Are Smartphones Ruining Our Lives?

         We put so much value on mass communication and being able to be in the know how of everything that is going on in the world that we forget what happens to our brains when we get caught up in all of it. More specifically the invention of the phone and eventual upgrade to the smartphone is what set the stage for a complete reconfiguration of the way people lived their lives. It has only been about twenty years or so since the first smartphone was created in the 90s and it has taken the world by storm. Today almost everyone who can afford a smartphone, has one. Our social behaviors have changed in the past decade and have immensely changed in the last twenty to thirty years. The technological advancement and innovation of the smartphone has brought much efficiency and convenience, but it has also brought changes in our sleeping patterns and changes in how we communicate with each other.  

         Using smart phones have brought upon loss in one of our most important human functions, sleep and or healthy sleep. Studies show that most people use their smartphones before they go to sleep and this in turn causes the brain to receive blue lights emitted from the phone screens which alter sleep patterns or our circadian  system. According to research, we take in blue light more in the morning where it peaks and we take in red light more in the evening. Disrupting this normal cycle by adding more blue lights into our eyes causes us to find it harder to sleep. It also disrupts our REM sleep which we need in order to receive proper sleep when we do sleep. The problem that arises here is that we keep the smartphone by us when we sleep which in turn doesn’t let us rest until we fall asleep due to exhaustion. Researchers even say that when our phone is turned off, it may still emit these blue lights that signal our brains to stay awake. Young people and adults are mostly affected by this since they are the ones with the highest ownership within our population and in turn they grow up with less sleep. In John Medina’s, “Brain Rules”, he dedicates a well written chapter to the function of sleep. In it he states that “ the loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, memory, mood, logical reasoning, and even more dexterity.” The loss of sleep as a result of smartphone usage is detrimental to one’s health. Hence, smartphones have had a huge affect on our sleep.

        Since the turnover to the first widely commercial smartphone, we have become more connected with social medias and the internet in every way possible. This fact utters a truth on how our communication has changed dramatically. We have become soulless in our efforts to broaden our communications with each other. The smartphone has turned us into zombified people that have no idea what goes on in our surroundings when we are using it. We bring our smartphones everywhere we go. We bring it to dates, hangouts with friends, family events, to the dinner table, even to the bathroom. We are stuck to it and for some people, completely attached to it that if they had their smartphone taken away from them for more than an hour, they would start to panic at the thought of not being able to know what going on within their phones. We can communicate through emails, text messages, instant messages, blogs, social media, calling, etc. This is how vast our communication has expanded and all of those things mentioned before can be accessed through the smartphone.  After interviewing both my mother and a friend of mine of the same age on how they felt about smartphones, their responses were as thought, completely different. My mother stated “it’s destroying how we interact as a family”(Rojas, Interview). Not only do I have a smartphone but so does my dad and my mom. She even said “it doesn’t allow for people to talk even with they are right in front of each other”. She is for and against the smartphone as she realizes that it’s useful in her life as well as in other’s lives but its detrimental in the way we interact with each other. On the other hand, my friend stated that “ the smartphone is too cool and fun to use that it doesn’t matter how it affects me” and he also said “ I’m too connected with everyone I don’t understand how that’s a bad thing”(Rivas, Interview).  With one side of the spectrum completely denying its negative aspects and the other accepting both its uses and its downsides, we can see the disparity in the perspectives by our society on smartphones.

         The smartphone is a marvelous innovation and its purpose is practical and useful to our everyday lives. Its features aid us in our everyday endeavors. It allows us to chat with our friends, families, anyone, it can let us surf the web with ease since all the information is at our fingertips. We can play mobile games and read books on our phone screens. The best part of this is that you can use its features anywhere, as long as your battery is not close to dying and that you have service you can do anything on the phone. It seems almost perfect for anyone to have and use because it has benefits that anyone could use. However, with all of this, the smartphone has more negative aspects than positive. Convenience is not the most appealing thing when smartphones cause you to become socially isolated from the rest of the world. A group of teenagers sitting around hanging out will mostly likely consist of them checking their phones periodically instead of staying in verbal conversation. You can walk down any street in most developed nations of the world and you will most likely see someone holding a smartphone in their hand and they will be fixated on it. The smartphone has most of our society hooked on its addictive features.          

           With the dawn of the new millennia, smartphones started to take rise in popularity. Its functions and utilities have given it high reputations as being one of the most monumental inventions in human history. It’s like holding a computer in the palm of your hands with the basic phone features included. We have become completely starstruck towards smartphones and we have fallen victims to its addictive qualities and useful features. Smartphones have caused us to not socialize in person more because we’re stuck looking at the visual screen waiting for it to feed us more and more bits and pieces of social media. We’ve become hooked to the smartphone and it’s causing too many changes in our social behaviors, our brain chemistry, and our sleeping habits. Should we change the way we go by using smartphones? Will we realize that sticking by and using this device will only further our path into becoming more brain dead and more robotic in our behavior. Of course, we should not advocate for a complete ban on smartphones, but we should consider a change in the way we live with our smartphones. Whenever we’re with friends or family we should put it away and divert our full attention to the people we are with. We must not submit to the numbing of our brains that is caused by the smartphone.



“How Do Smartphones Affect the Brain?” Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

“How Smartphones Change the Way We Live.” Mysms Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

Khazan, Olga. “How Smartphones Hurt Sleep.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

Olga Rojas. Interview. Mother. 46. December 15, 2015

Randy Rivas, Interview. Friend. 18. December 16, 2015

The Virtual Sandbox By Reynaldo Cabral

During our childhoods there comes a time in our lives when we wish we could have the ability to enter video games. I went to a skateboard convention back when I was in high school, and there was a section that had a beta testing on the Oculus Rift. I was able to get the Oculus on and the Staff had put the headset on my ears. The vision was blurry so it threw me off from feeling the reality aspect, but the sound and movement sensor were executed properly. When the video started I was able to move my head around, to the point that when I had moved, the picture move with me without delays to throw me off of the sense of being in a virtual world. The sound of my surroundings in the Oculus made it so that I was able to hear the skateboards as if they were right under me and could hear the wind passing through me. I was also able to hear the voices of the other skaters in the video from where they we standing as if they were actually there. However, the blurry visual images threw me off from feeling the reality in the Oculus. Virtual reality can be the same as reality for the brain but it would all depend on how much we can trick the brains senses so it feels like it is reality. In this essay I explore the relationship between virtual reality and the brain, and I argue that the brain processes virtual reality like a dream.


Virtual reality is the ability to leave reality and enter a world simulation that is called a sandbox that our minds interpret as a dream. According to Ed Baig “Virtual reality can help overcome fears”(Baig par. 3). In this sense, with the sandbox, we are able to create a simulation of our biggest fear and overcome it. An example of this is when Ed Baig mentions, “my brain was tricked into believing I was suspended high above the ground”. Baig creates a world simulation of a wooden plank high up in the air and he was standing right on it. He was using this to help him with his phobia of heights. Paula, she does not like talking about her age, she is currently occupied as a Hairstylist, she has graduated from high school and had gone to college in the Dominican Republic and again in the United States, she is my mother. I asked her what does she think virtual reality is in her own words, after having to explain to her what it was and what it can do. She replies “Virtual reality will be another way for kids to leave the real world, and forget about their studies and continue to rot their brains on video games”. In my mother’s opinion she’s always hated games and believes they bad for the brain, but she had never bothered to do research on it. Virtual reality needs to use the brain’s sense against itself to trick the brain to think what it sees is real. These main senses that tricks the brain are eyesight, tracking, and sound.


