Wi-fi Zombies

By GEORGIA I. SALVARYN

Staff Writer

Technology and social media is slowly diminishing interpersonal communication. Nowadays, almost everyone, young and old, is connected to the internet through some device and that can create a problem.

According to the Teens, Social Media, & Technology Overview 2015 article by the Pew Research Center on pewinternet.org, 24 percent of teens go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones.

The article also states that 92 percent of teens report going online daily, including the 24 percent of teens who say they go online “almost constantly.”

There are more and more people staring at their phone screens rather than paying attention to and interacting with others around them. This loss of face to face communication can lead to social anxiety and awkwardness in generations now and generations to come.

The Pew Research Center states that 71 percent of American teenagers between ages 13 to 17 use more than one social network site. About 56 percent of these teens go online several times a day, and 12 percent report once-a-day use. Just 6 percent of teens report going online weekly, and 2 percent go online less often.

To gather some insight and information, I asked retired Sociology CCC professor Frank Phillips III a few questions about social interaction and the affects of technology and social media.

Q: Do you believe technology will increase social anxiety and awkwardness over time?

A: “Without a doubt I think there will be a degree of anxiety over time,” Phillips stated. “The quality of social interaction has to be somewhat diminished when you are not face to face with the person you are engaging with.”

Phillips also commented on how interacting with other people makes a person who they are; “If we didn’t need other people, they wouldn’t be on Earth,” he laughed. “People tend to make us human. In reality, people make you sane.”

Q: Do you know the movie Wall-E? Do you believe society will transform into “technology zombies” in the distant future?

A: “I will always argue that change is always inevitable, but everything comes in a cycle.” Phillips adds that being a human being means to be a social animal; we need social interaction.

Q: Why are people so attached to their technology and social media?

A: Technology is a generational thing. Those who are accustomed to [technology] are the generations who grew up with technology. Technology allows people to have more access to information and will change us more because with the help of technology and social media, we can reach over distances and interact with others around the world.

Q: How does social media affect our self-esteem, health, and social skills?

A: Media allows us to set an agenda and a trend. Dominant groups have the tendency to want to maintain a status that puts them in an advantage. Therefore, dominant groups influence those who follow them.

Technology and social media can be helpful and harmful, depending on how often it’s used and how individual people use it, but technology overall is dominating interpersonal communication. We have become “wi-fi zombies.”

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Smartphones: Too little, too much

By: Sarah Galzerano

Children and smartphones are two things we see attached to each other, it seems like everywhere we go. Why should this bother me? Heck, I’m still a kid myself. It’s just annoying when I see kids with an unhealthy obsession for technology that, in my opinion, they shouldn’t have. It wasn’t until recently that I learned how many negative effects that too much screen-time can have on a child (or anybody).

According to The New York Times, in an interview with Steve Jobs, he was asked, “So, your kids must love the iPad?” to which he replied, “They haven’t used it… We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” This shocked me, coming from one of the biggest names in technology. The fact that a tech C.E.O. wouldn’t bathe his kids in all the fancy products he invented, makes me wonder if he knew things that most parents don’t know, or don’t care about.

The major negative effect of screen-time for children is having no face-to-face interaction. As babies, face-to-face interaction is really the only type of communication we have, and it’s the primary way we learn. According to pediatrician, Dr. Jenny Radeskey, “They (children) learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to regulate them… They learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions. And if that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.” I have already observed children, mostly pre-teens, who have “addictions” to their phones, showing signs of being socially awkward. I have heard kids my own age saying they find it weird when their friends’ parents talk to them, and just want to leave the conversation. I’ve always loved talking to my friends’ parents, and don’t understand why one would feel uncomfortable in such a situation. It’s just communication.

There are many other negative outcomes of too much screen-time with children. One effect has to do with rapid brain growth. According to The Huffington Post, an infant’s brain is in a continuous state of rapid development until they turn 21 years old. Over exposure to technology can cause attention deficit disorder, impaired learning, cognitive delays, delayed development and more. The most interesting negative effect I discovered is addiction to technology, which is my main reason for judging children with smartphones. One in 11 children, 8-18 years are addicted to technology. Some more obvious, negative effects of too much technology are obesity, sleep deprivation, and aggression (from violent media).

