Monday, April 18, 2011

Is technology really a distraction?

With the release of tablets and modern gaming technology, people have started to conclude that modern technology is a “distraction.” That logic has to be questioned. I believe that technology itself is not a distraction, but rather how the technology is used, that may be the distraction. People still tend to ignore that technology alone is not good or bad, and they blame technology in general for “ruining their productivity” or “forcing people to lose focus.” I hear complaints about technology and computing a lot. Believe it or not, it’s not just parents who complain about technology. Now in the technology world, people are arguing amongst each other that PCs are legitimate and the newer methods, such as tablets or smartphones, are distracting from important tasks. Just as people worried that computers were going to distract from reading and writing, now people are worried that tablets and smartphones will displace the old methods and become a distraction to real computing.

I’m trying to beat the stereotype because this attitude could potentially ruin innovation in a currently innovative industry such as digital technology. Remember what I said in the last paragraph. Technology itself isn’t a distraction, but the utilization of the technology that could be a distraction. Take the new Android tablets, or the iPad for instance. These tablets themselves were not designed to limit productivity, but rather make certain tasks easier, or in some cases, more enjoyable to do. Although tablets seem to be a great toy for people of all ages, and yes, tablets are mostly useful for games, there are still a few productive uses for tablets and smartphones, whereas a traditional desktop or laptop PC wouldn’t be a perfect solution for the task. Sure, tablets have very few productive uses, but those few still count in my mind. So to say that a tablet is only good for gaming is disingenuous. Digital technology has the ability to offer multiple use scenarios for products and serves many of those purposes quite well.

This is not the first time in history, when people have had concern about newer technologies. Remember when PC gaming began? When gaming finally took off and started consuming some of the gaming market a few years ago, people started to stereotype PCs because PC gaming was the new “trend.” They thought if you gave a child or a teenager a brand new PC a few years ago, the PC was going to be used mostly for amusement. And of course, everyone tried to assure you that the PC was almost strictly for “homework” and “schoolwork.” Unfortunately, that stereotype might’ve been true for most children or teenagers at that period in time, but it still would’ve been used for some work.

If you were to apply that stereotype to tablets and smartphones today, then the same outcome would occur. It all comes back to this statement. It simply depends on the person. If the person is serious about productivity, then technology, especially tablets and smartphones, could make a big difference. But if the person was simply looking for an excuse to buy a tablet, then that tablet would be a distraction to them. I think that technology is unfairly judged. If all someone hears about is gaming, then they’re going to assume that technology was pretty much exclusively used as a “productivity killer.” So in order to eliminate these unfair accusations and assumptions about certain digital technologies, people need to own responsibility for their productivity. They’re blaming technology unfairly because they don’t have self-control to stay focused on the important task. Thus, technology itself is not a distraction. Thank you very much!

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