The New World Order: have we gone too far with technology?

Sexting, Technology and RelationshipsIt is a different world than the one in which most of us were raised in, in terms of technology and convenience.  Technology is here to stay to make our lives easier.  We don’t have to remember phone numbers, look at a map to get where we are going or worry about complaints of “are we there yet?” when we can rely on our devices to inform and entertain us.  We can now answer medical questions, get answers to questions like “What does this rash mean?” and make airline reservations, pay bills or compare prices from the convenience of our homes because, “there’s an app for that”.

All of this convenience has an unfortunate downside.  It is difficult to manage the awesome power that is embedded in today’s technology.  Gaming system, tablets, smart phones are everywhere from our homes and desktops to our pockets and purses.  Technology offers fun, interesting and educational alternatives.  It is convenient and quickly turned to for entertainment or to keep the kids quiet on long road trips.  Schools are using the Internet to communicate about assignments as well as directing students to use it to support learning as literature searches are now performed electronically. It can be a marvelous tool with a wealth of information.  On the other hand, once the device is in a child’s hands, it presents parents with unprecedented challenges.

The amplitude of the stimulation that makes games/media exciting provides a heightened degree of sensory input into the nervous system, which can shift the threshold for engagement and excitation leaving normal life dull by comparison. “I’m bored” can become the complaint of the child who is used to this supercharged input stream.  The high rate of interaction between the game and the gamer, or the viewed and the viewer with rapid shifts in input requires little reflection or working memory to get satisfaction from these activities. This may challenge the development of top-down modulation for the management of attention and working memory in the presence of distraction, a skill that is under construction in childhood.  If shaped by gaming or media, how prepared is the young brain to face real world problem-solving such as those presented by demands of homework, requiring short-term memory, reflection, and manipulation of ideas to answer comprehension questions or write a research paper?

On a social level, the two dimensional world of the flat screen does not support the development of communication. It is estimated that as much as 93% of communication is non-verbal, leaving only 7% to the words themselves. Consequently there is significant loss of meaning and intent when reliant on the words alone as in texting/communication via keyboard.  Furthermore, with the shield of anonymity provided by a device, there can be cover for intentionally hurtful language without the real time feedback of how the other is affected.  In the case of video and media, while there is non-verbal communication (facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, gestures, timing, intensity, etc.) there is an absence of the dynamic experience of face-to-face social interaction.  Skills such as social problem solving, compromise and conflict management may go underdeveloped.  Consequently, the technology intended to improve the quality of our lives can instead lead to its deterioration through social disconnection, cyber-bullying, loneliness, social and work place challenges.

As parents, it is widely accepted that it is not healthy for your child’s development to allow him to eat candy all day every day at every meal.  We know that he needs to have a balanced, nutritious diet with an occasional treat. The challenge technology poses is how to regulate it when it is both the broccoli and the Halloween candy.  This is further complicated by the reality that a parent cannot supervise every minute the device is in a child’s hands and he knows how to navigate between programs and pages quicker than you can bat an eye.  Boundaries need to be set. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO media for children under 2 years of age and no more than two hours a day of “high quality content” for children and teens.  If a child doesn’t abide by the limits, more direct intervention needs to be considered.  While there are parental controls that can be set and programs installed to monitor websites and duration of use, a motivated child can find ways around them. In some cases, more drastic measures may be necessary including, but not limited to, removing devices, cancelling Internet services and disconnecting TV satellite connections.  It is important to intervene early, as the challenges can grow because the reliance on devices can become habitual.  It is unfortunately not unusual to hear children say that their life is not worth living if they can’t have access to their on-line activity.  The stakes are high and, while technology has made some things easier, parenting our children so that they have an appropriate relationship with devices and the world around them is not one of them. Unfortunately, there is not “an app for that”… yet!