To begin, one of the senses needed to trick the brain is the eyesight. Showing a person an image and telling him or her it is real and making it so the brain can take the information of what the eyes see to believe it. The content must be in a 3d visual aspect and in a high quality, as I mentioned in the beginning when I tried the Oculus from the skating convention the 3d aspect was there but the image was really blurry making it hard to trick my brain into thinking it’s the real world. Throughout the experience I was trying to get my vision to focus on the image, but it was impossible to get it to focus because the lenses from the Oculus were to close for the eyes to get a focus on the image. The advantage of being able to trick the brain on what it sees would be able to make it believe that’s it’s in an actual place either high up in the air for people with fear of heights or in front of an audience for people with speech phobia, to be able to overcome their fears. The disadvantage of tricking the brain from what it sees will be the ability to tell the difference from reality and virtual reality.


Furthermore, the tracking movement sensors of the Oculus is a necessary part on the changes of what we see in our field of vision. In the convention when I tried on the Oculus, it did not track my eye movement making it a steady picture of what’s in front of me, no matter where I looked in the video it stayed the same. The tracking of my head movement was executed perfectly. There were not any delays when I was moving around. I decided to remake the experience I had with the Oculus by buying Google Cardboard, it is a cheaper version of the Oculus but with this version I am able to use a phone with an app. When I tested it, I notice that it used the sensors of my phone to track the movement of my head and it was spot on. I let my little sister try on the Google Cardboard so she could get a sense of what virtual reality is, her name is Arlyn, she is 15 year old, and a high school student. I asked her what did it feel to use the Google Cardboard and experiencing virtual reality for the first time, she says “It gets me nauseous when I turn my head, my brain feels my movement and it sees the other, it’s hard to focus on the image in front of me I end up seeing double.” She also told me that when she moved her head it seems that the virtual reality was moving faster than what she was trying to. The brain tried to make sense of her movement while it was feeling one thing and seeing the other making it overload. Tadhg Kelly tells us, “If you turn your head and look over there, you’ll notice a slight discrepancy, and your brain will feel it”(Kelly qtd in Manjoo par. 10). What he says is just the same as what my sister felt when she was feeling one thing and seeing the other on the Google Cardboard. On the Oculus I tested at the convention I notice that there wasn’t any peripheral vision, it was dark on the sides and all you could see was the front as if I was looking through binoculars. The advantage of being able to trick the brain with movement tracking is that it make the person wearing the Oculus feel more into the virtuality and believing it’s real. The disadvantages of this would be if not performed correctly it can make the brain feel nauseous and out of place.


Lastly sound, next to our eyesight, plays a major part in tricking the brain. Our brains use the ears to listen to the sound of our surrounding to check what’s around us and to hear where might something or someone be, to tell if they’re in front of us or behind us. The Oculus I tried on did not have their own headset built into it but they put some on me. The sound was as if I was actually there. I could, in a sense hear where everything was at. For instance, when, the skaters started moving I could hear the skateboard under me rolling on the floor and also hear the other skateboards from the other skaters. I could also hear the leading skater voice sound more distance than the once that were more closer to me. The sound helped into tricking my brain that I was actually there. The advantage of the sound is that the Oculus can fake the surrounding sound making it feel that’s in the actual place and not just a desolate room. The disadvantage would be that the sound could be out of sync and throwing the person out of balance from what he sees and what he is hearing.


Using our senses, visual, movement tracking, and hearing, we are able to throw the brain into a sandbox. The brain interprets the sandbox as a dream, while inside you are able to do whatever you want, being able to create and imagine anything as if it was a dream. There have been other virtual reality technologies, like VFX1 VR, Jason W Ellis tells us that, “technological artifact from the heady days of the 1990s and the beginning of widespread adoption of the Internet”(Ellis par 1). The VFX1 were released a generation too early and it seems that the project got picked up by Oculus VR, LLC in 2011 it wasn’t released publicly until 2014. In the time gap between VFX1 and the Oculus, technology has advanced tremendously to its best abilities and it has implemented tools that now a day is considered an essential for our daily life. In the future virtual reality will end up as a daily need, armies might use it to train soldier, chef will use it to practice cooking, and so forth. The way we might end up thinking will change, most will take it for granted and others will use it to make meet people and make friends. Technology will grow and get better in time but to let it consume, and control our minds is up to us.



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Work Cited


Baig, Ed., and TODAY USA. n.d. “Virtual reality can help overcome fears, prejudice.” USA Today, n.d. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 10, 2015).


Cabral, Arlyn. Personal Interview. 09 of December 2015.


Dr. Jason W. Ellis. “2 Days Left on VFX1 Headgear Virtual Reality System eBay Auction”. Dynamic Subspace. August 3,2009. Web. 13 of December 2015.


Manjoo, Farhad. “If You Like Immersion, You’ll Love This Reality”. Section B. LexisNexis Academy. New York. The New York Times. April 3, 2014. Web. 11 of December 2015.


Tolentino, Paula. Personal Interview. 11 of December 2015

Digital Entertainment and its Impact on the Human Brain- Taylor Hernandez

                 The Internet is an increasingly important technology that reaches into many aspects of our lives. For example, we use the Internet to find new information, listen to the latest new songs, discover new trends, get work done, study for tests, and express our feelings. In fact, digital technology and the Internet have become a very important part of how we learn, work, and interact with others. Using the technology gets our cognition going. One category of digital technology that I believe is very important is entertainment. Some of the entertainment technologies that we enjoy every day include: listening to music, playing video games, communicating over social media, laughing at comedy videos, or chilling with streaming video from Netflix. Digital entertainment technology makes it possible for people to listen to music, text, chat, play games, and watch videos almost anywhere: on the bus, on the train, in class, or at home. Because there are many types of digital entertainment, I will focus on digital music and discuss how two-forms of digital music leave different impressions on our memory. In this essay, I argue that listening to purchased digital music, such as MP3s or MP4s from iTunes, has a different effect on our memory than listening to music from a streaming service, such as, Pandora, or Apple Music, because these technologies provide a different listening experience.  In this essay, I will state how listening to purchased music on iTunes is a better listening experience, streaming services such a Spotify is a better experience than listening to purchased music, purchased music is better because you are able to listen to music in the order you want, and how streaming services can easily replace digital downloads.

               For example, listening to purchased music on iTunes is a better listening experience, because you do not have to worry about not having unproductive Wi-Fi connection that streaming services are dependent upon. For some people who are unsure what a streaming service is, a streaming service is a tool for transferring data so that it can be processed to the internet. It enables people to listen to some of their favorite music without having to go buy an entire album or song. Streaming services are very popular and are often used for uploading videos, music and other types of live/digital entertainment. When music is being put on a streaming service, the media is put onto the computer so the file can be decoded. Once the file is completely decoded it is then uploaded to the streaming service where it can be heard from millions of people around the world. People who purchase MP3s songs can be accessible through their cellular devices. We can create playlist’s, change the songs as much as we want, and this will enhance the activities that are controlled by our brain.


