In 1922, a doctor’s kit was the most desired toy in the United States. Almost all toys on the website “Hot Holiday Toys for 2012” were either electronic or electronic related. These toys range from Furbuddy, an electronic pet that talks, to Nintendo and Wii’ games and gaming systems. What impact is technology having on people? Today, with thousands of video games offered; nearly 1 billion users on Facebook; and the average person checking their phone close to 75 times per day, one can only wonder how this affects people psychologically. This can be seen in how the internet offers amazing information and opportunities that have changed the way people communicate.
Internet World Stats website cites that the internet users have grown over 566% since 2000. Ease of access to information and communication is, of course, a big reason to use the internet, but is there more to it? Is the ability to control completely the information one reads and the people one interacts with a part of this draw to the internet? The person who holds the mouse is in control when he or she surfs the web. He or she chooses which sites to go to and which people to interact with. In many ways the user feels safe. If something negative online occurs, one can simply exit the site. On Facebook, if someone posts something the user doesn’t like, the user can block the sender or “unfriend” the offending person. Unfortunately, this negative online interaction is all too frequent.
Cyber bullying is the act of bullying using electronic technology. It has become so serious that laws have been passed to outlaw it; going as far as jail time. Cyber bullying occurs with one out of six children. It can be devastating because it can happen 24 hours per day and every day of the week. The worst part about Cyber bullying is that it can even happen when the victim is alone. Cyberbullying Research Center states, “There have been many high profile and tragic incidents in the media in recent years which have linked adolescent suicides to experiences with cyber bullying.” The technology used in this type of bullying ranges from cell phones, social media sites, to chat rooms.
It has become such a problem that many schools have created programs to discuss the harmful effects it causes. Cyber bullying is an example of the disinhibition effect. Psychologists have created this term meaning when people online loosen up, feel more uninhibited, and express themselves more than they ever would in a face to face conversation. It can be threatening and hurtful as in cyber bullying; or it can be what psychologist call benign disinhibition. This is when a person reveals secret emotions, fears and wishes. The user may share too much about themselves, but overall it is not harmful.
This sharing of experiences has been seen as a very positive experience when regarding veterans. Many times soldiers come back from war and have feelings about their experiences that they feel civilians do not understand. Sites and chat rooms have been created to fill this need. As John Suler author of The Psychology of Cyberspace states they don’t have to worry about how others look or sound when they “say” something. Seeing a frown, a shaking head, a sigh, a bored expression, and many other signs of disapproval or indifference can stop what people are willing to express. Not being able to see expressions of a person’s feelings, leads to one expressing themselves more openly. This has created support for not just veterans, but others who reach out to people “like them” so they can connect and feel understood. Another group who seek to connect with each other are gamers.
Video games have exploded in popularity since 1947. Now over 72 percent of the Americans play video games. Video games have been proven to increase decision-making skills which come in handy in a fast-paced world. They have also been proven to improve men and women’s ability to picture 3D objects states U.S Department of Defense researchers. However, as much they may be helping gamers with thinking skills; violent video games are certainly not helping with violent behavior. A study was done with two groups of college students; group one played a violent video game and group two played a nonviolent video game.
The researchers measured how the students felt and how they behaved. Social Psychologist Brad Bushman at Ohio State University showed the groups two violent pictures: one of a man shoving a gun down another man’s throat; another of a man holding a knife to a woman’s throat. “What we found is for people who were exposed to a lot of violent video games; their brains did not respond to the violent images,” Bushman said. “They were numb, if you will.” People who play violent video games become numb to the violence they see. Knowing this, one may find it disturbing to know that the top three most sold video games in the US, are all listed by Parenting website in “The 10 most violent video games to avoid.” list. Does playing violent video games increase violence or just make the user numb to it? That is still to be determined.
The positive effects of technology are as endless as imagination. The amazing ability to instantly have knowledge at your fingertips any time of the day or night is one benefit it is hard to imagine being without. Being able to connect with a friend continents away is a wonderful gift that keeps people in touch with each other. But like most things; technology has a negative side like cyber bullying; and the violence in video games open to children a keystroke away. Technology has no doubt changed the world, but the question becomes does the positive outweigh the negative and if so, what should be done about the negative aspects?
Courtney from Study Moose
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