Does Technology Affect Happiness?

Description: A study from Stanford University, published Wednesday, wrestles with a new question: How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?

Source: nytimes .com

Date: Jan 25, 2012

happiness

The research raises as many questions as it seeks to answer, as the scientists readily acknowledge. That is because the research was based on an online survey taken by more than 3,400 girls, a sample that may well not be representative of the larger population and, because the responses are self-reported, are not subject to follow-up or verification by the researchers.

Among the crucial questions that the researchers were not able to answer is whether the heavy use of media was the cause for the relative unhappiness or whether girls who are less happy to begin with are drawn to heavy use of media, in effect retreating to a virtual world.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?
  2. Do you have confidence in this studies finding? Why or Why not?
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28 thoughts on “Does Technology Affect Happiness?

  1. Yuliya

    Technology is definitely shaping our lives in ways that could have never been predicted before. Technology has made our lives much more convenient and easier, yet it also has had more negative impacts on us. We have access to an unlimited amount of information at our fingertips; the sky is the limit in terms of what we can apply it to. Yet it also has negative side effects such as neglecting many other aspects of our personal lives, due to only focusing on technology(whether it is working or for entertainment purposes). The types of environments we find ourselves in today do not mirror those of our evolutionary past, but we are able to vary our behaviours in such a manner that allows us to quickly adapt. This is a very important notion to keep in mind, especially when considering the development of children. They have specific developmental milestones that are met through physically exploring the world, as opposed through a tv or iPad. I believe finding a balance between other fulfilling aspects of life and technology is crucial to proper development, especially that of the brain. Today’s cartoons are filled with constant stimuli where the child is constantly bombarded with changing images. There has been much research that has dwelled in to this and some conclusions show that it negatively affects children’s attention thresholds. A balance is therefore crucial.

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  2. Stacey Demchenko

    Despite the many benefits and gains from the advancement in technology, I think that is is important to turn attention to the potential negative impact is can have on children, both socially and emotionally. It is hard to make it a measure of happiness though, in my opinion. If a child is ‘happy’ interacting in a virtual world as opposed to actually going down to the playground and meeting new people, then how can you say that ‘technology made them unhappy’. With that being said, I think that face to face communication is very important for children to develop to their fullest potential socially, cognitively and emotionally. Without this learned behavior of communicating, how are they supposed to succeed in the future when they aren’t able to understand the importance of face to face communication? But adults fall guilty to defaulting to emails, text messages, etc. rather than face to face interaction as well. It isn’t just having an impact on children, but on adults as well. I think we have forgotten that there is a certain time and place where virtual interaction is perhaps easier and more convenient, but that it does not mean that is should be the means of all communication.
    It is hard to have confidence in this particular study, when they are measuring ‘happiness’. There are a lot of factors that this study has left out, and no follow up was done. However, I think that with more research, the findings of a study on the impact technology has on social and emotional developments could affect younger generations and what could be done to avoid this.

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  3. Landon Feser

    Technology is dramatically impacting individuals, and most importantly children. Even though adults are becoming more involved with the ever-evolving social media, they have already had the opportunity to develop those critical relationships by “getting out” and having the necessary interactions. The amount of exposure that kids of this generation have to social media etc. is unimaginable. What happened to the good old days where kids were ordered to be outside? What happened to kids wanting to be outside? This is where the whole problem begins. By having all this technology available to them, kids do not have to develop relationships outside of the computer screen. And in turn, are being deprived of developing critical life long social skills. Facebook is a good example of where kids go to when they have nothing else to do. Those that are the happiest kids are those that have friendships outside of Facebook. I will somewhat agree that social media helps connects individuals, but for social media to really serve its purpose, I believe that individuals need to actually experience the relationships that are established via the computer. Although this article only identifies a particular age group of girls, I think it speaks well for the male gender of this age group as well.

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  4. Lindsey

    I do not have much confidence in this study’s findings for several reasons identified in the article. The first concern being that they don’t know whether girls are already less social and retreat into the digital world as a response, or if the technology interactions are making them less social. Secondly, not being able to verify the girl’s ages is a big deal – an antisocial five year old may have a harder time being social and happy as a grown up than a happily developed kid who utilizes technology once they are mature enough to know that is one of many mediums of communication, not a substitute for face to face communication. A third issue I have with this study is that is found its participants based on people who read a magazine, so you can assume this isn’t representative of a diverse population since everyone who participated in the study could read English (assumed as their first or primary language) and were from a family affluent enough to spend the money on an item as disposable as a magazine. This article doesn’t take into consideration living standards (money makes it easier to be happy than poverty) or family set up. Overall, I would consider this to be a mildly interesting surface level study, but not one I would give much merit, or even a second thought, to.