A 2014 AT&T survey revealed that the average child receives his first cell phone just after he turns 12, a third of which are smart-phones. Children should not be that attached to their cell phones, even though smartphones are very easy to become addicted to. Something I didn’t come across while researching this topic was the differentiating opinion between smartphones and general cell phones. I think, in today’s society, a normal cell phone (that can only make text/calls) is practically a necessity for kids age 10+, for safety purposes. However, I don’t think it’s necessary for young kids to have unlimited plans, they only use it to gab with their friends all day (unless they’re monitored). Also, I think it’s highly uncalled-for to buy them smartphones, because to them, they are toys.

In the long run, smartphones can be helpful, if used in the correct way. Some adults, that are very busy, use smart-phones for all that they are worth- helpful tools, to research on the go, easy communication, and much more. I believe that smartphones for children are just expensive toys that destroy communication skills, and they shouldn’t have them. My main opinion, however, is that the benefit of smartphones for children is too little, and the possibility of negative effects is too much.

Is Flash Animation dying?

By Nathaniel Vega

The topic concerning the reliability of Adobe Flash compared to HTML5 as tools for multimedia, both on the Internet and on mobile devices, has been ongoing for the past few years. Technology is evolving and the purposes for devices and software are constantly being changed or improved. Mobile devices are operating with HTML5 functionality and its usefulness continues to grow. Because of the halt on support for Adobe Flash on mobile devices, will Flash’s functionality eventually be replaced on all devices for good? What exactly are Flash and HTML5 and how do they both play a part in today’s technology?

Adobe Flash was introduced in 1996 and has been one of the more popular tools for both audio and video functionality on web pages. Similar to the way computer programs work, requiring .dll (dynamic link library) and other system files in order to execute flawlessly, Flash multimedia on web pages require special plug-ins to be downloaded prior to being used or displayed. These particular plug-ins are provided by Adobe and are easily accessible by visiting their web page online at http://www.adobe.com. Creation of animation is possible with Adobe Flash, which is a program that provides its users with a handy graphical user interface and various shortcut tools for a quicker and more pleasing point-and-click experience. Flash’s support for vector graphics, supporting files created by image-editing programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, made it one of the more popular animation tools to use for both online and offline purposes. It is also capable of running advanced functions through scripting, for artists who wish to incorporate extra features to their animations.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) has existed on the Internet, not necessarily for video and audio, ever since the early 1990’s. It is primarily a text-based programming language, relying solely on scripting and lacking a functional and user-friendly graphical user interface. This particular style of programming matches the styles of older computer programming languages, such as “QBasic” and “C”, where specific words and numbers in each sentence or line prompts specific commands. Each command called for in the scripts is then used to perform various functions (or actions). For example, changing the color of a large rectangle isn’t as easy as grabbing a paint bucket on graphic-editing programs such as Microsoft Paint and clicking on the rectangle itself. Instead, the color value of the rectangle must be typed, the number value of the color being defined and filled within the parameters of the shape itself, in the lines of the text-based script. HTML was not the point-and-click experience that most users have preferred it to be.

HTML5 is different compared to its predecessor in that it is capable of playing both video and audio on web pages. Though it still lacks a graphical user interface, it is reliable enough of a tool to motivate programmers to create software that will make its functionalities easier to control. HTML5 is capable of handling vector graphics and that makes it a necessary alternative to Adobe Flash on the latest web browsers. Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Computer Inc., believed that HTML5 would supersede Adobe Flash in popular mobile devices like iPads, Blackberries, and Androids.

Because of Adobe’s decision to put a stop toward developing the Mobile Flash Player, Jobs’ prediction came true and this is how Adobe Flash is inferior to HTML5.

Software is everything in today’s technology and if any kind of software can’t keep up with the evolution of technology, second-best alternatives are placed on the highest level of importance.

The Double Edged Sword: Technology!