About the Author

Debra Kessler, Psy.D. Debra Kessler, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the care of children and their families. Dr. Kessler was awarded her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University. While working as an RN in Pediatric Intensive Care, she pursued a Masters Degree in Pediatrics from UCLA to further her skills in caring for children. After a career in nursing that included bedside nursing, Kessler chose to focus her attention on addressing the emotional needs of children and their families by obtaining a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at California School of Professional Psychology. Her post-doctorate work was done with Child Development Institute treating autistic and developmentally challenged preschool and young children and at Reiss-Davis Child Study center addressing the needs of school children, adolescents and their families. She has contributed to Infant/Child Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Relationship-Based Therapies: A Neurorelational Framework for Interdisciplinary Practice (Lillas &Turnbull 2009). Dr. Kessler has an active practice in Montrose, California. In a family centered manner, she treats a range of developmental and emotional issues including adoption/attachment difficulties, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, learning challenges, regulatory difficulties and other issues that interfere with children reaching their potential.

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This is a great article. Our world is so different than it used to be and too often now I see people mindlessly talking on their phones or texting on them in public while not even paying attention to anything around them. Eventually someone is going to get themselves killed because of their lack of self control. I refuse to even join the mindless zombie apocalypse for several reasons. First off, people are just brainwashed that they need these devices. I’m not arguing the fact that they can help pass the time when need be, but too many make the point that it’s great for emergencies. You don’t need a smartphone for an emergency so to speak, and most people don’t have an emergency 99.99% of the time, so it’s just a cop out response. Second of all, and the saddest one I’ve heard yet. Children as old as six don’t even know how to operate actual books. They try swiping the paper to get the page to change. Are we so far gone that we can’t even teach our kids the very basics to life? Kids are started way too young with these things in school. They don’t need them. It’s just sad that people really don’t even have to use their brains anymore. I just shake my head when someone says how they never have to remember phone numbers or dates anymore because the telephone remembers it for them and how wonderful that is. Your brainm like your body, needs a workout too. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Where are these people going to be when they can’t even remember the simplest things? Early dementia? I believe this new technology will eventually come with a steep price tag and while people right now are too brainwashed to see it, eventually years down the road it will start to sink in. It’s like the new AT&T commercial, 4 lines with 10 gigs of data, unlimited talk and text for $160 a month. And the family of simpletons thought that was great! Great?! That’s over half what all my bills cost for the month. Not to mention it will “Really help them to connect more”. Really? You can’t open your mouthes and talk to each other? People who buy into this garbage is being taken for such a ride every month. If you’re foolish enough to spend $2000 a year, just on a mobile device…I don’t even have the words to finish that sentence. It’s just ridiculous that people are nuts to pay that much a year just to look impressive. Not everyone cares that you have a smartphone and you purposely flaunt it around in public to make yourself look like you’re some CEO of a Fortune 500 company. In my eyes, you make yourself a target for theft because thieves will see you own a cell phone and then when you’re not looking, they’ll find a way to steal it. Real smart if you ask me. So personally, I believe smartphones and mobile devices themselves are truly turning people into mindless zombies and simpletons. Few may agree with this now, but down the road, hopefully more people will start to wake up realizing that we definitely should have limits on this technology and how much it is shoved down our throats.


I completely agree with you, Tommy. Feel depressed when I think about how much time I have wasted behind a computer screen. I won’t be making that mistake again in the future.

mobile price

I completely agree with you, Tommy. Feel depressed when I think about how much time I have wasted behind a computer screen. I won’t be making that mistake again in the future.


I am no fool. I knew what was happening as soon as people started acting like cellphones are better than house phones and phonebooths. The destruction of human interaction and technology controlling our lives. But not me, it’s not going to happen, never has, still hasn’t, and never will. I’m in favor of reading books, buying movies on videotape, letter writing, and meeting people outside. Technology is turning into the enemy and most people are too blind to see it. Remember when people used to sleep and dream at night? Now all we do is zone out in front of a computer screen all night. It’s time to unplug from all this craziness and go back to nature.

Mrs X

thank you so much for putting this out. i have been very discomfitted by too much computerized electronic car tech, as well as the handheld and wireless RADIATION gadgetry. we HAVE gone too far with the marketing sales of the big tech companies. That’s all it is- moneymaking ploys, for the unaware or foolish sheeple to enrich the wiley.

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