In my opinion I feel that listening to purchased music is better because it has good quality, you do not have to worry about having Wi-Fi, once purchased it yours forever, and you can listen to the artist it as many times as you want. When listening to purchased music there are several reasons such as its various listening affect, the clarity is much more superior, and there are unlimited genres to choose from. When personally listening to music I look to hear the quality. Music that has a good quality is finer than listening to music that is being streamed because purchased music such as mp3s/mp4s have a much more clear sound. There are no background mistunes and no different voice tunings. I also think that having to purchased music with a finer quality is more better because if you listen to a song on a radio you can purchase that song and have it forever. You can listen to the song as many times as you want and not worry about having to wait for that specific song to come on the radio. With purchased music you can skip songs, create playlists with songs that you like to hear and you can play the songs over and over multiple times as you want. On the other hand I feel that listening to music that is on a streaming service is better because it is free and you do not have to pay for them but the sound quality is poor.


Purchased music is better, because you can listen in the order you want. You don’t have to wait for the song to come back onto the radio and you can skip songs. Playlist is important because it helps keep the listeners organized and up to date with newest songs. Aken stated that, “Playlists create relevance with music by labeling songs and creating groups.” (Aken n.p.) A playlist is a folder that contains a list of music from different genres and can be played in any order that is preferred. It can be listened to on the computer, iPhones, iPads, and another electronically device. being able to listen to your own playlist helps enhance the activities that are controlled by our brain. Listening to music enables us to get many different tasks done. People should listen to purchased music because one thing every body hates about having to listen to online streaming services is the result of receiving poor Wi-Fi connection. Nobody likes to hear music that keeps rebuffing especially if it’s a song that they really like and haven’t heard in a while. Based on an interview I took, this person stated “I would prefer listening to purchased music rather than listening to live streaming services because with live streaming the music can get a little fuzzy and some times the song has a high pitch voice, whereas on the other hand having mp3’s and mp4’s the music sounds clear and there is not special voice affects.” (Cicero-Santalena quest. 6) From another interview person 2 stated “ I do not have time to just sit on a computer and wait for a song to play on YouTube. Its takes forever and sometimes the song turns into a loading error. I rather purchase the song so I always have it and don’t have to worry about waiting for the song to load. I can have it on my tablet and do house work at the same time.” (Indelicato par. 2)


Listening to streamed music on live streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora is better because you can stream music for free without having to pay any thing and there is a large variety of genres to choose from. A lot of people recommend using streaming services when listening to music because they feel that having to pouches music is simply a of just throwing you money into the trash bin. People who do listen to music online like it better because its free, you are not wasting your money, and you can listen to a  million different songs. Many people who listen to music, over time get exposed to different music which then creates new connections to the brain. In an article The Power Of Music’ To Affect The Brain a recent study showed that listen to music can help patients heal and babies that cry when they are a few weeks old were found to contain some of the basic intervals common to Western music. (Mannes par. 1 and 3) Something I found interesting was that listening to music can help stimulate more parts of the brain then any other function of the body. Some genres of music have a very soothing sound such as classical music and relaxation music. When people are listening to an online streaming service, some streaming services will give you an option to create playlists which allows you to control the experience but your still limited to needing connection.


What is the future for listening to music? People who listen to music on live streaming services will be more popular to those who purchase music. Live streaming services will take over having to not be able to purchase music anymore. People will save money and will not have any bills from using their credit cards. What happened if streaming replaces digital downloads? In today’s generation music people are streaming music more than having to go and purchase music. The rate of music being purchase is slowly taking a toll downstream. Most people might feel that they don’t need to be wasting their money on a song that maybe they could   only be listen to once, it is pointless because they don’t need to have their credit card jacked up with tons of money owed due to excessive amounts of music purchases, and there are free services that let you listen without paying anything out of your pocket. On the other hand there has been an increasingly large rate of people listen to streaming services, and has taken place of the amount of music purchasing. For example, according to Dredge, “The boss of major label Warner Music Group has warned rivals to “think very carefully” before restricting the free tiers of streaming services like Spotify, after his company revealed that it now makes more money from streams than from download sales” (Dredge par. 1). So, streaming services are gaining popularity. People that are streaming music using streaming services do not have to worry about buying songs that they could be listening to once, there won’t be any charging fees, and you can only listen to the music of a limited number.


Works Cited

  • Aken, R. A. “Encyclopedia of great song recording.” Current reviews for Academic Libraries; April 2014, Vol. 51 issue 8, p1370-1371, 2p: n.p. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
  • Dredge, Stuart. “Warner Music reveals streaming income has overtaken downloads; WMG chief Stephen Cooper warns rivals against ditching freemium streaming in favour of subscription services as part of war against piracy.” The Guardian 13 May 2015: n.p. LexisNexis. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
  • Mannes, Elena. “The Power Of Music’ To Affect The Brain.” NRP books Authors interviews 14 July 2011. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.
  • Cicero-Santalena, Nina. Personal Interview. 24 Nov. 2015
  • Indelicato, Connie. Personal Interview. 26 Nov. 2015

Google, The Future of Us

Pooran Nardeo

Professor Ellis

English 1101

9 December. 2015


The internet, our new virtual world, where we can hunt and gather information. The internet is such a widely used media today, that we seem too adapted to it naturally. One of the world’s biggest search engines today is Google. Google is not what it used to be anymore, for starter the company is not called Google anymore, it is called the Alphabet Inc. This is all due to how widespread Google has become. But back to the point Google, in general, the internet part which included the search engine, images, maps and Gmail. They are more Google tools that are available but for this argument these are the four main one I’m going to talk about. These are the four that made our life better, in the sense that it made us more intelligent.  These four simple but life change tools make our life better because, of the amount of information you can gather with the simple push of a few key. Another reason is the way we view it, both visually and mentally and finally the way we use it to communicate. I will start by giving a short but detail background on what Google is and the four specific tools that I chose and then, I will write how those tools made us smarter, by first explaining how it helps me gather information, then how I view it, both visually and mentally and finally how it helps us communicate. I will also give a few counterclaims, explaining why using these tool might not be such a good idea.

Google is one of the most recognize search engine out there today. You could basically find anything you need to know about something with a simple keyword or phrase. Google was found in 1998 by two brilliant minds Barry Page and Sergey Brin.  Google was created for one reason “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”(Alphabet Inc 1), a goal that they obviously accomplish. Today Google is much more than just information, they had become such a big and multipurpose company, that the company is not called Google anymore. The parent company is called Alphabet Inc and each letter represents a sub company or organizations, for example, the letter G, represent Google.

Google, in general, is a multipurpose media, they are a lot you could obtain for it, but you have to know how to use it. Google is pretty simple to use, just put in a keyword or phrase and hit search, but the search would be different for every subsection, of Google. Google have many subsections, but the one that is most widely use is the simple Google search. That is the one that is mostly use because it is the default setting and you get the most information on the specific search. Google have impacted our life so much that it is even trying to think what we are going to search before we even start searching. Studies have shown that “Google may shed light on relations between real-world events and people’s information search behavior” (Arditi 1). This is how they going to know what we’re about to think before we do it, by using our search behavior. They will be using advanced software system that could interpret our search history and tell what we would possibly be looking up next. This might sound like science fiction right now, but it is possible and when it happen it might be helpful but also scary for some people. For me it would be helpful because it knows what I want to search so it already has the information I’m looking for. This is going to be a time saver because I’m not going to have to scroll through page after page to find a simple document. This might also encourage people to search because they know they’re going to find what they’re looking for.  Studies also have shown that what we search for on the internet clearly affect the real world. “For instance, a relative increase in search of the word ‘debt’ tended to precede stock market decline” (Arditi 1). This is a very important fact because our economy depends mostly on stocks and if a simple google search can change our stock market, it means that it could change everything. Include the way we live. This could also be a good thing because if the word debt can cause a decline then the opposite might cause an increase in the amount of stock we buy. The Google is also the number one destination for people who want to buy stock. Because you could find everything you need to know about a stock company and how good or bad they’re doing. Google search don’t just affect our stock market, it affects the way we live and if we could use it efficiently our life would be better.

