Evolution of technology: is the upgrade worth it?

graphic: Caleigh Dwyer

graphic: Caleigh Dwyer

The next “new” thing

With fall comes the start of a brand new school year, brisker weather, and, of course, a long-awaited release of some new technological device. This is the time that teenagers and adults alike rush to the nearest Apple store and wait in excessively long, Black-Friday-esque lines to pick up the newest tablet or phone on the market before any of their friends. Although iPhones are currently the most relevant example, this obsession with updates is prevalent across the tech industry, with individuals attempting to keep up with the newest laptop, phone, or tablet.

This brings up the issue of whether these advancements are really all that “new.” Sure, if I was to line up my fifth-grade Pantech phone with my “outdated” iPhone 4, there would be a significant difference in quality, but would that difference still apply to a generation 5 iPhone matched up with the newest iPhone 6? We’ve all heard the news or watched the release video; according to Apple, the iPhone 6 is “bigger,” “better,” and “dramatically thinner,” but aren’t these qualities still applicable in a smaller degree to the slightly older iPhone and even to other top-brand phones such as the earlier Samsung Galaxy?

With the constant overlap of upgrade characteristics, even among the products of cross companies, the value of upgrading decreases. If it’s not for the actual advancement, then some may feel that the “upgrade” is just for the sake of owning the newest thing. I admit, I also crowded around, intrigued, to watch a classmate expose all the cool features of her newest phone because there truly comes a sense of fascination in the first hand experience of the next biggest thing in the industry. But I soon realized that all of these cool features were extremely similar to previous ones and differed only to a minimal extent, leaving me content with my “old” iPhone 4.

For years now, students have been pressured to keep up with the newest fads, whether it be collecting Silly Bands in middle school or purchasing Bean Boots in high school. But today, students are most heavily affected by the endless technological releases that play a large, superficial role in distinguishing us from our peers. All of these trend examples seem to serve as symbols for wealth and status. These types of fads all revolve around a common theme of conspicuous consumption that is becoming more and more extensive, and this consumption seems to manifest itself especially well in the tech-based industries. Teenagers that do not own smartphones can feel outdated when using their less-advanced phones and feel pressured into needing something regarded as more cutting-edge. These situations demonstrate how the never-ending releases and upgrades can create unhealthy obsession and muted competition in a student’s life.

Such infatuations with technology can also create a materialistic environment for any individual. By preoccupying ourselves with all the various features of smartphones and computers, we, as teenagers especially, can get distracted from school work and even in some cases, real-life interaction with family and friends. Today, smartphones are so naturally incorporated into our daily routine that they have inadvertently become an extension of ourselves. Therefore it is important to limit our time with technology, to minimize the tasks we use them for, but also to eliminate our addictions or obsessions.

Instead of focusing solely on how new or progressive their phones or computers are, teenagers specifically should recognize if the current product they hold is sufficient for their personal lives. Our days and work depend upon the usage of technology, and completely withdrawing from it would not be in our best interest. Rather than focusing on what is trending, we should focus on what we absolutely need in technology for our own success. By doing so, we can concentrate on benefiting ourselves rather than keeping up with the trendiest advancements. by Marysia Kaminska


Constantly striving for improvement

An eight-megapixel camera, LED touch display, intelligent-software assistant, fingerprint-identification feature, and Bluetooth MP3 player. Just a few years ago, these features were just sketches on paper outlining a distant technological dream. But today, all of them have been consolidated in our mobile devices, such as in the newly-released iPhone 6. It’s hard to believe that ten years ago, cell phones were solely communication devices. Nowadays with the swipe of a finger, we have access to nearly everything in the world. Communication itself has changed its definition from simple speech to include social media connections, email, and news. The world truly fits in the palms of our hands.

The media often refers to our generation as the “Google Group.” Technology has changed our lives in such dramatic ways that it’s hard to imagine surviving without it. Walking through the halls of PHS, it’s easy to see students integrating modern technology into their academic and social lives. Whether it’s editing a document on their phones, looking up facts for a history essay, or sending out mass texts for a party, the truth is, most students would be lost without their access to technology.

The mobile phone is not the only technological device to have undergone a dramatic transformation; other devices such as laptops and even calculators have greatly advanced. Laptops have slimmed down and have far more sophisticated software, and calculators can now generate graphs with full-color, backlit screens. These devices are all over PHS—they are crucial in our academic endeavors. With faster, more sophisticated software, students can work on labs, essays, and other projects with ease. For example, for many science classes, graphs have to be made for lab reports. PHS provides programs such as Microsoft Excel that allow students to quickly and easily make graphs, instead of having to make them by hand. Tablets allow students with special needs to communicate their wants and needs and allow foreign language students to critique their own speaking after recording a presentation. These advances in technology have allowed for better, more enhanced learning opportunities for all students.

The endless improvements stem from the desire for a better product, something new and innovative. When the very first iPhone was released in 2007, it was considered to be a technological marvel: a Web browser, camera, phone, music player, e-mail tool, all in one device! However, Apple was not satisfied; it wanted to improve, to give consumers a better experience. There was a lot of dedication involved: the engineers and designers working on the iPhone would work 80 hours a week, enhancing their creation, according to Fred Vogelstein’s article in the New York Times. Former senior vice president of iOS Scott Forstall said he would tell potential employees, “All I can say is that you will have to give up nights and weekends and that you will work harder than you have ever worked in your life.” With the extreme dedication came an even better product; the iPhone 6 has improved greatly compared to the original.

This constant innovation and push for something bigger and better isn’t something that’s exclusive to the world of technology. It can be found right in the classrooms of PHS. PHS students go beyond the norm when it comes to learning. They are willing to sacrifice precious hours of sleep so that they can get better grades and juggle several AP classes despite having several time-consuming extracurriculars. Students sacrifice their break and after-school time so that they can get assistance from teachers if they need help. Athletes spend hours practicing their skills on the field and musicians strive to ensure their every note is perfect. The drive to succeed is within every student here: its presence can be felt in the halls.

To keep pace with the flow of innovative ideas and improvements in the world of technology, students are motivated to achieve more. New programming languages inspire new classes in the computer science department. iPads are found in the library for student use. These changes aren’t solely implemented by administration, for students also push for the improvements in order to better their education. It’s no secret that advances in technology directly affect our learning. Tomorrow, we will be the generation leading the world, and knowing how to utilize technology is vital to our future. Education is no longer contained in the realm of textbooks and lined paper—it is found in the hard drives of laptops, pages of online portals, and threads of message boards.

Technology constantly pushes forward, challenging the boundaries of communication and innovation. Likewise, PHS students strive to achieve a better education, and work hard to set higher standards of learning every year. One day, a PHS alumnus could be heralding in the new generation of science and technology. Technology and PHS share the same timeless ideal: improve and adapt for the benefit of every generation that comes. by Angela Kim and Architha Sudhakar



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