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  5. Oyinkan Bakinson

    Have you ever seen an ad for the latest smartphone? I’m sure you have. There’s a common thought that goes through peoples mind and that is “that is so cool, I want it”. This can actually affect certain people adversely. I have seen lineup for phones people getting so upset when they are sold out. It is probably a good idea to get outside and get some sunlight rather that staring at the screen all day. On the other hand spending too much time online might not necessarily be a bad thing; there are educational things on there as well. This is just a matter balance. There are other things in a person’s life that could possibly affect happiness not necessarily just time with technology.
    I do not have confidence in this study. They surveyed about 3400 young girls who don’t really understand that material possessions are not really as important as living life. The demographic is too small for such a study. The human mind is a complex thing and a questionnaire with about 80 questions does not really tell us a lot (though it is understandable since little kids get bored easily). I don’t think those girls spend 24 hours a day and 7 days a week facing a screen, their emotional development will still be developed through contact at school and with their parents.

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  6. Sean

    I believe technology is affecting young children negatively both emotionally and socially. When we were children, we spent hours outside, every day when we would come home from school you meet up with friends in your neighbourhood and play tag. Now-a-days children are being affected extremely negatively by technology. By spending hours on end on the internet, children are missing out on the face-to-face social interaction and personality building, whilst maintaining a non-active lifestyle.
    As far as confidence goes in this particular survey, I have very little of it. As mentioned, there are many factors that impact how a particular person will respond to technology such as their demographics and household incomes. One good thing about this study is the fact that some companies and parents will be able to see ways in which technology affects younger generations, which could in turn help parents develop understandings on the ways it effects their children and teach their children how to use technology to better themselves (in moderation).

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  7. Alexi Kubeczek

    How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?
    One doesn’t need a Doctorate from an IV-League university to see that there is the technological generation is getting robbed of their youthful happiness by way of the newest iPhone 8000 that surely, will be coming out in the next 6 months, if the same rate is ongoing. Just think about it: ” I really want to play soccer. ” versus actually getting out of the house and doing it. What’s more fun? What looks more appealing? Since so many get into the habit of being lazy and not being active (not just with athletics, but DOING SOMETHING), when the time comes that kids really need to face a situation that they’re not used to, they might feel ashamed or uncomfortable. And, just like that, you’ve trained someone to never want to play soccer (or do any other desired activity) ever again. Or, worse, though we try to negate bullying, this person might get bullied and there you have it: a new patient needing mental health care. Not that there is anything wrong with the person; they’ve just had little to no exposure to something and in comes a negative consequence that can be life-changing.

    Do you have confidence in this studies finding? Why or Why not?
    I think there are points which I agree with completely and there are points that I think might just be ”Corporate fluff”. Really, this is one of those topics where you could say almost anything about the topic and it would make sense to at least one other person. What we need to understand is that Technology is a wonderful ingenuity. But, it also has the power to obliterate some of the finer developments of humanity.

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  8. Janelle M

    I think this becomes an ongoing question which is almost impossible to accurately answer. With a new social world, communication has changed drastically, and in this case, rather quickly. I don’t feel the argument that media lessens happiness is valid or relevant. Happiness is an intangible which becomes difficult to gauge. Whether communicating in person or online, the “level of happiness” acquired from the activity is completely relative for each person. It also becomes problematic when taking the entire sample from online users. How can they determine the difference in “happiness” when there is nothing to compare it to? Regardless, the argument that online interactions lose value due to the inability to absorb body language and other social cues is an interesting one. I agree that there is some level of communication that is lost. However, with ability to speak freely and in a faster pace than before, people are connecting on deeper levels at rapid speeds. Due to social media, it is now possible to grow your network and establish friendships with people you would otherwise never have had the opportunity to connect with. These benefits alone should at least bring some value to our “happiness” from the use of media.

