#SaveJosh: Excessive Computer Use and the Family Saving Solution by Blake Buchanan, Ashley Halverson, Austin Jelitto, Gemma Koontz, Natalie Miller
The stork dropped Blake Buchanan off in Ogden, UT, where Blake joined the Buchanans as the youngest, and favorite, brother. His family now lives in South Weber, UT, because they wanted to “get away from it all.” As a Mechanical Engineering Major, Blake uses the computer a lot for homework, but most of the time he just watches Netflix. Buchanan’s biggest pet peeve is when girls are wearing yoga pants but not doing yoga. This is in part because it’s impossible to know if they were just at yoga class or on their way there. Being a tall man, Blake sympathizes with giraffes, which are his favorite animal.
Ashley Halverson made her entrance into the world in Ansbach, Germany. As part of an Army family, Ashley lived in a many different, mystical lands. The Halversons currently call Fort Rucker, AL, home. Scott Halverson, Ashley’s dad, is the Inspector General for the NATO Forces in Afghanistan at this time. Presently, she is a sophomore majoring in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Ashley’s biggest pet peeve is bad smells, which somewhat contradicts her love for caribou. Ashley sort of enjoys using her computer time to watch Netflix, do research, watch funny cat videos, and write many, many essays.
Austin Jelitto was birthed in West Point, GA; but that didn’t stop his family from moving to Centerville, UT, where they now reside. Austin is majoring in Engineering but is open-minded and willing to look into other fields of study. Dragons are reportedly his favorite animal. High on Austin’s pet peeve list is the NASCAR off-season. Austin is moderately computer literate and uses them sparingly, mostly for homework and sports updates.
Natalie Miller hales from Lindon, Utah which is merely a stone’s throw from her birthplace of Orem, UT. Because of her decision to major in Human Movement Science, with an emphasis in Exercise science, she chose the Snow Leopard as her favorite animal due to its strength and ability to camoflauge itself in the snow. Like most people, one of Natalie’s pet peeves is when those around her “hint” at things and don’t speak their minds. Ironically, we’re not sure what she meant by that. In regards to computers, Natalie gets sick of them very quickly, but sometimes she doesn’t have a choice but to use them to do her homework. At the end of the day, when the dust settles and the leaves have fallen, Natalie wants all of her fans to know that she puts her right shoe on first every day.
Gemma Koontz may be best known for being the heart and spunk of Menden, UT, where her family currently lives, but she was actually born in Rapid City, South Dakota. Koontz has lived all over everywhere while being raised in an Air Force family. Her father, a security forces specialist, works for the Pentagon. You would never guess it from looking at her, but Gemma really dislikes it when people talk to her while she is reading. Not counting horses, owls are Gemma’s most preferred animals. Gemma is currently studying History at Utah State University. She is following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, who were also Aggies.
As technological advancements are made, we, as a civilization, embrace new and exciting opportunities. Readily available information allows for strides in societal evolution. However, each story contains two sides. As computers become standard in each household, the family
faces different challenges and negative implications arise. To evaluate the effects of these complications, as well as address the benefits, we have chosen a traditional family as our audience; the Halverson family.
At the heart of most families lies a love story, and the Halverson family is no exception. Karyn Halverson, maiden name Esplin, grew up in modest circumstances as the daughter of an Idaho potato farmer. Her family moved around the gem state quite a bit while she was young, but she eventually chose to leave Idaho and attend college at Utah State University. Karyn held a position as a dispatcher for the college’s police department. There she met her future husband, Scott Halverson, who worked as a security guard and was enrolled in the university’s Army ROTC. After a short courtship the two were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple and Karyn became an Army wife. Military service carried the Halverson family all over the country and abroad. While living in Germany, Karyn gave birth to their first daughter, Ashley Coral. In North Carolina, Joshua Trent, their first son, was born, two years younger than his sister. Four years later in Arizona Taylor Anne came into the world, completing the family. Karyn and her husband raised the children to have traditional values, a love for their country, strong religious
convictions and great respect for their fellow men. Love and laughter flourished in their home, no matter how often the location changed. As Karyn loves to say, “Home is where the Army sends us.”
Growing up without the modern conveniences of technology that they now enjoy, Scott and Karyn continue to learn what role these inventions play in their family. Colonel Scott Halverson has been deployed all over the world. This means the Halversons endure months at a time without being physically together. Because of recent advances, the family is able to use technology to close the emotional distance between them. Karyn spends a few minutes every night on “Facetime” with her husband. She owns an iPhone and hosts a very successful Facebook page. Fostering relationships is not the only result of technology in the Halverson home, however. Computer use became a topic of tension within the last year, as 17-year-old Joshua’s grades began to slip because of too much time spent in front of the monitor. Although she finds satisfaction and joy in technology, Karyn feels anxious about finding a solution to the negative effects of its overuse on her family. As an audience, she welcomes an increased understanding of the effects of computer use and how best to help her children succeed. Joshua possesses an equally receptive attitude to learning more about the implications of his minor addiction. He recognizes that he spends more time than necessary in cyber-space and would be more efficient if he limited his usage.
As a college graduate and third-grade teacher at Fort Rucker Elementary School, Karyn is very intelligent woman. Due to his advanced placement, Joshua attends college courses through his High School. The intellectual capacity of these two main sources, as our audience, allow us to use dignified and scientific language.
As technology evolves and the availability of electronic resources increases, worldwide usage of computers grows as well, specifically within the home. American teenagers and young adults are deeply affected by this growth. Videogames, social media, online homework programs, and many other such activities have sucked these generations in, distracting them from the world that exists beyond their glowing screens. The time spent on computers has many effects, both positive and negative, on the cognitive, social, and physical abilities of an individual.
