Police Psychology: Is Technology Making Us Barefoot, Dumb and Depressed?
by Dr. Gary S. Aumiller
Is technology making us barefoot, dumb and depressed? Now I have warned you before, there is no single answer for causes. And that is assuming people are dumber today than usual, which could be a false assumption (although the argument is looking pretty good with the whole political situation in America).
So, here’s the rub: there was a study that a social psychologist did by placing a cell phone on the table. The mere presence of the phone made the conversation less personal and less complete. Further studies show that if there are seven college kids at a table, only three will be involved in a conversation at any one time. Maybe four. The rest will be on their phones. And finally, studies at Kent State University show for 500 cell phone using kids, at different levels of use, the high frequency cell phone users tended to have a lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers. Let me TEXT that to you while it sinks in.
Now as cops, you will probably add there also is a high level of fender reconstruction, quick braking and brain damage from impact of head-to-windshield. But there were even scarier details in the real studies of the “techno-trapped individuals,” psychologists could tell the ones who were locked into their cell phones either with games, internet, texting or YouTube before even interviewing them, just by a 5-minute observation. Apparently, it changes their behavior to an observable level. Ouch! Add to that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cell phone exposure at the same level as coffee and power lines. (Of course, that hasn’t stopped coffee drinking). So, they are getting “cell phoners” someway, either through low paying jobs from the GPA, severe anxiety, suicide or cancer. Have we heard this before?
In the 30’s and 40’s phonographs were going to ruin the morals of the generation as they played their “swing” music. In the fifties and sixties, parents complained about TV and how sitting too close caused eye damage and cancer. It must have really caused eye damage because those of us who were around in the 50’s and 60’s can’t see so well anymore, especially up-close. Or that might just be aging. In the seventies, it was the music from our 8-tracks and cassette tapes and listening to hard rock that was going to cause us to go deaf. We went back to ruining the morals in the 80’s with the video games like Missile Command, Donkey Kong and Tetris destroying our kids. All they wanted to do was go to arcades and feed quarters into machines. That was as addictive as gambling they said. Game Boys came in the 90’s and that was awful what that did to a generation not listening to their parents and watching a little screen. Then, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Grand Theft Auto destroyed those generations. Now we got cell phones, Minecraft and Roblox. How will we ever survive?
Artificial intelligence, holographic street scenes, and Virtual Reality interaction is probably next. Those will blow you out of the water. Virtual streets with real time updates. Imagine investigating a crime without leaving your detective desk. Taking in a lecture with a mini-professor on your desk. We’ll probably be around to see it.
Simplicity is balance. All life needs a balance. The good news is research shows putting kids in a camping situation, causes them to turn it around. After a couple of days with friends, they don’t crave their cell phones. Older kids can take up to a week. You need some cell phone free days, but there needs to be some tolerance for them during other days. Reaching balance creates a lot of in-fighting between parents, but you need to reach an accord. The best thing is to replace the device with attention or a craft, or for older kids a jobs or videos of something they are interested in. If you’re traveling, a little more cell-phony is tolerated. For certain, no devices before children go to bed. Waking up in a calm state is a different story, but never let the device interfere with the activity of the day getting started. Don’t ever replace a device with Latin or Hebrew lessons. That’s a fight waiting to happen. Or Math, or writing a paper. It can be a reward for the less desired activity, but not a prelude. This is all common sense, but read it again because this is where I find most problems start in a family. Inconsistency with simple rules. Common sense is not so common in application.
So, does the cell phone make you Barefoot, Dumb and Depressed? Well there is some argument for being dumber (lower GPA) and definitely depressed is shown in studies. Teens are prone to periods of depression anyway. High cell phone usage should be curbed, it changes behavior for the worse, but little argument exist for eliminating the cell. Kids have always had something and this is the “something” of the times. As far as “Barefoot” I just threw that in there because it sounded good.
Be safe out there.
Site Administrator: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
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