Google have a lot to give and another one of its multiple tools is the image search. The image search is a huge collection of photo from Google, user around the world. Google image is not only for entertainment, but it could also be used for research and education purposes. “Think more broadly than merely using image search to find pictures. Instead, consider the myriad ways in which an image may consider additional information or lead to an answer”(Notess 2). Barnard once said, “a picture is worth ten thousand words” and I agree with him because you could use photo for more than just amusement, you could use it to find clues, as evidence, or even as the quote said to lead to an answer. Another reason why image search is helpful is because we could use it, on the go, to help ourselves. “Picture can help with the identification of plants, animals, landmarks and people”(Notee 2). With to use of this, life would be easier because you could quickly look up a plant and know what it is and the entire history of it, the same you could do with a person or animals.  This mean that we don’t have to memorize everything because as human we only try to memorize the important facts. Google images are more than just photos, it’s a data bank of knowledge, both from the past and present.

Google map, the world in our hand. With the use of this, we could travel the world with a few click of a bottom and get information about any destination we like too. I personally use google map to find information about places where I am about to visit. It gives me a heads up on what I should accept, also I use it to get from one destination to another. Google map is not only for personal use, biologists also use it, to gather information. “We present an exploration of design opportunities that the Google Maps interface offers to biomedical data visualization”(Jianu 1). This shows how the map tool is helpful to us a human, it makes it easier and more understanding. With the use of this specific tool biologists around the world with access to Google will be able to gather data and share it with each other. This again means that they have more time which equal to more work getting done. The map tool is not only for experienced user, anyone could use it. “We also find that users, particularly those less experienced with computer use, are attracted by the familiarity of the Google Maps API”(Jianu 1). This once again shows how helpful this one simple tool is. This is not a tool that you have to learn to use before you start using it, it’s an interface that you learn as you go, picking up new technique on your way. The map tool might be one simple tool in the Google collection, but it is very important, both to us and our survival.

The final tool that I’m going to argue about is the email section of Google. The email section of Google is called Gmail. With the use of Gmail, the possibility of storing and revisiting information is endless. Gmail is not only used to store information, its use mostly to communicate. People around the world use Gmail to professionally contact each other and share information. According to a dear friend of mine, Andrew Ramlakhan, he said that “I personally use Gmail, to not just communicate with people but to get update on what’s going on around me”(Ramlakhan par 1). This is great example on how this tool helps us stay in contact with the world. Since, today the world is such a busy and confusing place, it’s good to know they’re something out there that could keep us, up to date. Gmail might be a small part of the internet, but the use of it is infinite.

Although many including myself argue that Google is a great idea, many others might have a different option. One of these people is my mom. She said that “I didn’t grow up with Google and I survived, so I don’t see how Google could make my life any better”( Nardeo par 1).  This could be true but since I’m a person that grew up with Google it would be nearly impossible to live without it. Some even argue that Google is taking over ” with 71 percent of the United States search market (and 90 percent in Britain), Google’s dominance of both search and search advertising gives it overwhelming control”(Raff 1). This might be true, but so far it not been a bad thing. Google is on top because how useful it is. They might be some negative on using Google, but the benefit overpowers it.

Overall the use of these four simple Google tools, Google search, image, map and Gmail, have not only help me but the people around me and even around the world. The use of Google search not only affects us, it affects what is going on in the real world. As for image, it makes us find information faster and use that information in multiple ways. Map lets us explore the world that’s out there and lets us know that there more out there for us to learn. Finally, with Gmail we could communicate with each other on a professional level and share information. This is how these four tools are beneficial to us, because of how it makes us smarter. Even though they might be some negative impact, the benefit is far greater. All we have to do is what we have been doing for since we existed, evolved and adapt to the new environment.

Works Cited

Alphabet Inc. “Google.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2015

Arditi, Eli, Eldad Yechiam, and Gal Zahavi. Association Between Stock Market Gains And Losses And Google Searches.” Pols ONE 10.10(2015): 1-12. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

Jianu, Radu, and David H. Laidlaw. “What Google Maps Can Do For Biomedical Data         Dissemination: Examples And A Design Study.” BMC Research 0Notes 6.1 (2013): 1-14. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

Nardeo, Sarita. Personal interview. 06 Dec. 2015.

Notess, Greg R. “Leveraging Multimedia In Web Search.”Online Searcher 37.2(2013): 62-64. Academic Search Complete. web. 1 Dec. 2015

Raff, Adam. “Search, but You May Not Find.”Http:// Lexis Nexis Academic, 30 Dec. 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Ramlakhan, Andrew. Personal interview. 05 Dec. 2015.

“The Dark Side of Social Network” By Carlos Villalva

We live in a society where we pay more attention to what is happening to the rest of the world instead of paying attention to what’s going on around us. Thanks to social networking, we are able to know what is going around the entire world with just a click of a button. Social networking is the use of a dedicated website, to interact with other individual around the world by the use of the internet. The most basic social networking that we use are Facebook, Myspace, twitter, Kik, Whatsapp, tumbler, Reddit, and Google plus. Without us noticing, the social network has gradually affected our lives, so much that it is now a part of our everyday life. Not only has it affected our brain, but our lives as well. Social networking had cause many controversial problems to many people. Whether it is good for us or not, it is important that many would have their own opinion on the topic. The issue is that social network grabs our attention on what is not important, promotes stress, we remember more about what happens on social networks than in real life and damage our way of thinking. While other critics say social network. While other critics say social network promotes exploration, give us the opportunity for the world to listen to our opinions and promotes communication. Social Network was first a good invention that over the years has become bad for you and to the rest of our society

Many individuals have their own perspective of the social networking. One such person I had the opportunity to interview is my friend’s dad Oscar Naspud, whose occupation is accounting clerk. Oscar was first introduced to the world of social network by his friend, who persuade him to make a Facebook account. At first he was hesitant to use it because he believes that it was a thing that only teenager use and nothing more, but now his view, change, when he started using it, to the point that he believe everybody should use it. Since that day he first made an account for now, he has made multiple social networking account, which he would regularly check in a regular base. He used social networking as a way to contact his friends and to see what is trending right now, around the world. He often posts up status about his opinion on certain controversial subject on any of his accounts. We can see, that the social network has its benefits, which is that we are able to connect to peers, and understand what’s going around the world, while posting our opinion on them. When asking him about what change his view, he states “when I feel stress at work, I would rather see what my friend is doing more, but I put too much focus on it that I forget about my work.” (Naspud par 3)  He feels that going online, helps him relieve the tension or stress he has of being an accounting clerk and would rather prefer to do it, over this work. It is clear the benefits that social networking offers, but overall it isn’t a strong statement on why social network is good for us.