It is believed that computer usage can improve multitasking skills, decision-making, critical thinking, language development, and math skills, depending on the mode in which the computer is used. For instance, studies indicate that the imagery and movement in certain action games can “provide them [children] with ‘training wheels’ for computer literacy” (Princeton University). This means that the skills that the games teach to children will be helpful to them later in life when they use computers in a workplace atmosphere. However, the use of computers may also be detrimental to the cognitive development of the teenage/young adult mind. As a result of the violent nature of many videogames, it has been suggested that videogames may make users more aggressive outside of the games. In a study on this topic, researchers discovered that high school students that played violent videogames were much more likely to lose self- control and to become aggressive (Whiteman). This worrisome discovery shows that computer usage in teenagers/young adults can truly cause serious flaws in cognitive abilities.
Time spent on a computer also has huge effects on the social capabilities of teenagers and young adults. Social media is huge in today’s society. Through pictures, links, statuses, and games, individuals can connect with one another in spite of any distance between their devices. Nevertheless, this connection is superficial; all that one sees is what shows up on the monitor. By wasting time on computers, teenagers/young adults miss out on real-world social interaction. Rather than getting out and meeting people at public events, people often choose instead to stay home and watch the world go by from the comfort of their electronics. Smartphones, which are essentially portable computers, make it even easier to miss out on the experiences that life has to offer. Instead of communicating in social situations, teens and young adults tend to fiddle with their devices, rather than attempt to start conversations with new people. Though humans are more connected than ever before because of advances in technology, they are also much more alone as people choose to view the world through digitized windows.
Physical health is also largely impacted by the time that teenagers and young adults spend on the computer. It is common knowledge that obesity is prominent in American life. Having computers in the home influences individuals to choose the internet and other components of computer capabilities over other more active undertakings. Many teenagers and young adults would prefer to stay in and scroll through Facebook and/or Instagram than go out to the gym or just to enjoy nature. This stationary behavior can lead to obesity, which can then cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and various other serious health concerns. Prolonged exposure to computer screens also has very negative impacts on an individual’s eyesight. Straining one’s eyes to see a computer screen, rather than adjusting for comfort, can eventually lead to a need for glasses or other forms of vision correction, which can be a very costly issue. Musculoskeletal problems can also be caused by extended amounts of computer time, as most
people do not practice proper posture while using computers in the home. These issues, along with many others, pose a high risk of poor health to those who devote too much time to electronic devices.
Appropriate time constraints must be placed on computer use in the home in order to counteract the adverse social, cognitive, and physical repercussions that occur as a result of spending excessive time immersed in technology (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). But how should a family go about setting such limitations in a world that has become so dependent on computers? We have come to believe that this dependency may actually be the key to creating balance between personal computer usage and family life.
Parents in contemporary society often pay their children varied amounts of money to do their chores. However, this often causes those pre-adolescents to grow up believing that they are entitled to compensation for things that they should be doing without monetary motivation. This sense of entitlement is a plague within the recent generations, increasing the desire for instant gratification and decreasing ambition. We have discovered a method which could motivate teens to do chores, finish homework, and accomplish other worthwhile goals in addition to limiting the time that they spend on the computer.
Parents are able to access the security components of a Wi-Fi router and adjust them as needed fairly easily (Mitchell). A parent could utilize this ability in order to improve the lives of their loved ones. We suggest that parents change the Wi-Fi access codes each day, then use the password to encourage their children to be productive throughout the day. In Megan Garber’s article, “Sorry Kids, Want Today’s Wifi Password? Do Your Chores,” there is an image of a handwritten list of chores that a parent has compiled for her children to complete before they will be allowed to access the internet. By doing this, parents teach their children about time management and responsibility. They learn that hard work and sacrifice is required before fun times can be had. It is “a set of rules that treat Internet access as carrot and stick rolled into one” meaning that it is both a reward and a possible punishment (Garber). If the teen completes the assigned tasks, he or she will be rewarded with the password. However, if he or she were to fail
to complete that day’s tasks, then the consequences would be his or hers alone.
So what makes this so different from rewarding teens with cash for chores? Rather than paying them for a task that they should have already done, this makes the reward a privilege to earn instead of a right that is inherently held (Children Addicted). The internet is highly motivational as well; teens desire to check on their social media networks, play games, and be entertained by all that the World Wide Web has to offer (Jelitto). Knowing that the sooner they complete their assignments, the sooner they will be able to access said resources, is most likely enough to persuade them to accomplish their goals successfully.
We also suggest that, once a teen has received the Wi-Fi password, that a limit of two to three hours of internet time be set (Children Addicted, Ghose). Any length of time beyond that amount is excessive and may cause damage to the still-developing physical, cognitive, and social capabilities of a young adult (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). A timer of some sort, whether it be a simple kitchen timer or an application on a cell phone, would be more than helpful in this endeavor, as it would emit an audible and unnegotiable signal to end the teen’s computer time (Matte). Having the computer in a public place would also make the monitoring
of internet usage simpler and less stressful for all those involved (Children Addicted). This will also prevent pre-adolescents from accessing sites and pages that the parents may deem inappropriate for viewing.
These restrictions are particularly apt to reduce the risk of adverse effects upon teens and young adults, as well as to improve the atmosphere within the home (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). As chores are completed, homework is finished, and internet usage is wrapped up at a reasonable time, families will have the opportunity to use the time that is left over to bond with one another and grow as a family unit. Time together is priceless and will infinitely benefit those who value its importance and seek it often. By applying a system of time constraints on computers, negative consequences will be avoided and the benefits will flourish.
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