An Oxford University study shows, for the umpteenth time, that new technology does not cause terrible effects on people, and instead that we use it and adapt to it: there is no significant correlation between the amount of time teenagers spend using their smartphones and an increase in mental problems or disorders. All those parents who, worried by an alarmist media, believe that there was something wrong with their children can relax.
Quite simply, there is no connection between social network use and mental disorders. When a study carried out on a huge sample of 430,000 US and British teenagers is unable to find any such link, it’s because there isn’t one, just as there wasn’t one between the use of books, newspapers, magazines, television or portable radios. Technologies develop, become popular, we use them, we adapt to them, and that’s it. There will always be hysterics who try to attribute dangerous side effects to every new technology that comes along, but as history shows, we just adapt and carry on, as we have since the dawn of time, which is why we have taken control of the planet, the side effects of which have been disastrous.
The smartphone appeared in 2007, and quickly became the way we access all kinds of information. Immediately, many people set out to find a link with all kinds of disorders, from attention deficit to eyesight problems, depression, obesity, sleep disorders, obsessions of all kinds and even suicides. I have talked to supposedly intelligent people who claim that creepypasta hoaxes like the Blue Whale Challenge or Momo were true and that countless children had supposedly died. And even now, long after those hoaxes have been globally exposed, I’m sure that those who defended them still believe them, deep down, and fail to recognize that by demonizing smartphones is merely the latest technological scapegoating.
Sadly, we have seen this down the ages with each new technological development: trains damage our internal organs, headphones cause deafness sending texts results in illiteracy, and watching video games turns our children into violent psychopaths. These are simply the folk tales of the digital age. But let’s not worry: there will always be an expert willing, in return for a minute of fame on television, to trot out scare stories, confident that, when the science once again proves them wrong, we will have forgotten about them and their crackpot theories.
In short, can we use a little common sense, please? If your children are glued to their smartphone 24/7 and do not get enough exercise or sleep, they aren’t addicted or disturbed: you simply haven’t brought them up properly. Teaching them how to get the most from technology is time consuming, but someone has to do it (nobody said it would be easy!). But, pretty please, stop using the easy way out of blaming technology.
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