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  9. Cody Nielsen

    1) To me technology is affecting their happiness because they are not interacting with people as often and are also not as physically active. Some of this unhappiness may come from the subconscious; they may not realize they are missing out until they feel they are already unhappy. I think not being physically active has a very large part to do with not being as happy as one can be. Not to say these people aren’t being active, but to spend many hours a day on the screen could be hours spent pursuing a sports hobby such as soccer while you’re a teenager.
    2) I do not have much confidence in the study because it’s hard to substantiate. They don’t know how old the girls are, they don’t know their background, home situation, education, extra-curricular activities, or even if they are girls answering the survey to begin with. With a lack of this info as well as not being able to follow up, the survey’s results can be used for much going forward in my opinion. Also, more than 3,400 people need to be surveyed to see if it can be applicable to a nation or even worldwide population.

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  10. Andrew Garlock

    This article, although founded in poor research, does at least raise the question for parents as to whether or not they should look at restricting time online for the children. Personally, I find that spending too much time online drains me, and I expect it has a similar effect on everyone, including 8-12 year old girls. I think a major part of that has to do with creativity, as most people go online so they don’t have to think, they can just let their facebook feed tell them what they should find interesting. It is always difficult being a kid, and the problem with being online is that it give the children who are prone to being reclusive and anti-social an avenue to become even more so.

    However, on the flip side of it, there is also a great deal of online communities which encourage things such as writing, drawing, composing music, and other creative outlets. It gives everyone an outlet for their youtube videos and an audience for their art. Being online is indeed a double edged sword, and when it is put to a creative use, it can be used to cultivate expression in an age group where identity is important to find. So the question is, is this online community a good substitute for interacting with their classmates face to face, or is it beneficial for kids who are identifying with like-minded individuals over the web? Do they lose out on important time face to face to learn about communication traditionally? Will technology eventually catch up, so we will accept that interactions through something such as skype be good enough to substitute for face to face interactions?

    I think, for now, it is always best to simply proceed with caution, and observe everything in moderation. Times are changing very quickly, and childhood is very short.

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  11. James Perry

    Technology today is greatly affecting the youth. With all of the social media that the youth have access to today, leaves the face to face interaction decreasing more and more. It is easier to send a text message or facebook message to someone than it is to track them down and talk face to face. I understand that it is more convenient at times, but there is definately a time and a place to use these types of media. Espesially when trying to portray emotions through these messages in social media. The message and feelings get lost in the message and alot of times misunderstood. Youth today would rather sit in front of a computer, then being social outside of the house and gaining new knowledge and life experiences. It is alot simplar to read about an activity on the internet, rather than getting out and figuring it out first hand yourself. Social media to me is stunting our youth and depriving them of the life experiences and face to face socialization that i encountered growing up.

    I dont find the studies all that relevent to what they are trying to portrey. A more in depth and more precise study would need to be done, targeting a specific demographic and specific age range. This study was good in the sence that it was trying to adress a serious issue in today’s society with the overall happiness of the youth today but to say that their is a direct relation between technology and happiness is a stretch. I do believe that the youth today should spend less time on social media and more time interacting face to face. But ones happiness i dont believe is affected as much as the social interaction that they are losing out on.

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  12. Jordan Gibson

    1.How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?
    As technology becomes even bigger in the lives of children growing up in the world today, it also presents both positive and negative effects to these kids as well. The world is flat now, with the capabilities to connect with virtually anyone, at any given time, and any given location. Because of this, kids are able to reach out to their friends 24/7. However, with saying of that, I believe this is a negative to the younger generation because it totally eliminates the need for normal communication skills. Instead of actually having to travel to talk to someone, or walk up to an individual and strike up a conversation, kids just press a button or send a simple text. If this continues on its out of control path, how is this new generation ever going to be able to sit through a job interview or another given situation where it is essential to have good communications skills. A serious question that must be answered in the near future.
    2.Do you have confidence in this studies finding? Why or Why not?
    I am definitely a little skeptical on the studies as far as the total amount of research that has been done here. In order to provide a more credible research proposal, I think that these studies have to go more in depth and the landscape as far as who you are studying has got to become broader. This study is mainly focusing on younger girls, but what about the boys too? I think in order to farily access the matter you would need to survery both genders and in larger portions as well. This way the data would be realistic to what is actually taking place, because what someone is doing somewhere is not necessarily what another person is doing somewhere else at a different location. Environment could play a big factor in the studies.

