Who dares to oppose progress?

by Nicole Duprat, France

Like a Hydra* with a thousand heads and many tentacles, the ultra-connected smartphone invades the space and time of its users by constantly attracting their attention and changing their daily behaviour.
  Permanent loss of concentration and incessant stress, dependencies, destroyed family life, speech disorders, physical isolation, addictions, depression, anxiety, eye fatigue, migraines, insomnia, hearing loss, narcissism, pornography, bullying, threats to personal safety (in the car, on the motorbike, on foot) – these are the harmful impairments (some of them irreversible) and various distortions that are currently being observed.
  Who would dare to oppose progress? Of course, there are some who oppose it, and they are not few! An article in the magazine Le Point (20 September 2014) teaches us better! It is – what a surprise – entitled: “The children of Steve Jobs deprived of Ipad.” Apple’s founder always kept his children away from new technologies, its author reveals. In Silicon Valley, those in charge of tablets, iPhones or video games hardly let their children touch a smartphone; they are encouraged to read books made of paper. We also learn with astonishment that many executives and employees of Google, Yahoo, Apple and eBay, in order to counter the manipulation and misinformation, send their children to Waldorf-, Steiner-, Montessori-schools, whose pedagogy is particularly hostile to technology! And for good reason, the management of these schools does not allow any tablet or smartphone, as these represent a certain danger and a serious obstacle to the development of creativity, concentration and social behaviour of the pupils.
  After all, who would know better than Steve Jobs whether the use of smartphones and tablets is harmful to children? Since many are highly addicted or even enslaved by this “modernity”, this important information should be passed on to many young people and adults.
  One must be able to decide between screen and paper. Numerous studies (University of Pittsburgh, University of Virginia on the site adozen.fr, OECD in an article in “Le Monde” of 25 September 2015) all come to the same conclusion: namely that the performance of students who use smartphones show a 30 % drop in intellectual performance compared to those who do not use them. Let’s not forget that the function of the written word is to fix it in memory. Writing by hand on a blank sheet of paper is an act that activates, develops and strengthens the memory in our brain, whereas typing on a keyboard does not make the neurons work in the same way. When we write, we are guided by our thoughts, and writing follows the rhythm of our thoughts.
  While billions are spent on equipping schools, digital technology seems more likely to fail than to succeed... Taking notes in a course on a keyboard rather than on a piece of paper seems to be an absurdity for a few! For many today, on the other hand, the claim to take notes on a piece of paper instead of on a keyboard is an absurdity.
  Furthermore, the British newspaper “The Guardian” of 25 February 2018 noted that because of smartphones and tablets schoolchildren no longer know how to hold a pen properly. According to paediatricians interviewed by the newspaper, children have insufficient muscle development for writing because of the time they spend in front of screens. “It is easier to give a child an iPad than to encourage him to spend time playing construction games, doing activities like cutting and inserting something, sewing cloths, drawing. So, they don’t develop the basic skills needed to grip and hold a pen,” says paediatrician Sally Payne, senior occupational therapist at the Heart of England NHS Trust.
  In an interesting pedagogical approach Eliane Perret’s article in Current Concerns No. 24 of 10 November 2020 invites young people and adults to resist this modern grip!
  Man is the master of the machine, not the machine must dominate man. We must never lose sight of the priority of the human being over the technological dimension. In the consumer frenzy of a society geared towards high-tech, digital sobriety is an advantage to be acquired!
  Regulation and the right to switch off must be used to counteract the perverse effects of digital technology. Living with the tools of our time does not mean getting lost in the hectiness and torment of progress. •



* The Hydra of Lerna was a sea monster with multiple heads that regenerated twice when cut off and emitted a dangerous poison even when asleep. The hero of Greek mythology, Hercules, killed it by cutting off its main head with the help of a golden snake (this is the second of Hercules’ twelve labours).

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