Millennials, Internet and Technology– A Good Combination?

Every millennial owns a smartphone before even before he/she is matured socially. There are allegations that these smartphones and the internet together affect the social well-being of a child. Parallelly, one can argue that the advent of such technology has exponentially widened the horizon of exposure of these young children who go to school. They have access to everything on the internet at the tips of their fingers. This has caused their lifestyle to be completely different from the previous generation, that is, children who were born in the 90s.

The internet and phones steer the children from actual contact with people. A “text” is the easiest mode of communication that has been invented and it reduces, while sometimes even eliminating, the need to physically meet another person to communicate. Their communication skills are not exactly impeccable considering that the ‘texting’ culture has encouraged the use of acronyms and abbreviations to the point that nobody likes to use accurate grammar while speaking as well. Texting has made communication easier, for certain, but it has also caused children of these days to forget some important aspects that were earlier a prerequisite to have a conversation with a stranger, or even your friends and colleagues. Technology initially meant to unite us and give us virtual proximity despite the distance. Instead, it is now posing as a hindrance to socialising.

In a report filed by Nielson who studied the behaviour of millennials in various situations, he concluded that the millennials were a distracted audience. Any small window of time they find was used to spend on smartphones. Smartphones are the means for them to use social media and access any content online. For instance, if there was a primetime program screening on TV, the moment the show was paused to air an advertisement, the children would use their phones to browse social media apps like Instagram or Snapchat. This is now common behaviour observed by everyone.

According to a recent study conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span has dropped to 8 seconds from 12, which was initially measured in the 2000s. The human attention span is now lesser than that of a goldfish, which is 9 seconds. This was of course attributed to the proliferation of technology. Technology has given access to information that would have never before been available. The search engine powered by Google is a genius invention that now enables people to retrieve information in seconds. This thought has been imbued in the minds of children at an age when the mind needs to be rigorously exercised to be able to identify its limits.

In the absence of such a need, children grow up entertaining themselves constantly, using the tools available to them- technology and internet. For instance, recently the meme culture has been in vogue. Memes are images, videos or small snippets of texts that are circulated widely with slight variations that is designed to amuse the reader. They are often meant to expose slightly different, never before perceived perspectives of daily mundane activities. Some argue saying that these memes help them relate to fellow humans. They feel relief that more than one person feels the same way they do, causing them to unite. Others contradict that millennials today have their eyes peeled to their phones all the while ignoring their problems.

Phones and social media were invented to make communication easier. Instead, it is now causing rifts in the lives of people. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the USA is caused by texting while driving. India has lost 26 people every day due to road accidents caused by distracted driving in the past year. These are not the only effects of shortened and distracted attention spans of people everywhere. They seem unprofessional due to bad body language and inability to maintain eye contact. These are simple social skills that children need to develop during their years in school. Millennials have independent beliefs owing to the vast information available to them. It is our responsibility to kindle and nurture their curiosities in ways that benefit them and the society as a whole.

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