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  13. shaunagregus

    I believe that technology has indeed affected the emotional state of the younger generation. Without the benefit of a face to face interaction, you lose a level of connectivity and thus it is easier to say things one might not otherwise say. For example, it may make it easier for you to talk to someone you “have a crush” on, or it may make it easier for you to cat call and bully someone. Because you don’t have to physically witness their reaction, and it is usually done over a public platform (such as facebook), it makes it much easier to separate yourself from the harsh realities of the comment.
    Social media sites are littered with people taking self portraits of themselves, their friends, and their belongings as if to show off to anyone they call a “friend” how much fun they are having, how good they look, or just how generally awesome their life is. This can cause younger people to feel that they have to compete with one another to keep people interested in them and make them envy their things or their lives. Now, self confidence comes from the number of likes one receives on a photo or a status. Say the wrong thing and everyone knows about it- kids aren’t free to be kids anymore. They have way too many things to worry about, like appearing “good” to everyone online. With the focus on creating this alternate, perfect world, they are losing sight of the real world in front of them. Thus, when faced with real world challenges we often find them unable to deal because they have been enveloped in a world of false pretense for so long.
    These studies in general are not particularily accurate but I believe they are headed in the right direction. Technology does have benefits, but it can also harm youth when they use it as a tool to obtain attention.

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  14. Greg Goodwin

    Technology may be impairing the emotional development and happiness of young girls because they lack social behavioral cues that they may have normally picked up on as well as tones of voice. That said, we live in a technologically developing world, and this is something that we are going to have to manage ourselves. Like knowing how to do laundry, or cook for yourself, using technology in a healthy way is something that our generation, and future generations, will have to learn to do.

    I do not necessarily think that the use of social media and technology is the cause of unhappiness on young girls (or boys for that matter). I do however, can get behind the idea that perhaps the younger generation is using this technology too much, and perhaps not using it in a healthy way. Cyber bullying has become a big problem among young people and this kind of bullying can be particularly hard on young, emotional girls. In this respect, then I do think that not having a healthy mix on virtual and real life is essential for happiness and emotional development. Technology is a definite supplement to the social life of each young person today. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or even role playing games such as World of Warcraft can be a serious help in social networking. Of course maintaining moderation.

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  15. Matt Gough

    In the article they interview a lady named Lena Garzarelli, who I feel makes a good point. She says “technology, as a whole, has helped enrich her daughter’s social life but feels that it could be a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction”. The recent advancement that have been made have been incredible and very beneficial to our world. It helps make the things we do for work or pleasure much easier and are keeping the world better connected. But if it is the only thing that runs our life then we are missing out on several opportunities to increase the skills we need to develop to be successful. Face-to-face communication is an important skill that we need. I know that when i have days where i use different forms of technology for long periods of times in a day, that i feel a lot worse and am more tired than if I was out interacting with friends and getting things accomplished. i have some confidence in the things they found from the study because i can relate to feeling unhappy on days where i sit around and do nothing. But I don’t have full confidence because just like it said in the article, there is very little known about the subjects who filled out the survey, you can’t follow up on the level of happiness a person is experiencing.

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  16. prashant malik

    I believe that technology effects one person’s happiness but only to a certain extinct. If one person spends all his time in front of computer , or chats with his friends through text or watches TV all the time , he is actually missing the fun of communicating through words and miss out on the opportunities to interact with others face to face . When one talk on cell phone or through texts , sometimes the actual meaning of the discussion can be misunderstood because he is not seeing other persons reactions while communicating. Nowadays children are so dependent on these technologies and cannot seem to function without it . The survey gets on to critical think on the impact technology is having on social behaviours of young kids nowadays. If the greater part of how a kid communicates is on social media, you really would have to wonder how such a kid would develop people skills. New forms of entertainment, such as video games and internet access could have negative effects on areas such as academic performance . When children spend all the time on computer screen and not enough time socialising , they find it difficult to talk when suddenly they have to speak to a lot people due to lack of confidence. Technology also leads to mankind’s violent nature. I think that human creativity is lost in the binary logic of technology. Also , they don’t get any opportunity to learn to behave in a social environment.