The good that the social network had given us does not outdo the danger that it promotes. In Oscar case, social network distract him from his work, because he pays too much attention on it than in his work. In John Medina book “Brain Rules”, it stated that isn’t necessarily his fault to pay attention to it because our brain is unable to focus more than 10 minutes at a certain thing. In short, we don’t like to pay attention to boring things. “Employee may show more interest in what their friend is posting them in their work tasks.”(Ali, 7) Which in, turn it means that social network promotes distraction because in these networks, we are able to see funny video, world news, people newest picture, famous people post and advertisement from our news feed. These Newsfeed we see, heavily influence us to spend long period of time on it. We and including myself have gotten distracted in social networks, to the point we lose our attention on it. It’s easy to log in to your account by using a computer that is everywhere in society or logging into our smartphone. When we lose our focus on our work, it promotes stress because we spend too much time on it, that we push the important things like our project, homework or work back. We argue to ourselves that we need more time to do our work, when we used all the time we had on the network. This is one main cause that prompts stress, and frustration, we spend too much time on things we don’t need to pay attention at all. Without us noticing, the social network has become a part of our life like Oscar, which is a scary idea because we put too much attention to it that we use it and we need it to relax our self. This is what’s happening, when we put too much attention on the social network, it promotes stress and takes a lot time from us.

We often use social network to gain more attention, which heavily affects the way we think. Today, we see too much immature post online, such as a foolish picture of themselves, and dumb post for people to gain a like’s. The more we see these repetitive immature post, the more we believe that it’s alright to do what they post, in the real world. This affects our thinking because we would end up harming an individual, without us knowing what we did is bad. This is often the case in this society, but what makes it worst is that those immature post influence our mind or ourselves to make more of this post. Those posts also greatly affect our memory. “Overall, the researchers found that Facebook status updates were one-and-a-half times more memorable than sentences from books and two-and-a-half times more memorable than faces.”(Mielach, 2) This indicated the harm, social network has done to our memory, by us remembering an immature post better than something that help us expands our knowledge. This goes back to our attention, we pay better attention on something that entertain us than a boring lesson. That influence us more to go back to these social network to remember those posts, for us to mention it to our friend’s. By the time we did that, we could have used our time to be more productive by studying and learning new topics for next class. However, it is clear to state that the way we think seriously impact our memory, but a social network manipulate the way we think to more immature thinking, thanks to the childish post that is constantly on the social network.

Another individual, who I was fortune to interview, who had a different view of social networking than Oscar. That person I have an interview is a close friend of mine named Andrea Zambrano. Like me, she enrolls at New York City College of Technology, in the field of architecture, technology program Andrea was once into social networking like all the other teen, she remembers that her friend told her to make an account at Aim in order to keep in touch with them outside of school. She admits that when making a Facebook account she would regularly check on Facebook almost every minute, she described “It was like a drug to me, that I couldn’t stop using it even if I tried to.”(Zambrano par 8) She mean by her quote, is that social network is a drug that was introduced by her friend, which she got too addicted to it. She would never really update a status because she wanted to keep her life to be hidden from the internet, but she used Facebook to see how her friend was doing with their lives. Her opinion of social networking has changed over the years, at first she felt that it was a dumb idea because it distracted us from our daily life. Andrea now, believe that it isn’t necessary a bad thing to have, but argue that you should don’t waste your entire life into it because life offers us more. She avoided having a social network account, which makes people around her to give her a weird look like she not normal and won’t believe her. It’s oblivious to note that like most people that social networking affects our attention by distracting us like my friend Andrea and Oscar. She believes that stress that we receive from the social network is dumb because we put too much focus, on how we would like the people online to view us, in order to get a single like.

In conclusion, social media is neither good nor bad, it’s the way we perceive it and the way we use it as. When social network was released it was a revolution that inspire people to communicate with one another over the web. At first it was good, but in recent time we have made it worse by the way we used it. For many, like Oscar, we use it to communicate with our friend, to post our opinion online and for relaxation from the stress he face from a hard day of work. It is important to note that the better the social network offers us, does not overdo the worse it does to us. Social network in general, harms our way of thinking, memory, attention and it promotes stress. We used social network in all the bad way, by distracting ourselves from work, due to procrastination. Which in turn influences us, what we see online to change our way of thinking of the worst. If you trained your mind to use a social network in a better way than I see no harm in it. Like my friend Andrea Zambrano said, social network isn’t bad, but just don’t put all your time into it because life offers us more.

Work Cited

Ali, Syed Noman. “Social Media – A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?” Social Media Today. Social Media Today, 08 Aug. 2012. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Andrea Zambrano. Personal Interview. 17 November 2015

Gibbs, Mark. “Social Networking, Ignorance, and Apathy.” Lexis Nexis. Network World, 8 Dec. 2011. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Howard, Jacqueline. “This Is How The Internet Is Rewiring Your Brain.” The Huffington Post., 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Medina, John. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, WA: Pear, 2008. Print.

Mielach, David. “How Facebook Affects Your Memory.” Business News Daily. Business News Daily, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

TIERNEY, JOHN. “Good News Beats Bad on Social Networks.” New York Times 19 Mar. 2013: D3. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

Oscar Naspud. Personal Interview. 18 November 2015

How Does Social Media Effect Our Brain Today? By Ryan Karran

Social media is a way for people to share content, either personal or public, to a website or application where other people can view. Through social media, we can gain other people’s insight on a certain topic and make friends. It is a great way of keeping up with trends and being socially active. Some people believe social media to be a major distraction and an unnecessary time consumer but I find it to be a way for everyone to connect and relate to each other. In this essay, I will discuss how social media impacts individuals both emotionally and cognitively along with how it can effect visualization in the workplace.

Social media has been really extremely popular when it comes to surfing the web and has been known to be one of the largest time consumers. It has also given people a way to make friends easily and has opened up new opportunities for people that are socially or physically impaired to build relationships. Raymond Tay wrote an article listing both the positive and negative impacts of social media on society. In his article, Impact of Social Media, he mentioned how President Barack Obama gathered supporters and voters through the use of social media. Obama had made about 5 million friends on more than 15 different social media sites which attracted visitors to his website,

Social media was also known to help and support countries that underwent a natural disaster. Tay stated, “In 2010, after the earthquake happened in Haiti, many of the official communication lines were down. The rest of the world was not able to grasp the full picture of the situation there. To facilitate the sharing of information and make up for the lack of information, social media came in very handy to report the news about the affected area on what happened and what help was needed. Tweets from many people provided an impressive overview of the ongoing events from the earthquake. BBC covered the event by combining tweets from the work of its reporter Matthew Price in Port-au-Prince at the ground. Guardian’s live blog also used social media together with the information from other news organizations to report about the rescue mission. The most impressive part of the social media’s impact on Haiti is the charity text-message donations that soared to over $10 million for the victims in Haiti. People interested in helping the victims are encouraged to text, tweet and publicize their support using various social networking sites. The Global Philanthropy Group had also started a campaign to ask wealthy people and celebrities, like Ben Stiller and John Legend to use Twitter and Facebook to encourage others to give to UNICEF” (Tay, par 8). After this crisis, social media began to be viewed as a positive impact on the world.

Although social media is known for its ability to form and strengthen relationships, it has also been known for its ability to tear relationships apart because of its “variations of depression caused by the lack of meaningful quality relationships” (Anderson, par 8). According to Tay, privacy breaching is one of the most common problems with social media. Tay states, “The challenge in data privacy is to share data while protecting personally identifiable information. Almost any information posted on social networking sites is permanent. Whenever someone posts pictures or videos on the web, it becomes viral. When the user deletes a video from his/her social network, someone might have kept it and then posted it onto other sites like YouTube already. People post photographs and video files on social networking sites without thinking and the files can reappear at the worst possible time. In 2008, a video of a group of ACJC (Anglo-Chinese Junior College) students hazing a female student in school on her birthday was circulated and another video of a SCDF (Singapore Civil Defense Force) recruit being welcomed to a local fire station made its way online.”

