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EDITORIAL – Let’s steer our youth from the gadget junkie

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL – Let’s steer our youth from the gadget junkie

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EVERYWHERE THESE DAYS, almost everyone has moved onto the information technology platform. Once there is access to a table computer, laptop or the seemingly ubiquitous BlackBerry, people will immerse themselves in the benefits and joys of the Digital Age.
If we would be honest, it is one sure step to take, lest we are left lagging. We must use it to the benefit of selves and country – for pleasure and for business – the information technology and world connectivity that surround us.
It isn’t every new set of wares that is thrown at us by techie innovators and marketers we need blindly gobble up. These touted problem-solving technologies will not always live up to their reputations, particularly when improved efficiencies and productivity are promoted as guaranteed without the unique intervention of the old, analytical human mind.
Already we are seeing elements of the younger generation being adept at computer games and social media, but grossly incompetent in natural social skills and severely challenged in traditional educational pursuits, even unable to carry on any in-depth conversation.
A fallout of this obsession with – nigh addiction to – the social media of Twitter, Facebook and the like, and the continuous BlackBerry texting, is the destruction of language and its spelling as we know it. Then we are flummoxed when even people with degrees cannot write a proper job application letter, or when winning senior school athletes express themselves incoherently on their techniques for victory.
Oxymoronically, advanced information technologies have brought with them some very serious setbacks.
Only recently in Britain, researchers found that nearly eight in every ten students subjected to a complete social media blackout for just one day suffered adverse reactions: from distress to confusion, to feelings of isolation. The craving for the gadgetry was overwhelming.
One student was reported to have said he was “itching like a crackhead” – that would be like a cocaine addict being denied his snort.
The study at Bournemouth University involved 150 students between the ages of 17 and 23, representing ten countries, including Britain. For 24 hours the youths were barred from the cellphone, the Internet and all its social networking sites, and TV. They were permitted to use a landline phone and read a book, and requested to keep a diary.
Participants diarized their distress. Several confessed they didn’t know what to do with themselves. The technology has been providing the only social network these young people know. It was what they had been plugged into all or most of their lives.
We have a case study to draw from. The youths of the world are not any different from ours when it comes to being plugged into the social media. The powers that be need to take advantage of our better behaved young souls in Barbados and influence and channel them into more responsible usage of the technology for their own favourable maturing – and for the peace of mind of the rest of us.