We often think about the impact of technology and increased screen time on the individual, but what about communities? Of course physical devices separate us physically, and this excerpt from Kaitlin Ugolick Phillips‘ The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World asserts that they’re actually harming children’s ability to talk to one another. Let’s make staying connected – in all ways – a top priority.
We obviously don’t have self-reported empathy scores from everyone who regularly uses social or immersive technology, but it’s hard to deny that there are few better places to see ‘need for approval‘ on display than the platforms that keep people coming back for more ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’ This is the trait that products like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are built to exploit; every little notification and validation is like a small neurological treat, literally releasing dopamine, the ‘reward’ chemical. Social technology is ostensibly about connecting people, but it doesn’t often foster the empathy that’s needed for real human connection. This problem is hard to quantify, but it’s showing up in homes, offices, and classrooms around the country.
ostensibly about connecting people, but it doesn’t often foster the empathy that’s needed for real human connection
Every fifth-grader in Morgan Stumbras’s Chicago classroom in 2017 had a cell phone. Actually, many of them had more than one. The devices were disruptive – especially when students used an app called Musical.ly, which allowed them to create and share short music videos starring themselves. “The bane of my existence,” Stumbras told me. But it was something else that really bothered her: even though they were constantly sending messages back and forth, none of these kids seemed to know how to talk to one another.