A group of researchers did a study with Facebook users in order to prove how social media could impact emotion either negatively or positively. They had Facebook remove positive posts from the news feeds of more than 680,000 users and noted that these specific users began to make less positive posts and more negative ones. The opposite happened when they removed negative posts from certain users. Tanya Lewis in her article, Emotions Can Be Contagious on Online Social Networks, proves that emotions are contagious and can spread amongst people without their awareness. In a study that took place in January 2012, researchers selected 689,003 random Facebook users and once again manipulated the number of positive or negative post that they could view on their timeline. The researchers used a word counting software which determined whether a post was negative or positive and removed a percentage from the user’s timeline. According to Lewis, “On average, about twice as many posts contained positive words (47 percent) as contained negative words (22 percent), so the researchers removed a proportional number of posts of each kind” (Lewis, page 2). The results were the same and in addition, they found that people who saw fewer emotional posts were just less expressive.

Cognition is the way we acquire knowledge and understand it. It can be acquired through any of your five senses and can be interpreted based on past experiences. Social media has had an extensive grip over the way people see or understand things. A great example of this is shown by an experiment done by a researcher in the Department of Journalism & Communication named Janey Lee. In this experiment, Lee used photos of both older and younger candidates to measure the impact of Facebook user comments on young voters. Lee discovered that young voters trust older users’ evaluations more than they do other fellow younger users. We can conclude from this study that there are many factors that influence political impressions in social media such as the type of comment or the age of the commenter.

While many think that social media have a positive outlook towards the way we think, others may argue that it has a negative or no correlation at all. Researchers Jesse Fleck and Leigh Johnson-Migalski conducted a research project called The Impact of Social Media on Personal and Professional Lives: An Adlerian Perspective to inform us about changes within both our professional and personal lives due to social media. Unfortunately the research resulted in social media having a negative effect due to a higher ratio of negative post compared to the positive posts. A similar research project orchestrated by Esam Alwagaita, Basit Shahzada, and Sophia Alim showed that social media usage actually had no correlation when it came to academic performance. In their project, Impact of Social Media Usage on Students Academic Performance in Saudi Arabia, they evaluated the number of hours students spent on social media within a week and the GPA scores of the college students. However, the scatter plots showed that there was no correlation between the two subjects due to the students’ great time management systems.

Saad Kabir, a high school student, claims to spend about 4 hours a day on all of his social media sites. After being asked for his response to social media’s impact on cognition, he spoke of him using social media as a news source. Kabir stated, “I find social media very useful when it comes to acquiring knowledge because its actually my primary source for news. For example, the terrorist bombing in France was completely in the dark to me until I logged onto Facebook and checked my feed. Upon entering, I saw a whole bunch of posts and links to articles relating to the event” (Kabir, par. 6). An interview with Janita Karran, a middle aged woman, seems to share a similar view to social media’s impact on cognition. After being asked how she acquires information from social media and if it affects the way she views certain information, she replies saying that often times she is surprised after reading other people’s insight towards certain topics. She gives an example of this by saying, “After hearing about Donald Trump’s idea to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, I was certain that he would do whatever it took to protect the people. However, after reading some of my Muslim friends’ comments and posts towards this idea, I too understood what he was proposing was madness and negated what America stands for” (Karran, par. 7).

Visualization is the way we see something in our minds and the ability to form mental images. Our brains process visual information rather quickly and when it comes to social media, data visualization is a very useful tool. Often times, the sharing of visual content will often result in a higher level of engagement compared to just posting plain text. John Dietrich in his article, Data Visualization for the Social Media Pro, provides to us some different tools that we can use in social media sites to help improve visualization amongst other users. Dietrich states, “Social media tools tend to focus on visualizing the data being collected and are an indispensable resource for social media professionals. There are a lot of tools available for the many social media networks out there, but again, those that focus on visualizing data tend to provide better results” (Dietrich, par 3). Simple graphs and charts can be used just to capture a user’s attention along with giving them additional information rather than having them read the information from text.

Many people find visualization within social media to be positive influence but can the same be said for employees in the workplace? According to Donna Ballman, nearly 90 percent of companies use social media for business purposes. Half of these companies allow employees to use social media for non-business activities. However more than 70 percent of these employers report having to take disciplinary action against employees for misuse of these privileges. While many companies felt like they had enforce harsher restrictions or keep a closer eye on employee social media use after hearing this news, Ballman had a totally different reaction. Ballman stated, “Holy cow! Seventy percent of employers not only monitor employee social media but are disciplining employees for expressing incorrect views. I have to ask, what the hell are we coming to when employers think they have the right to monitor and control employees’ opinions expressed on their own time in their own blogs, Facebook pages or other social media. What kinds of things are employers monitoring and cracking down on?” A study from the company Proskauer tells us that 80 percent of the surveillance goes towards misuse of confidential information. About 71 percent goes toward misrepresenting the views of the business. Another 64 percent goes towards both disparaging remarks about the business or employees along with harassment. Lastly, 67 percent goes towards inappropriate non-business use.

Even though it was established that employees are constantly being disciplined for social media abuses, it is still proven how the workplace benefits from social media.  A company by the name of Advanced Visual Systems works alongside many social media sites to gather information in order to reveal patterns and correlations that are difficult to determine. It’s an efficient system that incorporates various workbench analytical tools in order to create reports for a business’s decision makers. This advanced data visualization is being implemented in many businesses today because of its ability to efficaciously analyze and produce accurate results based of off data gathered from social media sites.

In conclusion, social media impacts society in both positive and negative ways. However the positive seems to outweigh the negatives in a large majority. Social media can impact us in three different ways. It seems to have a large effect on emotion due to a human’s nature to give what you get. Research projects intended to determine how social media impacts emotion shows that we post negatively or positively based on what we see more on our time feeds. Social media also impacts cognition meaning the way we acquire knowledge and understand it. Interviews showed that people use social media as a source of news and that it could also help you to understand a piece of information from someone else’s point of view. Lastly, social media’s grip over visualization is a debate that can be discussed for a long time before coming to a final answer. However, businesses today rely heavily on the feedback received from social media sites which really makes social media a positive influence when it comes to visualization. It is difficult to say whether these results will be accurate 10 years from now but one thing that will remain true is social media’s evolution. Social media will continue to further advance and will be used throughout many lives therefore impacting many others as well. In the future, businesses will probably start finding more efficient ways to profit off of data that they receive from social media sites. After all, social media is a major source of advertising. Establishing a good time management system is a good way to limit social media use for those out there that spend a prodigious amount of time on it.


Works Cited

Alwagait, Esam, Basit Shahzad, and Sophia Alim. “Impact Of Social Media Usage On Students Academic Performance In Saudi Arabia.” Computers In Human Behavior 51.(2015): 1092-1097. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Social Relations.” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. 1 July 2010. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.

Ballman, Donna. “70% of Employers Think Your Social Media Posts Are Their Business.” LexisNexis. 6 May 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Beattie, Alex. “Social Media and Its Effects on Our Emotional Well Being.” Social Media and Its Effects on Our Emotional Wellbeing Comments. Metro Blogs, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Dietrich, John. “Data Visualization for the Social Media Pro.” Social Media Today. 16 June 2015. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Fleck, Jesse, and Leigh Johnson-Migalski. “The Impact Of Social Media On Personal And Professional Lives: An Adlerian Perspective.” Journal Of Individual Psychology 71.2 (2015): 135-142. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Kabir, Saad. Personal Interview. 30 November 2015.

