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Technology Is Barreling Backwards In Time

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

In an increasingly digitized world, it isn’t a stretch to say that we have become more accustomed with and attuned to technology with every generation. Statista, a German company that specializes in market and consumer data, estimated that emerging tech will experience a growth rate of 104% between 2018 and 2023. With more children being given access to personal devices at younger ages, it’s become quite clear that technology has passed the stage of being normalized. Instead, it is integral to our society — so much so that a lack of access to computers poses a setback for many students and workers. 

I remember being in elementary school when the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) waived the requirement of learning cursive in 2010. Needless to say, many schools then removed that style of penmanship from the educational curriculum. While this didn’t exactly signal a shift from analog to digital on its own, I did make that association. When one day, Chromebooks were wheeled into the classrooms instead of whiteboards, the conviction grew stronger.

Warnings about what the Internet contained were loud and varied, and any concerns regarding children seeing unsavory content were generally mitigated with the promise of censorship. Even at home, parental controls and restrictions on content were necessary to appease the ever-growing sentiment of not wanting children to have such early access to technology. 

While the implemented policies were effective to a certain extent, it’s safe to say that censorship is never 100% foolproof. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok are all social media platforms that restrict the age of use for those who are 13 and younger, but the act of clicking a button to verify the year of birth is faulty, to say the least. Lying about age isn’t a new or novel concept, of course. I know plenty of my high school friends who are technically 50 on Facebook right now. 

But I have noticed a dichotomy between ambivalence and wariness toward children younger than 13 being on social media apps. Some users are quick to chastise the violation of rules, while others see it only as a simple formality: one easy to break and even easier to forgive. 

So why was that limitation standardized in the first place, anyway? The cap on age limit has its reasons predicated on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) from 1998. The intentions were to prevent companies from obtaining preadolescents’ personal data that would be used for ad targeting and tracking. 

Ads specifically targeted at the demographic of children are not the main concern, however. Children have always been a viable option for capitalism — think Mozart for Babies and Baby Einstein. Buying a stack of classical music CDs so your baby can develop a taste for intellectual life is a prime example of this. 

It would be more accurate to say that the meat of concern lies in how children are being exposed to the common tactic of lowering self-esteem to promote goods. Among the numerous and diverse tactics to create artificial demand for luxury goods, lowering self-esteem is one surefire way to convince consumers of a necessity, like solving the “issue” of not being attractive. 

After all, fixing something after being made to believe you have a deficiency is easier than convincing people to enhance features that don’t need fixing. If you’re a cut above the rest, why bother? But if you’re lagging behind, preying on vulnerability has never been a concern with capitalist ventures. 

When preadolescents are exposed to such tactics and are monitored to see which ads they linger on the most, what flaws they fixate on, and distorted depictions of perfection, it’s no wonder kids are becoming insecure at earlier ages. So is the integration of technology beginning so early in our childhood simply a symbol of a new age, or an indication of bigger issues at hand? I can’t help but be reminded of “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. After you read it, you may be able to draw some of Bradbury’s concerns to modern times — for better or worse. 

Hello, nice to meet you! I'm a 4th year senior editor. I am a double major in English and Psychology. I greatly enjoy writing, editing, and the works! In my free time I love finding new things to eat from Trader Joe's and playing games :)