The utilization of technologyto create and maintain relationships among people has become commonplace.

According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of American adults who owna tablet computer increased from 3 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2015, andthe percentage of American adults who own a cell phone increased from 53percent in 2000 to 92 percent in 2015. Furthermore, in 2015, 76 percent ofonline adults used some type of social networking site, compared to 8 percentin 2005. Technology is often introduced into a social system with the statedintention of making life easier for people. As technology becomes morepervasive in everyday life, the assessment of technology’s presence inrelationships and its impact on how humans interact with one another is anemerging area of study. There are many perspectives on the relationship betweentechnology and human interactions and relationships. It is purported that theintegration of technologies in everyday life can have profound effects on humanrelationships, in both positive and negative ways. More notably, technologiesimpact on or interfere with how individuals engage in interpersonalrelationships, behave within relationships, and project feelings and meaningsincluding displays of emotions and love.

Essentially, the new technologicallandscape now connects to what it means to be human.Some of us may remember classrooms withouttechnology — computers were just on the horizon and if they were present,students shared usage of one or two. Along with the increase in Drummond 2availability of technology in education comes thewide-spread application — from learning games to taking notes, tablets,laptops, desktop computers, and other devices have become a vital part of ourday-to-day teaching. Have you ever wondered what impact all thistechnology usage is having on our students and their ability to functionsocially? You may have noticed students have a hard time putting down thetablet or seem more comfortable communicating with a character in an online gamethan they are with their classmates.

What role does technology play in ourstudents’ social development, and how is it impacting these skills?Before we dive into the relationship betweensocial skills and technology, let’s talk a bit about what social skills are andwhy they matter. Social skills arethe tools we use to interact with others. Most of the time we’re not thinkingabout our social skills too much. Think back to the last time you met up withfriends. You probably used a good deal of positive social skills you learnedalong the way, like making eye contact, smiling and laughing at appropriatetimes, pausing at the right time during conversations, and answering/askingquestions at a relatively even distribution. Did anyone actually ‘teach’ youthese skills? More than likely, you simply picked them up along the way. Howdid this happen? In bits and pieces as you interacted withothers, you began to notice and adapt to their social cues, which are subtle verbal or nonverbal actions that letyou know what would be acceptable or unacceptable.

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These include things likefacial expression, tone of voice, body language, and direct wording. Let’s sayyou’re talking to your friend about a new job and you  Drummond 3suddenly notice her eyebrows raise and she looks alarmed.Though she isn’t telling you outright, you will probably notice these cues andask her what’s up.

 Social cues are important for many reasons but mostlybecause they help us navigate social situations. Your students need to learnand develop these skills in order to interact in a society — to make andmaintain friends, get a job, talk to the bank teller, and so on. How do theydevelop these skills? You guessed it, they learn them by interacting withothers. Information overload hasbecome a reality, with the Internet providing much more knowledge at the clickof a mouse than could even be imagined in the past. This means there is muchmore data that can be communicated about any topic than was previouslypossible, limited only by our own ability to find, absorb, and store thisinformation. As a result, savvy communicators have learned to turn towardspecific technology solutions to help them harness, organize, and manage thedata deluge.

The Spreadsheets app from the multi-platform office solution WPSOffice, for example, allows users to more efficiently contain and categorizedifferent types of data using commonly used formulas. The app offers built-intables and cell styles that simplify data organization and presentation. Technology is impactingdevelopment of creativity in children and teens:Technology has completely changed virtually everyaspect of our society over the past few decades, from the way we work to theway we socialize and everything in between. One of the differences that havebeen most noticeable is the change in the way that children play and interactwith each other from previous generations. Although technology does providemany positive benefits for learning, it also can have several negative effectson child development and Drummond 4quality of life.One of the biggestdifferences in the way that children live today is that they don’t get as muchexercise as they used to. This is because technology such as computers, smartphones and television encourages them to be sedentary when they get home fromschool, as opposed to going outside and playing with other kids. Child obesityrates have risen drastically over the past several decades.

In 2012, the childobesity rate was measured to be 18 percent, which is an 11 point differencefrom the obesity rate in 1980. While many schools and parents have made stridesto change this by promoting organized exercise both during and after school, westill have a long way to go in helping kids playing in more conventional ways.In addition to not gettingenough exercise, many kids do not experience the benefits of spending timeoutdoors when they are heavily reliant on technology for entertainmentpurposes. Spending time outdoors has a huge number of positive effects on thebody?—?it provides you with exposure to sunlight, which supplies your body withVitamin D. This helps to fightinfections and keep your skin healthy. Additionally, regularexposure to sunlight helps to keep your sleep cycle regular by influencing thebody’s production of melatonin.

