It has been nine months since COVID-19 shutdowns were first enforced in Ontario. With social-distancing guidelines in place, people are spending more time interacting with technology than with other human beings. This raises the question, has the way we interacted with technology changed?
Several technologies have been created to directly tackle the rapid spread of COVID-19. Ontario Premier Doug Ford along with health professionals strongly urged that people download the Covid Alert app when it was first released towards the end of July. Using Bluetooth technology, people were able to be notified when they were exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. Although the system is not completely fool-proof, people were trying their best to use modern technology to their advantage.
The impact of technology can not be discussed without including social media. On the positive side, reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation have been able to educate large numbers of people on COVID-19. However, because social media provides everyone with a platform, false information can receive just as much, or even more, attention as information that is factual. Conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 have caused many to believe that the pandemic is a hoax. R.H. King Librarian Mr.Wilkinson suggests that oftentimes, fact-checking begins with common sense. “If something doesn’t seem right, you should investigate it. You can actually go and search up (the information you found) on websites like politifact.com or snopes.com and they will tell you where this information originated and what the truth is.”
During a time when it is more difficult to interact with other people, many have turned to gaming and social media as a form of comfort. Games such as Animal Crossing and Among Us have become increasingly popular during the pandemic. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter provide people with a source of entertainment and allows them to keep in touch with their friends and loved ones. King student Samira Goder shares how social media had impacted her during the pandemic saying, “Overall it did provide me with a distraction but it seemed like a double-edged sword. The use of technology was not always the best choice (for me) as it gave me access to the very media I wished to distract myself from…I was able to see the world fall apart.” It is important that teens learn how to use social media, the internet and gaming in a healthy manner. Although these can serve as positive distractions, they can also cause one to feel upset when they are exposed to certain types of content. It is best that people seek comfort in activities outside of their screens. There are so many things to do, call your best friend instead of texting them, pick up a hobby, meditate, stay active, try out a new recipe. Participating in such activities will prove to be a positive experience.
To hold the belief that technology is always either good or bad is to completely miss the point. Technology is a human creation, and so, it is up to us to decide how we will use it. Even though there is so much going on in the world. A person’s mental and physical health should always be their top priority.