    I don’t think that I have confidence in this study finding as the survey was done on only 3400 girls . WE cant ignore the advantages of technology . Through technology , we can talk long distance when ever we want . Technology has brought about development in many fields such as medicine, government, business, education, etc. Extensive technological advancements have made it possible to verse friends or strangers in our favourite games online, as many COD lovers would know. Communication is a big part of our lives and as software has continued to advance, the world has become smaller. This being due to the fact that technology has enabled us to stay in contact with friends and families wherever we may find ourselves in the world.

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  17. Helen Reina

    How is technology affecting their happiness and emotional development?
    It depends, according to the study young people is losing face to face contact and this can provoke a feeling or a not real communication because other people cannot see or hear their emotions while they are speaking or in most of the cases writing.
    Things like learning how to interpret people´s behavior maybe through the way they are acting in the moment, are one of the things they are losing for example knowing if it is true or false what they are saying due to body posture, raise of an eyebrow, a faint smile or frown or other things is something young people does not how to use or decipher

    Do you have confidence in this studies finding? Why or Why not?
    Maybe it is part of true involved in this study , because I can noticed that in my environment specially people that is younger than me like my little cousins, they are talking to their friends and also their parents and family through technological devices and they are losing the face to face situation. So, I agree with this study in part. because in my case I think it is really important the face to face relation with people and it is better and I use technological devices for communication but I still think it is better to see the people face to face.

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  18. Kathie

    I believe that technology can affect a young person’s happiness, but only to a certain extent. If somebody is spending all of their time online every day, they will miss out on the opportunities to interact with others face to face and I believe that this will impact them in the future. If the only form of socializing that a young teen knows is online socializing, they may not be comfortable with socializing with people in real life in the future. However, as the article stated, though online interaction may not be a good substitute for face-to-face interaction, technology can also help improve the social lives of teens as well. Programs such as Skype and social media websites such as Facebook provide young teenagers with more opportunities to communicate with their friends. The opportunity to socialize online can make it easier for kids who are too shy to start a conversation with somebody in real life to come out of their shells.

    I do not have much confidence in this study. I feel that determining whether or not technology can affect the happiness of somebody would be very difficult because there are many other factors (family, self esteem, school life) in their lives outside of technology that influence their happiness.

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  19. Ida Draper

    I think that there is to the very least some truth to the study. Multimedia means of communication does leave out a lot of the details that are important to humans in learning to communicate effectively. With the joys of communicating through text there is often meaning lost because you cannot see how the person is saying the information. As the article had mentioned, miscommunications do occur because a social cue that would be known during face to face communication would be missed and the message would take on an entirely new meaning. Girls tend to learn how to pick up on physical cues in conversation faster than boys but this is a learned skill that needs to be practiced over time. Not something that can be learned over a text messaging conversation. I can see for girls part of the temptation of communicating over the internet is being able to find someone that understands you. In school, for the age groups mentioned, it can be a place of judgement and bullying, the online socialization with other people that have been through or are going through the same situation as you can be comforting. It does give the girls a chance to talk to someone about any problems. It would be interesting if they were to look at redoing this study in a more controlled environment with both boys and girls to see an accurate comparison between the two groups.

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  20. Haley

    I believe technology has a serious potential to affect young children negatively emotionally and socially. If you think about back in the day when there was very limited technology, when my parents we young, and even when I was a child you couldn’t spend hours a day online in the house out of the nice weather enjoying life. You had to talk to people face to face or actually call them instead of texting, now a days people can communicate to friends and family without actually seeing or hearing them for months. I personally think some children are being extremely affected negatively by technology. To spend 6.5 hours a day on the internet, facebook, messaging people etc seems like a quiet, lonely, boring, non-active lifestyle. If you look at the amount of young kids being bullied online, the internet makes it possible to not only be “tough” but also the ability to be hidden in a way. I think social interaction is important for children when they are growing up, so they can learn how to have a healthy relationship and how to live in the world etc.
    As far as my confidence in this particular survey it is very limited. There are certainly so many other factors like race, family life, income, and age that would definitely impact the answers to the survey and they did not have any access to those facts. If a young child comes from a low income, single parent family who may already be emotionally strained then her take on technology may be different from someone from a upper class family.
    However I think it is good that the study is at least getting to the point of technology and the effects it has on our younger generation, and maybe this is a step towards some understandings and new developments.

