An investigative documentary looking at what is at stake for today’s teenagers as tech impacts their lives and futures through its addictive design, the threat to their mental health and how the effects of loss of agency and privacy could undermine our very humanity.
This short video gives a taster of the themes that will be covered in the documentary.
Have we unwittingly created a monster? In the 90’s the internet felt like an exciting new democratising and freeing force, but fast forward just twenty years and we are all tethered to our devices. We see it as a positive that we can do everything on this one small object we carry in our pockets and we wouldn’t give it up if you paid us handsomely to do so. But at what cost to society, and what is it doing to our teens?
Adolescence is a fascinating period of life we all go through to become independent adults. How is tech changing the behaviour and the neural networks of teens? Will these changes help them to live in an increasingly fast-paced connected world, or are they losing life skills we value?
Tech companies need to keep us hooked to feed their business models with our clicks, swipes and likes. Designers know how to hijack neurological processes and it is in adolescence that we are most susceptible to addiction. The statistics are showing levels of anxiety, depression and suicide skyrocketing in teens. Are we placing unbearable levels of pressure on them by putting social media in their pockets 24-7?
Teens constantly engage in high speed comparisons with social media, but what they are seeing is rarely a true reflection of reality. What is this doing to their self-esteem? And with screens impacting how much sleep they are getting what will the mental and physical health outcomes be if we bring up an entire generation on too little sleep?
What is the impact of tech on human relationships? Is the way teens communicate these days just poorly understood by adults or is there more at stake? For teens a full stop at the end of a text message signifies anger, the number of x’s they type holds meaning. What is it like to have to navigate this world of sub-text?
Are the algorithms running our tech a good or bad force? To what extent do we want algorithms making decisions for us and are we conceding control to a completely unaccountable force? As we rely more on machines will we just get dumber?
With the rise of fake news and the echo chamber culture, being able to think critically has become even more important, but are the constant distractions taking away teen’s ability to focus their attention and think deeply?
Most teenagers don’t care about sharing their data with the big tech companies, but when we are in a state of constant surveillance our behaviour changes. To think, reason, and speak without the judgemental eyes of others is what drives creativity, exploration and dissidence. Without dissenters those in power become more powerful and the essence of human freedom is crippled. By passively giving away our right to privacy in a trade off for free apps and convenience, are we sending today’s teens into a dystopian future?
We can’t know for sure what the future will look like, but we do know the world is changing fast. Very fast. It is critical that we ask questions now about the role we want tech to play in our lives and make conscious decisions about how we integrate it into our lives, and in the lives of our children.