Back to Brick (Part 2)

December 26, 2013 2:45 PM

Rachel Loveday’s Back to Brick feature explores technology dependence and addiction in the 21st century through the perspectives of six people of four different age groups. In Part 1, her parents’ perspectives were explored. In Part 2, the perspectives of two fellow university students and fellow residents of the university accommodation she lived at, will be explored. 


Joshua and Sarah, fellow residents at my university accommodation, both 20.

Joshua and Sarah, like the majority of other young people of my generation own iPhone 5’s, Joshua told me he lost his and is using one of Sarah’s old iPhones until he replaces his. I do see Joshua and Sarah, as well as the other residents at our university accommodation constantly using their iPhones, they don’t seem to be anywhere without them. Both of them told me that they use their iPhones to fulfill their social networking needs on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Despite the fact that Joshua and Sarah are only three years younger than me, they seem far technologically advanced then I am, especially since their relationship with technology started earlier than mine did. Both of them got their first phone before the age of thirteen, however their first mobile phones were just for emergencies.

“I had a mobile phone in year four. My brother got a new phone and my parents gave me his old one. My dad works for QANTAS so he wasn’t home much and my mum also works full-time so they got me the phone so I could text her to contact her rather than call her at work. And I also liked to play Snake…best game ever!” Sarah said.

“I got my first phone when I was in year six in 2005, for my birthday. I just had it in case of emergencies, I didn’t use it much, but once I got into high school, I started using it more, eventually every day.” Joshua said.

Even though Joshua’s and Sarah’s relationships with their mobile phones were simple at first, they eventually progressed, especially with the invention and launch of the iPhone in 2007.

“I had an iPhone by the time I was in year 10 (2009). Since then, I’ve had an iPhone 3, iPhone 3s, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 has a better quality camera, it is faster and the battery power lasts longer. I wouldn’t know how to use an iPhone 3 now, because it’s too slow, I can tell the difference.”

“I’m an Apple lover, an iPhone girl. I hate being without my phone, I can’t stand it if my phone dies. I use it all day.”

Sarah also told me during our interview that she feels addicted to technology, yet doesn’t actually feel that she’s dependent on it.

“If I’m not on my phone, I’m on my computer, sometimes both at the same time. I text when I’m at work too, it’s bad. I don’t think I’m dependent on technology, I don’t need it, I just want it.”

Sarah’s self confessed addiction to technology shows during our interview—she is texting the whole time and surrounded by five friends, Joshua included, who are sitting together all using their laptops. Sarah’s iPhone goes off with mysterious messages of some sort during our interview, I hear the ding of the iPhone when I listen to my recording and transcribe the interview. Sarah comments on my flip phone, she calls it a “non tech-savvy phone”. She asked me if I’m on a plan that includes data, I tell her that my phone is pre-paid and I can access the internet, but I choose not to.

Joshua, on the other hand doesn’t label himself as addicted to technology, although he does feel dependent on it for socialising, he does feel the need for his technological devices and tells me that he can’t go half-an-hour without using his iPhone.

“I can’t, not use my iPhone, I can’t go for more than twenty minutes without using it. Even at work or on the toilet I’ll use it, I’m not kidding. I feel like I need technology around me, when I lost my phone for a week, I took my laptop wherever I went and I used other people’s phones to check my Facebook page, I couldn’t, not be on something.

“I am dependent on my phone because I need to be connected with people. Even if we didn’t have this technology, I would still be calling people on a landline phone. People would still be doing the same thing, now they’re just doing it online.”

When I ask Joshua and Sarah what technological devices they remember in their homes as children, I’m shock to find out that video games and computers were present in their homes when they were as young as 10 years old. I’m shocked, not in judgement, but due to the fact that they seemed young at the time. Although from memory, I’m pretty sure that the first computer in my home arrived when I was about seven or eight, but the difference is from what they told me, is that they had their own individual video game consoles and computers at that age. Even though they are in the same generation as me, there clearly is a generation gap within my generation, what a difference a three year gap makes.

“I got my first computer in year one (2000), it was mine but it was also used as a family computer because I was too young. I had a Nintendo 64, that was my first video game console and that was before 1999 and there’s always been video game consoles and computers in the house since then.” Joshua said.

Joshua then goes on to list the amount of technological devices in his home today—computers, laptops, mobile phones and video game consoles. The total number is about 16, this doesn’t surprise him. Sarah on the other hand is surprised, after she informs me that she had a computer in her room since the age of 10, she lists the amount of devices now in her own home. The total number is 17, over four times the amount of people in her family. The irony of this is, when I mention to Sarah that children as young as four are being treated for iPad addiction, she believes that technology shouldn’t be made available to young children, despite the age she was when she first came across technology herself.

“Kids should go outside and play in trees, not with an iPad. I don’t even have an iPad. Technology steals your soul, you shouldn’t give it to them at a young age. Kids are indoors these days, they’re not out getting bruised knees and cuts. That’s what I appreciated most about my childhood.”

Despite this generation gap that both Sarah and I feel between the way we used and had access to technology when we were children and the way that younger children now use and have access to technology, the generation gap goes in the other direction too. Both Joshua and Sarah wonder how previous generations got by without the technology that they have easy access to now.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that technology is vital for education. I can’t imagine studying commerce thirty years ago, without the technology. With the internet, it’s easier to learn, there are a vast amount of resources that otherwise wouldn’t be readily available. It saves time and money.” Joshua said.

“I don’t know how people use to do things in the old days. Did they walk thousands of kilometres to find a phone if they were stuck on the highway? I’ve grown up with it so I’m use to it, but technology would be different for my parents because they didn’t grow up with this technology.” Sarah said.

I wonder how different it’s going to be for us in thirty years?