Karran, Janita. Personal Interview. 7 December 2015

Lewis, Tanya. “Emotions Can Be Contagious on Online Social Networks.” Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American, 1 July 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Thapa, Samita. “Beyond Social Media: The Role of Data Visualization, E-Learning, and Digital Mapping in Diplomacy.” Atlas Corps. 4 Nov. 2015. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Weaver, Lauren. “The Impact of Social Media.” The Impact of Social Media. 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.


“A Link Between Brain Growth and Video Games” by shamach campbell


Shamach Campbell


ENG 1101

Over the course of the last 40 years digital technology has changed and helped improve society. We are currently in the middle of the digital age. But one of the greatest achievements of the digital age would have to be in entertainment, especially video games. Despite to most contrary beliefs, video games can have a positive influence to the way your brain is shaped, wired, and the way it functions. Some examples include how some games can help augment a person’s attention and stimuli response. There have been studies were playing certain games for a certain amount of time can help increased brain’s overall mass and plasticity. But not only has that it also given people the ability to solve an array of different problems and puzzle. In this essay I am going to talk how playing video games can help increase the overall mental strength, agility, and perception of one’s brain.

Whether it is they’re trying to find an enemy’s attack pattern or concentrating on the rhythm of a song, one thing that video games are well known for is drawing in someone’s attention. But compared to how they concentration in game, how great is a gamer’s attention in real life. According to the article “Action video game players’ visual search advantage extends to biologically relevant stimuli,” gamers, more specifically gamer who are into action games like the first and third person shooter genre, tend to respond to stimuli a lot better than non-gamers. This is true because the action genre is nowadays is centered around “fast paced and attention demanding gameplay.” Joseph D. Chisholm stated “action video games have demonstrated performance benefits across a variety of visual search paradigms”(p. 93–95 ). A group of researcher had ran an experiment between action video game player and non-action video game players, they put them through several oculomotor trails to test the speed and accuracy of their eye movement. After several weeks of playing games for three hours a day they ran the experiment again and found significant results. They found that that everyone’s oculomotor skills have increased greatly. However when it came to the test subjects who played action video games most of the time, their overall average was about 14.9% better than those who didn’t play action games. Action games like “Call of duty” or “Battlefield” have the player constantly reacting to very specific details, from the shadows of other players to the sound of enemy footsteps. It’s up to the player to initialize what is going on or what is about to happen and then respond to that action as fast as possible. This is most likely the reason why the Action video game players responded to the trials at a much faster rate than the ones who didn’t. Since video games can help shape and improve our brain’s overall attention and accuracy, then that would also mean that video games can also help improve our brain’s mass and plasticity.

John Medina book “Brain Rules” he said that the brain is plastic meaning that it can be molded and reshaped through the things we learn and experience, and video games are just another factor that can contribute to it plasticity. Not long ago I had conducted an interview with one of my friends Demario Oliver, who was recently doing research on a similar project. I had asked him, “Do you think that video games can help improve our brain’s mass and plasticity?” He then said “Video games are a great way to influence our brain’s mass and plasticity; they help promote creative and logically thinking and can also increase our response time. In fact there are a lot of tests that provide evidence towards video games and an increase in gray matter.” I also asked him, “What types of games do you think work best to can help improve our brain’s mass and plasticity?” He said “the games I think work best to promote brain growth and neuro plasticity would be, puzzle games such as “Tetris” because they help to promote things like critical thinking and spatial reasoning. Real time strategy and Multiplayer online battle arenas such as “League of legends” because it helps to promotes long term strategy and on the fly thinking. And finally fast pace games like the first and third person shooter genre to because it helps improve out response time, attention to detail, and perception.” He then referred me to an article explaining even more information about improving our brain growth and plasticity. According to the article “Video Gaming Can Increase Brain Size and Connectivity”, a group of scientist conducted a study that found that playing video gaming can aid in the stimulation of neuron growth and connectivity in the areas of the brain. Some of these areas include, parts that are in charge of spatial positioning, parts responsible for the formation of memories parts responsible for strategic development, and not to mention it also aids in fine motor skills. And when it comes to skills like these, there are many different genres of games that help aid them, but the best genre that helps work on them as a whole is the puzzle genre.

When it comes to games like Tetris, candy crush, or the portal series, the puzzle genre is a very popular market. But even though there mostly just games, the puzzle genre has had a lot of positive benefits for both the plasticity of the brain, and some of life’s real world problems not to mention that they also help to promote both creative and logical thinking. I recently had conducted an interview with my aunt Arleta Crump who is currently a teacher at The Georgia Institute of Technology about what she thinks about the puzzle genre and the benefits it can have for the brain. I asked her, “what do you think of the puzzle genre and the benefits it can have?” she said, “I think they’re okay and at times it can be very challenging, and I guess as for the benefits I guess a lot of them really make you think or test your memory.” I went on to ask her, “Have you ever played or know of a puzzle game(s) that requires you think outside of the box, and how did you feel about it?” She went on to take about a three types of games “Fez” which is two-dimensional puzzle platformer that is set in a three dimensional world that mostly focuses on spatial reasoning and perspective. “Portal” a game all about navigating different rooms with portals that also focuses on spatial reasoning but also had involve strategic and creative thinking, and fine motor skills. And finally she also talked about escape the room games, games that require you to think outside the box and find clue to finish. Games like these have a lot of benefit to them, however when it comes to games in general there are many who believe otherwise.

Despite all the benefits that video games have there are still many people who not only believe they have no benefit, but they can so addicting they can actually hinder our brain. According to the article “Game Theory: How do video games affect the developing brains of children and teens?”, they say that too much time in front of the screen could a number of mental and physical problems with the brain such as; Gray matter atrophy which is they describe as the loss or shrinkage of brain tissues in certain areas like the frontal lobe. They also say that there is the chance of certain cognitive functions being impaired like impulse control and strategic planning. Not to mention, combining too much screen with some of the games we play, more specifically a lot of violent games like “Grand Theft Auto” or “Mortal Kombat” could have a negative effect on someone behavioral and mental state. They even preformed x-rays of several brains to try and determine a link between how long you play video games and the abnormalities it can cause. But in the end they’re trying to say that too much screen time could lead to impaired brain function and structure especially in places like the frontal lobe where a lot of thought takes place.

In conclusion, despite to most contrary beliefs, video games can have a positive influence to the way your brain is shaped, wired, and the way it functions. A lot of games that revolve around fast pace gameplay like “CoD” and “Battlefield” help encourage attention to detail and increased stimuli response, in the end a lot of gamers could potentially heighten there reflexes. The puzzle genre has had a lot of positive benefits for both the plasticity of the brain, and some of life’s real world problems not to mention that they also help to promote both creative and logical thinking. Playing video gaming can aid in the stimulation of neuron growth and connectivity in the areas of the brain like strategic development and spatial positioning. But in th end, even though there are many people who think otherwise and say things that make video games sound like their making us dumber, they just need to do more research and consider the benefits that video games have.