By James O’Hagan

Hello, Hi, Hey, What’s up, what’s good, and Yo! Seems that these greetings are common between friends, but what happened to saying hi to perfect strangers?  Hi, I’m James and I grew up in the 80’s, which was a time when everything was a lot more laid back. We felt more at ease. Now, I was a kid then so it didn’t impact me as much as it did the adults. Kids always said hi to each other and were more willing to communicate face to face then… what choice did we have, we didn’t have cell phones, Internet, blogs, IM’s MySpace, FaceBook, or Twitter. To hang out with your friends you had to walk over to their houses, and knock on the front door, and ask their parents if they could come out.  I guess now I’m showing my age of course, but, that’s ok, it was great to be able to experience the jump in technology from how it was in the 80’s.

But, there is some down falls to our newfound communication conduits. Since the creation of cell phones, the ones we could afford, the world as Generation X knew it, changed dramatically.  From, letters to email, from phones calls to texts, has the world has gotten… lazy?  Maybe! I feel that the world has changed and one of the reasons that these changes maybe good is it makes people feel safe, because there is a barrier between them and the person they are interacting with.  But, it’s also a shame, that we can’t even lift our heads far enough to acknowledge when someone says hi to them face to face. With our noses stuck to our smart phones, we can easily type, “Yeah, I need 4 more friends for Mafia Wars”, but can’t pay attention to the people around us.

With the creation of texting, facebook, and twitter, the normal hello you may have heard years ago no longer resonate from the mouth, but, from the fingertips, and not to the person in front of them, but, someone in the next class, next city, or next country.  I personally did a quick test, sitting in our Fine Arts Buildings rest area, throwing just a simple “Hi” or “What’s up” to my fellow students that passed by, Out of them I greeted 20 students, 10 male, and 10 female. Out of the males, I was able to get a pleasant response to 7 out of 10. Now, with the females, I was only able to get 5 out of 10, but I think one student was wearing ear buds and possibly didn’t hear my greeting.  My hopes are that one day we can go back to saying hello, face to face, and not worry about if that person has a FaceBook or a Twitter account.

This addition of brand new and advanced social media focused smart phones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, and now even TV’s has been a curse and a blessing. On the up side it allows for new connections, learning, and, even new employment opportunities. On the down side, it has taken a new generation of youth and young adults and created an army of social media zombies. The basic practice of saying hi and talking with friends is some what watered down. Instead of friends hanging out and talking face to face, they have resorted to video chatting, while texting, and playing Call of Duty: Black Ops to fulfill their social needs. Then again maybe I’m just old school and if you are curious I do block game requests. If you see me just say hi, and then we can Facebook each other.

Rowan innovates use of robots for programming

scribbler-robot-review-backBy AARON RILEY

Staff Writer

Rowan University offers an Introduction to Programming Using Robots course taught by Dr. Jennifer Kay. She also teaches various other classes concerning programming.

Essentially, the class begins with students receiving a functional robot known as the Scribbler. The Scribbler can be controlled with the Python programming language via a Bluetooth connection between the computer, where the user is inputting the commands with a keyboard, and the robot.

 According to student Stephen Smith, some of the projects they’ve done include using special conditions to make the robots exhibit certain behaviors over time such as following a light and crossing a specific number of black lines drawn on the floor.

The goal of the class is to gain a better understanding of how robots can be programmed in order to achieve certain physical goals; through this process, the student learns how to program in the Python language. Students are not responsible for learning anything more technical about the robot than its basic functions and what commands it responds to using Python, and they are not required to learn the schematic of the Scribbler. The class is not about building, maintaining, or designing robots, though a brief history of robotics is explained in the introduction of the course. The robots’ response to the code students run gives the students the ability to see how their programs work in a very tangible manner as opposed to simply seeing data output on a computer screen.

Once a basic understanding of the robot and the Python syntax is gained, students are encouraged to experiment with the various functions of the robot. However, there are some weeks when the robot is not used in the classroom. During these weeks, the lessons focus only on specific Python capabilities and functions. The students take the robots home for the entire semester, and so they are free to work with the robots whenever they want until the end of the semester.

Discussing the highlights of the course, Smith said, “I created a dance video with six robots running identical code (which can be found HERE). It’s my code, choreography and music selection…simplistic yet cool. The robots aren’t in complete unison because the code was executed by six different people on six different computers attempting to press Enter at the same time. I also designed a tic-tac-toe game that can be played by two robots. That project hasn’t been completed as of this time, and it’s finals week, so it’s not going to be finished as an assignment.”