No. 697



When you say the word “technology” to one person it means one thing, but when you say it to someone else it may mean something entirely different. This is because the word “technology” is often used as the generic term to encompass all the technologies people develop and use in their lives. The United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines the word technology as, “the know-how and creative processes that may assist people to utilize tools, resources and systems to solve problems and to enhance control over the natural and man-made environment in an endeavor to improve the human condition.
“Thus, technology in this statement involves the purposeful application of knowledge, experience and resources to create processes and products that meet human needs. The needs and wants of people in particular communities determine the technology that is developed and how it is applied. People judge the desirability of technological applications by their impact on health, personal well-being and lifestyle, economics and ecosystems.” Now I will go along with that up to a point, but technology is now determined by a worldwide market place and not just in a particular community.
From a practical standpoint, I don’t know how many times I have said, “Technology is wonderful,” especially after some personal application, such as the computer, telephone, Internet, and countless others have saved me tons of time and money. We all like that aspect of technology, and we should. Here I am reminded of the story of a man visiting a farmer, and the farmer’s telephone started to ring. After about 10 rings the visitor said, “Aren’t you going to answer that phone?” The farmer said, “No, I had that thing installed for my convenience.” Not always smart, but it did make a point. Like most things, technology can be both good and bad, depending on how it is used. We don’t drive our car around the same block for 10 hours.
In these tough economic times, here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes. When it comes to technology, should we stop from time to time and compare the costs versus the benefits? This question is based on some concerns that I have that you may or may not share. Here is another question that deserves an answer. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I say the answer is “yes,” especially when we come to the area of electronics. A good example is cell phones. Some states have passed laws that drivers cannot use a cell phone or text message while driving a car. I know of at least one school that has banned cell phones because students were text messaging each other during class.
Here is my greatest concern. The advertisers of cell phones and video games (some consoles cost from $50 to $600) are targeting young kids with their products and many parents are buying them. Just read the “letters to Santa” in your local newspaper this coming Christmas and you will see what I mean. When a child from 4 to 12 years of age spends all or most of their time talking on a cell phone or playing video games, they are not learning to read, or develop language and communication skills, tools they will need for the rest of their lives.
Parents control this, and reaching them with this message, even though some parents may disagree, is my primary purpose in sharing this. Just remember where and when you heard it. Unless this trend is reversed, in the next few years I believe we are going to have the greatest educational crisis of all time. Here is a case of where I hope I am wrong.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)