Friday, January 12, 2018

Don't Read This!

If you are reading this post on your phone, stop. Now. Put the phone down. Walk away. I do not want to get mixed up in any of this.
"This" is the controversy currently being stirred by some of Apple's shareholders about the potential hazardous side effects from excessive technology use. In a letter to Apple, representatives from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the investment firm Jana Partners LLC urged the tech giant to address the “growing body of evidence” that suggests frequent digital-device use can have “unintentional negative consequences” for children and teens. 
If you are still reading this on your phone, don't say I didn't warn you.
So just what sort of unintentional negative consequences does the letter suggest might await our young tech abusers? Demonic possession? Unwanted hair growth? Pixelation? Nothing quite so entertaining or dubious. The folks at Jana cite studies suggesting that children who often use smartphones or other digital devices are more likely to be distracted at school, develop depression and sleep less.
If you are still reading this on your phone and feel distracted, depressed or drowsy, you have been warned.
The cynical response to this letter would be something along the lines of, "Sounds like you're describing every teenager on the planet." Stepping away from that less than helpful response for a moment, I find it ironic that all this access to technology hasn't brought all of us closer as a species. The ability to communicate with friends and loved ones would initially seem to be a boon to the mental health of a generation raised with screens. Unless those screens overwhelm and replace flesh and blood contact with others. Access to cat videos is another benefit that comes along with access to the complete works of William Shakespeare. Which one are you going to pick if you're feeling a little tired or anti-social?
If you have read this far on your phone, I cannot be held responsible for your unwillingness to fight the urge to continue. Just think about it, okay? And to the folks at Apple and those making phones and devices to help us, how about you make the "off" button a little easier to find?

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