Recent research has shown screens from devicessuch as tablets and smart phones emit harmful blue light that can causeheadaches, eye strain and irritated eyes for children. Furthermore, sleep isalso disturbed by harmful blue lightwhen children are exposed to screen time in the evening due to the suppressionof the hormone melatonin which regulates the sleep wake cycle. This makes itincreasingly difficult for a child’s body to effectively prepare to get readyfor a goodnights sleep.Technology also hasprofound impacts on the way children think and feel. Since technology is fullof stimuli and often requires paying attention to many different things atonce, Drummond 5children who play many video games or spend most oftheir time online tend to have less of anability to focus than kids who use technology minimally. It can alsoaffect the way kids process information?, ?when kids are exposed to high levelsof technology, they tend to think through things only superficially and don’tdevelop the ability to think critically or be creative when learning newconcepts.Technology changesthe way kids socialize and interact with others, which can have huge impacts ontheir mental and emotional well-being.

It has now become common knowledge thathigh levels of social media use, in both kids and adults, can lower self-esteemand create negative moods. However, all types of technology can actually havenegative effects on children when used in excess, because they lower children’sfrequency of interacting with their peers. This makes it more difficult forthem to pick up on social cues and develop meaningful relationships withothers?—?something that can have serious negative consequences as they grow anddevelop. They also have a difficult time developing emotions the same way otherkids would if they spend too much of their time with technology and not enough timebeing engaged while in the presence of others.

 Technology can bea constant distraction from reality:Office distractions eat up an average oftwo hours a day per person, and that’s in addition to the way we distractourselves. Human beings switch activities every three minutes, meaning wechange focus up to twenty times each hour. If we apply ourselves, we can focuson a task for an average of eleven minutes before getting distracted; it thentakes twenty-five minutes to return to  Drummond6the task, if we do at all. Overall,distraction and wasted effort cost organizations around $650B each year. We can continue theway we are, struggling to focus, becoming overwhelmed, stressed out, andmiserable, which has a negative effect on our relationships, health,reputation, and sense of fulfillment. (Technology certainly isn’t helping.) Orwe can accept certain truths about the way we work and make a cultural shift.Likemost everything else, cell phone usage can become an obsession and we can spendtoo much time using them, they can become invasive of our lives.

Everyonethought the television was wonderful until we found that a lot of Americanswere watching television when they should have been exercising, completing aspecial project around the house or even doing their homework. Cell phones arejust like many devices – when used carelessly or to excess, they become moreharmful than helpful.Cellphone usage has become a major contributor to accidents and other incidents. CitingEdgar and Snyder, a law firm representing injury cases, 1 out of every 4 caraccidents in the United States is caused or related to texting and driving. That’s330,000  injuries per year justassociated with accidents caused by texting while driving. To put it intoperspective, answering a text while driving takes your attention away from theroad for about 5 seconds.

If you were traveling at 55 mph, that would be enoughtime to travel the length of an entire football field.             So what’s being done to combat the surge in accidentsrelating to cell phone use and driving? Many cell phone companies haveimplemented options on phones similar to the ‘do not disturb’ feature thatessentieally lets people know that you are unavailable when you are driving andunable to respond at the moment. Banning cell phone usage is anewer law which has come Drummond7about because of the highlevel of distraction from the devices and the amount of people using them. Somestates ban all usage while others ban more specifically texting. Texting bansare now enforced in 39 states and it is expected to expand to all 50 states.

Many experts compare using a cell phone while driving to drinking and drivingdue to the high level of distraction and the amount of time the driver’s eyesare off the road. If you are caught using a cell phone in a way which isbanned, you could potentially be pulled over and ticketed by a police officer.Fines vary and insurance carriers will likely see the violation and add a surcharge toyour car insurance policy at your next policy renewal.            Technology,whether we enjoy it mildly or rely on it for almost everything, has become adrastically major role in our day-to-day life over the past decade. While thereare major advances impacting a positive change, such as medical advancementsand car technology, the negative impacts cannot be ignored. People are changingthe way they socialize with each other.

The loss of human connection is forcinga world of hermits in a younger generation that are being fostered to be moredistant in person and are losing the right of free thinking and creativity. Ourconstant ‘distractions’ have become a commonplace comfort and hiding place thatis all too easily accessable for everyone young and old. In a world where the nextnew thing is always sought after and envied, if not owned, perhaps it’s time westop looking down so much and start looking up.