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  21. Jordan Slemp

    There is really no evidence supporting that the subjects are less happy. The research’s goal is to find out if extensive media leads to children being less happy. I don’t believe it came to a conclusion for or against that. The article did say that heavy use of media is decreasing time spent interacting face to face with other individuals. That fact could lead to a conclusion that children’s social skills are decreasing. For example, some of the test subjects admitted to having trouble picking up on emotional cues of individuals they are interacting with online. This would lead to that skill being diminished over time. And all though the research didn’t say it, I have seen a lot of people who struggle communicating face to face and much prefer the online world. They seem awkward when face to face.
    Over all I do not trust the findings of this study. For the reason they never really came to a decisive conclusion. Though the study did put forward some very interesting points and questions for future research.

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  22. Edward Agyapong

    Well, personally am on the fence when it comes the issue of technology and happiness. Why because, for others it serves as a source of happiness and fun. If one can wake up everyday in the comfort of their homes and just sit in bed to order unlimited movies to watch, why will he or she like to walk to block buster to order or rent movies? Besides, in price comparison; online rentals are now way cheaper than the regular rental procedure and it will make the person very happy. Yes this scenario limits the face to face contact but personally that is ok for me. Yes it is because, if and when i want to communicate with my friends and family; I have Skype nad now even facebook has a video calling system as well. In this case the complains that Technology is taking away happiness and the normal study of human face to face interactions to me is false. If one can connect virtually with friends and family all over the world by just a single click on the computer, who would rather get on board a flight to see their loved ones anytime and whenever they feel like having a conversation?
    Irrespective of the person’s gender, technology in a way has improved happiness and in a way has taken it too. “A double edged sword” as said in the article.

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  23. Tayler Orban

    The study seemed to contradict itself but it did make some good points. I do not think happiness and emotional development can be 100% related to technology because there can be many underlying factors and this is not strictly black and white- there are many gray areas with issues related to technology. I have observed the difference in my life since technology has evolved and it has been mostly positive but I do notice that I prefer to sit on my phone or laptop for hours instead of go and do active things. I have also noticed this with my younger cousins because instead of using colouring books they prefer to use the colouring book app on their iPads. I do not think this affects their happiness because they are just as happy watching movies or colouring on their iPads as I was colouring in my colouring books. Emotional development on the other hand is a bigger issue but I think there needs to be extensive research done. The research that was done for this study was not totally accurate or totally thorough which makes it hard to have confidence in their findings.

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  24. Jessi Chrapko

    The article makes the statement that technology makes it easier for children who are already less social to withdraw further and live in a virtual world. As the article also suggests, normal development to respond to body language and tone of voice in face-to-face interaction may be being compromised due to the extensive use of technology.

    I agree with some of the other comments that these concerns are valid for all children, not just the girls mentioned in the article. I think back to how I used technology when I was a kid and compare it to how my young nephew uses it today. Playing the occasional computer game was about the extent of my use of technology as a 12 year old. My 12 year old nephew today plays a huge variety of games on his iPhone, texts, has access to the internet nearly everywhere, and will soon be more exposed to social media sites. I didn’t use technology this much till I was 16 or 17. I think it can negatively affect happiness, especially young teens and children because they become so concerned with how they are portrayed to people through texts, IMs, Facebook, etc; people they aren’t even physically around.

    The anonymity that technology has also leads to cyber-bullying which certainly can affect happiness. Kids today not only have to deal with face-to-face bullying, but cyber-bullying that can come at them 24/7.

    A person can’t have confidence in this study’s findings since it mentions that it isn’t a proper study with control groups, random participants, etc. It is limited to young girls whose exact age isn’t known and that volunteered to fill out the survey. However, it helps to raise the concern of the impact technology can have on developing children, and that some balance should be made with regards to the amount of access these children should have to technology.

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  25. Lanre Paulissen

    I might be wrong but I love to say that if it has a screen, it has an extremely high probability that it would be addictive. I remember walking by Tim Horton’s and I noticed three friends who sat to together to have a bite, the awkward thing was that each was glued to his or her smartphone. I then wondered the essence of sitting together if the communication would be with other friends in a virtual world.

    It’s hard to state in conclusive terms how technology is affecting the happiness and emotional developments of the respondents in the survey. However, the survey gets on to critical think on the impact technology is having on social behaviours of young kids nowadays. If the greater part of how a kid communicates is on social media, you really would have to wonder how such a kid would develop people skills. Furthermore, this mode of communication might also affect the kids writing skills. There is a way you write IM messages; you try to shorten every word imaginable for obvious reasons. The challenge with this is that kids then do not know how to construct proper sentences in writing let alone engage in academic writing. They are able to say it but they find it difficult to put it down on paper. As a kid, we wrote letters and posted them, I can’t imagine writing those letters the way I would communicate via an IM medium today.

