Friday, October 12, 2007

Technology and Society, pt. 1

"She's so young with so much pain/there's so many things Shante wishes she can change/
So what she does is spend hours of the day/meeting new friends in her own little place/
Just today she counted and 300 friends/most of them young, but yet some were older men/
But it's ok/Shante says that's safe/her own little place to get away, her myspace"

"Myspace" off of the album, "Our World Fallen"

Peace and blessings,

I was in class a few weeks back and came across a very interesting article. The article explored the potential causes for adolescents choosing to participate in risky health behaviors, such as substance use, sex, and so forth. The author, Laurence Steinberg (2007) presents a neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk taking, which argues that choosing to engage in risky behavior is largely depends on which networks in your brain are more salient during a given period in your lifetime. In other words, the argument is that there are times in our lifetime when the socioemotional network (SEN) in our brains, which operate primarily on emotion, arousal, and impulse, is more salient than the cognitive control network (CCN), which primarily deals with thinking things through, weighing the costs of our decisions, and thus regulating our behavior. This is what is believed to being going on in adolescence (Steinberg, 2007). One of the findings which supports this perspective is that in general, antisocial peer pressure is most very influential in pre-adolescence and mid-adolescence (i.e. around puberty), where the gap between the SEN and CCN is the largest, in favor of the SEN. Therefore, because peer pressure can appeal to one's emotional arousal (i.e. a person getting "hyped" up when your peers are encouraging him or her to do something), it's no surpsrise that many of the risk behaviors adolescents engage in are also often shared by their peers. As people move into late adolescence and adulthood, the CCN becomes more and salient, helping one to make decisions that take the costs of one's behaviors into consideration (via logic, reasoning, reflection, ect...) (2004, cited in Steinberg, 2007). The implication from this article is that because since the mere presence of peers provides rewards (e.g. encouragement, arousal, approval) for one's behavior, then this social influence will be more important in an adolescent's decision to engage in risky behaviors than any other rewards the adolescent would factor into their decision when alone (Steinberg, 2007).

Given that I am in the social sciences (education and human development), this article was of great interest to me because it presented a perspective on pre-adolescent and adolecent behavior that I have not been exposed to. What really interested me as a developmentalist is the idea that during adolescence, whether or not adolescents are making decisions in a solitary context (i.e. alone) or social context (i.e. in the presence of peers) can have a profound impact on the decisions adolescents will generally make. With the advancements in technology and the mass incorporation of these advancements into just about every aspect of many societies, it seems like the distinction between the solitary and the social has been blurred. For instance, with the development of the internet, and most recently Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube (just to name a few), one can be in a solitary context (e.g. in one's room by oneself), while at the same time communicating and participating within a social context via the internet (e.g. video chatrooms, being apart of various Myspace and Facebook networks and groups, etc...). This idea of simultaneously being in a solitary and social context makes this issue of technology and society an issue of great importance. As an avid internet user, I personally do not have an issue with things such as Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, because I use all three. However, I wonder about what having this kind of social access does for younger children and adolescents, especially when they are being exposed (via observing the behavior of others, the TV, etc...) to certain themes, images, and behaviors at a younger age. I know what my mentality was during pre- and mid-adolescence, and let's just say that my having access to these social mediums back then would have been "all bad." Like with anything else, I think that these technological advancements can be beneficial in may ways. However, if not used properly and if unchecked, these mediums can be detrimental as well. Everytime I sign on to my Myspace page i'm presented with images and adds that I don't need to see. And i'm just signing on to check my messages! As more people are becoming connected through these mediums, it is important that we are conscious or and careful of how we use them, and especially how the youth are using them (or whether or not they should be using them at all). Most importantly, we must stay prayed up that God gives us discernment as to how to use these mediums to further our relationship with him and for the betterment of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially for the youth. If not, then we must ask ourselves: Are these technological advancements really "advancing" our society?

Below are a couple of articles I came across related to this issue. Also below, is a live performance and audio track of the song "Myspace" by Flame, who addresses the Myspace phenonemon. What do you think? Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

  • A teen who made a fake ASA Coon page on myspace

  • 2)
  • Schools and libraries respond to the Myspace phenomenon

  • *Steinberg, L. (2007). Risk taking in adolescence: new perspectives from brain and behavioral science, CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, 55-59


    Anonymous said...

    I agree with your post. It is true that we do have to be very careful in the way we use these technology mediums; not only can they become addictive, but the enemy can use them against people. (i.e. Little girls meeting grown men online).

    In terms of myspace, facebook, and youtube, even though they are very useful in terms of communication, connecting with long time friends, pubbing about an event, i feel as though our use of them should be limited on a weekly basis. And I will trying to do that now, but it is going to be very hard. lol

    And like you said, we should ask God how to use technology to further our relationship with him, because in the end, it was God who gave men and women the brains to be able to create technology in the first place. So, it only makes sense for us to use the gift that God has given us to glorify him and make us closer to him, instead of pushing us further away from him.

    -Young Tem

    Thoughtz said...

    I feel you Young Tem. You really going to be on that "weekly basis" steez, lol?