Apps are tools that can have a
transformative effect on our world.
[A quick note: Today marks the 200th consecutive weekly post for my blog. While we have not uncorked any champagne here at world headquarters in Atlantic Beach, Florida, I would like to offer celebratory gratitude. Thank you for your support and comments. Thank you for sharing this with your friends, family and colleagues. Mostly, thank you for the difference you make in your community. Now on to this week’s post and the next 200 weeks!]
Spring Break allowed me to spend a little time digging into The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identify, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.
I am about midway through the book and I would like to pose some intriguing questions that this work has already raised for me. I do not see this (the book or this post) as bashing digital natives, apologizing for digital immigrants, or dismissing technology. Perhaps we would be better served if we stop, think, question assumptions, identify any cognitive traps that may be present, and then continue to use technology to help us as we develop the most fulfilling lives we can. With that in mind, here are few questions to ponder.
- What is the impact that apps (as in smart phone apps) have had on the identity, intimacy and imagination of the younger generation? (By extension, I would ask the same of any generation that is digitally connected.)
- Gardner and Davis’s argument is that apps are tools that can have a transformative effect on our world. So, do we control the apps or do the apps control us?
- Apps have created, among other things, the ability for us to “take care of ordinary stuff and thereby free us to explore new paths, form deeper relationships, ponder the biggest mysteries of life, and forge a unique and meaningful identity.” (9) But have we become more app-dependent than app-enabled? (45)
- Looking into a screen is thought to be less risky than looking into one’s eyes. If we are with someone and the moment turns awkward (read: requires some real communication) it becomes easier if we both just turn to our own respective screens. Consequently, have we become a society that is “always connected, but not always connecting?” (100)
- Gardner and Davis relate a story of parents helping their children smuggle in a 2nd smart phone to summer camp so that they could stay in contact even after their child’s (supposedly only) phone was turned over to camp counselors. What have parents taught their children—and are they (the parents) dependent or enabled…or enabling?
- One person interviewed said that “On Facebook, people are more concerned with making it look like they’re living rather than actually living.” (63) So, for those of us (all ages) posting status updates, are we concerned about reporting the present or living the present?
- We used to have moments to sit alone with our thoughts. Now those moments are cluttered with “compulsory listening to music, text messaging, or playing games on our digital devices.” (75). Where is our reflection time now? Do we know how to reflect? Are we comfortable being alone?
- We can be witty in 140 characters or less but it becomes increasingly difficulty (if not impossible) to “communicate and respond to each other’s complex feelings.” (102) Have apps allowed us to justify a superficial world?
Video recommendation for the week:
I am reminded of a commercial that made the rounds a few years back. It had (basically) one spoken word: Really? It is comical. The App Generation made me resurrect it.
Is there an app for reflecting, connecting, and living?
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.