    As per affecting happiness, I feel this happens because some kids might want to measure up to other kids or friends they have online and when they feel that are not capable, they feel terrible about themselves and in worse cases may even slide into depression. I’m not a Facebook user but I remember one of the things that put me off back then was that I realized quite a number of my peers went on the site to peek into what others were up to. I did not see anything constructive they were doing online and yet they spent awful lots of time on there.

    I don’t have strong confidence in the study’s findings because the methodology is not standard; as the article rightly noted, “… the research was based on an online survey taken by more than 3,400 girls, a sample that may well not be representative of the larger population and, because the responses are self-reported, are not subject to follow-up or verification by the researchers.” However, the findings are interesting and leave much to be explored along these lines.

    Reply
  26. Nicole Freeman

    I find it interesting that the study was by invitation through a popular magazine. The methodology doesn’t seem particularly scientific and the respondents are unverifiable, but even so, the findings are certainly interesting. I remember my own daughter using social media to connect with other students at her virtual school (she was home schooled for several years). The conversation moved into some very sensitive territory regarding the acceptance of homosexuality and when the debate got heated, the sparks started flying. What I found most interesting was the way students were addressing each other. They were saying things over the internet you would NEVER say face to face. Using a computer to communicate gives people a certain sense of anonymity to share uncensored opinions (or personal attacks) without getting the feedback you would normally receive in face to face interaction. This can leave one person feeling rather superior and the other crushed. It was a great opportunity to discuss this phenomenon with my daughter but what if I hadn’t been around and she had taken these insults to heart? I can see how this study could be invaluable as a tool to get a dialogue started with young people, and not just girls.

    Reply
  27. mark schmitz

    It’s subjective to give an opinion on how technologies are affecting this sample group, however; I do have an opinion based on my own observations with my own sister. She is 9 years younger than me. I watched her behavior during the time smartphones made it into the pockets of kids in grade 5, 6, and 7. I used myself as a referent when observing how her behavior differed to how I conducted myself at that age. Keep in mind, I am a dude and this study is based on girls; my experience was quite different growing up than hers I’m sure.
    In class, I used to mess around and get into all kinds of trouble. I was called out numerous times for disruptions. When a teacher would turn around, I would snap back in my seat and shut my mouth as if the teacher had no intuition whatsoever. Now, the teachers turn around and stare at a bunch of kids that look like they’re praying. While not posing as a proximal distraction they are definitely not learning anything because their faces are glued to their phone.
    As far as how technology affects their happiness and emotional development-the more positive human interaction the better. Technology seems to take that away from some kids. Friend networks are being highly promoted online. They’re mostly superficial and have little substance. Having online friends doesn’t bring joy to your life nor does it create good-times.
    I have no confidence in this study. The sample size is not large enough and there is little demographic evidence to support the participants.

    Reply
  28. Justeen Kolody

    Technology seems to be having negative impact on the children of today, even though this article specifically focuses on “younger” girls I think it is an issue for most children today. There are some benefits such as the learning interaction games, but at what costs. Most children know how to operate an iPhone or iPad before they can even read.

    Back to this article in general I think it is good that there is awareness being raised about this topic. As the younger generation do seem to have problem communicating face to face, but have a seeming good social life. Problem is that there social life is revolving around Facebook, twitter and what ever else is online. But I am not so convinced that it is a worse problem with girls, boys just as equally need to pick up on the subtle cues that other people can portray while in face-to-face conversation. This is just going to lead up to a larger problem when these media dependent children grow up. How can they ever have a successful job, conversation, or just even know how to behave in a professional setting (not whipping out there phone at every opportunity). If those face-to-face social skills are not being developed that will have a major impact in the later years of their lives.

    As for having confidence in the studies that were conducted, I think that a much more specific and a little more in depth research should be done. This study is so broad in scope because they are not even sure the age of the candidates that took the survey, only that they were girls. As I’m certain there is many more factors involved with technology and social skills then presented in this article, and that it is not just confined to one gender.

    Reply

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