children, the teenagers of this generation got to run through playgrounds without cell phones and iPads and got to learn with paper and chalkboards instead of tablets and smartboards. We know life without technology being thrown in our faces. We’ve lived lives of freedom from a 24/7 connection. But as we all got a little older, technology seemed to implement itself a little more in our lives. By the time we were in middle school, the iPhone was evolving to be more than just a way to send a text or make a call. Snapchats of what we were doing in our 8th grade classes or Instagram posts of our night at the mall became the new norm for all of us. But can you even imagine years later how the idea of having to make our teenage lives look amazing through our phones crippled us all?

This need to constantly update each other or check in on one another’s lives can become exhausting. It’s like this chain tied to you leg, that whenever you walk too far away from a connection to all your friends you’re tugged right back. And I know I can’t make assumption for all teenagers (I have friends who deleted Snapchat months ago and live their lives free of excess connection), but the majority of us feel like we have to post every event in our lives –you know, pictures or it didn’t happen. With this constraint, our minds are flooded with what pictures we’re going to take or what captions we’re going to use. We never live for the night that’s happening around us or the concert we’re at right now, but for the night that we want other people to see or the places we want other people to know we went to.

Sometimes you think, what’s the point of going somewhere if I can’t post a picture of me there? And it may not seem like that happens, but trust me it does, and it’s frustrating. I just want to go somewhere and not feel obligated to update everyone on where I am.”

There’s this story I remember hearing countless times. My aunt was 19 in the sixties, just beginning to find herself as a person. She had an itch to leave home and start fresh, so that’s what she did. She got in her car and drove across the country, from state to state, sleeping where she could and getting by how she could. She woke up one morning on the side of a highway, not realizing where she was when she went to sleep the night before. She made it all the way to California, and while her family had no idea where she was, and while that wasn’t the best idea for young girl, she never forgot that trip. She remembers every place she stopped and used that freedom from home to help herself grow. Now if she did that today, it would be pretty easy to track her from her phone, and she might have had this urge to tweet that she woke up on the side of the road. She wouldn’t have had that freedom from a connection and she wouldn’t have been able to find herself in the way that she did. I’m not saying technology is this evil thing for teenagers to have access to, but it sure does take away from the rawness and spontaneity and freeness of these years of our lives. And I know we hear this kind of spiel all the time, but when you live it everyday it’s hard to ignore.

We can’t stop the evolution of technology and we shouldn’t, because it’s made our lives so much easier in so many ways. It’s important for us going through this crucial time in our lives to understand that these are the days that we make mistakes and learn from them to better ourselves in our journey to adulthood. The connection that we have to each other all the time may make us feel like we can’t make these mistakes and that we must be picture perfect all the time, but a separation from our phone life and our real life is important so we can give ourselves the opportunity to slip up sometimes. As trivial as some may think it is, it’s actually liberating to leave your phone behind some days and just live for yourself and not for your 1,000 followers. We live more if we hold onto our phone less.

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Has Technology Ruined Our Teenage Years?