  • Work cited
  • Oliver, Demario, Personal Interview. 19 November 2015
  • Dunckley, Victoria. “Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain .” (Feb.27, 2014 Friday): 1,381 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 5 Dec 2015.
  • Kingstone, Alan. Chisholm, Joseph D., “Action video game players’ visual search advantage extends to biologically relevant stimuli.” (July 2015): 93–99 Pages. Academic Search Complete. Web. . Date Accessed:18 Nov. 2015.
  • Crump, Arleta, Personal interview. 25 November 2015.
  • Bergland, Christopher, “Video Gaming Can Increase Brain Size and Connectivity” (31 Oct, 2015). 99 Pages Web. Date Accessed: Sun. 28 Nov. 2015

The Real Face of Social Media by Alex Feng

Throughout the early 2000s to present day, this particular digital technology, social media, has evolve and made a huge impact on the average teenager and young adult life. Websites and applications such as Myspace, Aim, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat and many more have made sharing and creating content easier than never before. All it takes is a few clicks with a mouse cursor and anybody will receive an update with the latest news about their friends or updating their profile for friends and the public to see what has been happening in their life. However, despite how social media makes communicating with others extremely easier, it obstructs people’s empathy for others and themselves. Social media is literally a source for anybody to cyber bully others, it negatively affects some individuals’ self-empathy, and creates a false sense of connection with others. I will first discuss how social media has affect individual’s self-empathy. Then I will discuss how cyber bullying that is form by social media, not only obstructs people’s empathy for others, but worsen it, too. Afterwards, I will mention how social media creates a false sense of connection that cripples empathy between individuals. Lastly, I will bring up possible counter arguments of how social media may improve empathy between individuals.

Social media has redefined communicating with others, but most importantly drastically alter our view on ourselves. Some people may find themselves comparing themselves with their friends who are very popular. As they look at the comparison between themselves and their popular friend, they will notice what sets them apart from each other and it will hurt their self-esteem. According to this article from Reader’s Digest called, “5 Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain”, researchers discovered that one in three people felt lonely and frustrated after spending time on Facebook due to comparing themselves with friends. This decreases their empathy in general because these angry individuals will not want to understand how others feel and share only their jealousy and hatred since they are lonely. Another method of how social media obstructs individual’s empathy for others is by hurting the brain’s ability to think independently. The peer pressure that is born from social media affect’s people decision to fit in with the majority instead of the minority. How can empathy be increase from social media if someone relies on another person’s opinion to make a decision? Empathy is suppose to come from the understanding and ability to share feelings, but it cannot be understood properly if there is a third party interference. Therefore social media obstruct’s people’s empathy for others. 

An additional way of how social media not only obstructs, but worsen people’s empathy for others is cyberbullying. Take a second to stop and think about this question. Does cyberbullying actually increase empathy or decrease and obstruct empathy? According to this article on, a student shared his embarrassing personal story and material, but it was leaked onto social media. Due to bullies toying with him and not being able to handle the embarrassment, the student committed suicide. This is what the misuse of social media can do and it will not increase the empathy between people. Instead it will only wither away the temporarily empathy people have for each other and lead to others hurting others mentally. 

When has socializing from person to person become so quiet and awkward? Before social media has made a serious impact on the daily lives of the average teenager and adult, conversations were rich with emotion and passion. Friends were able to understand each other easily through empathy, but all that came to a halt since the creation of websites and applications such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Nowadays when a group of friends hang out with each other everybody takes out their phone and goes on Facebook or takes selfies and post them on Snapchat and Instagram. Where is the empathy? It is simply gone because this digital technology, social media, is emotionless and does not provide the rich emotion and passion that conversations have. Instead social media has instead of connecting individuals together is actually pushing them farther away from each other. According to this article, social media sites makes it more difficult to distinguish between sincere relationships that can only be establish in the real world to the casual relationships that are formed through social media. My colleague, Karen, said,”Every couple of days I receive a new friend request on Facebook, but the thing is half the time I don’t even know who these people are that are adding me. If I eventually meet them in person, I will probably only think of them as a stranger or an acquaintance, but definitely not a friend. I feel kind of bad through because some of the people that have added me actually think I am their friend when I know nothing about them.” This shows how a misunderstanding between two parties due to social media can lead to a decrease in empathy for each other. 

Despite how I portrayed social media to obstruct and worsen empathy between individuals there are plenty of counter arguments that would lead to the possibility of social media increasing the empathy between people. My mother, Lily, who is now 56 years old is working hard to support me and my sister. She left behind her friends in Guangzhou, China, but thanks to the advances in social media she has been able to reconnect with her old friends through applications and websites such as Wechat and Facebook. “I don’t like technology in general because I see you playing games all the time, but I am thankful for it at the same time to reunite me with my friends,” said Lily. Due to social media, it has given my mother the opportunity to communicate with her friends and reminiscent over the past thus increasing empathy between both parties. Also social media has saved lives by being an extremely versatile and useful tool during the recent Paris terrorist attack. According to this article from Academic Search Complete database City Tech, social media has saved lives and brought people closer together. Through Facebook, people offered to shelter the injured, wounded, and anybody caught up in the attack. Also there was a trend where Facebook users and countries around the world switched their profile picture and important monument to the colors of France’s flag. This is a perfect example of how social media can increase empathy between people in times of need.

Social media obstructs empathy between individuals through first affecting ourselves. Before anybody can learn to understand how others feel and share their own feelings, they must be able to understand themselves otherwise they will never truly understand how other people feel. As social media messes with our empathy for ourselves, it will also affect our self-esteem which makes individuals an easier target to become a victim of cyberbullying. It not only obstructs any empathy between people, but also worsens it since both the bully and victim are not bothering to understand each other or how anybody else feels. Also social media corrodes away at the few sincere relationships that people have with each other as individuals get more distant from each other and conversations become silent and awkward. This will only worsen as time goes by due to technology always evolving and eventually the part of our brain that is used to vocally communicate our thoughts will be rendered useless. To avoid this from happening, everybody should start throwing away their desire to constantly check social media and plan more indepth friendly activities to understand each other better. This will lead to empathy increasing. 

Works Cited

“5 Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain.” Reader’s digest. Web. 1 Dec 2015

Jung, Brian. “The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals.” Chron. Web. 30 Nov 2015

Karen. Personal Interview, 1 Dec 2015

Lily. Personal Interview, 2 Dec 2015

Rash, Wayne. “Social Media Save Lives, Brought People Closer During Paris Attacks.” Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Dec 2015.

“The Top Six Unforgettable Cyberbullying Cases Ever.” Web. 2 Dec 2015.


Video Games: Scapegoat or Real Threat? by Arjoon H.

As the new age of technology dawns on us we see that many things have changed. From the everyday workers to the most skilled artisan, they all have been replaced by some form of technology. This may seem like a negative thing but in fact is has been crucial to the advancement of the human race. Technology has affected all of our lives in one form or another. For children, growing up in this age, they are exposed to social media, the ease of access of information and video games. Based off of two interviews, an article from EBSCO and from LexisNexis I will prove that with recent studies, video games have not made children of the new technology age less empathetic to the tragedies of the world around them as well as look into what those on the opposing side has to say.

The first thing that happens in this new age is the digitizing of all the information and also the way we perform our day to day tasks. For adults it went from doing everything by hand with pen and paper to sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer screen for eight hours. For children it went from playing basket ball and man hunt outside to playing NBA 2K16 and C.O.D. Black Ops III. With this change we have seen children become less interested in the real world and more connected to a fantasy world. This world of battlefields and violence has many people convinced that they are the reason why shootings and violence has been on a rise. According to Nick Bilton, ” Researchers believe that the constant flood of violent images takes away a child’s ability to feel empathy for people who have been through similar situations in real life..(Bilton par 11).” Bilton states that the researchers believe that these things happen because of violent games. There is no real proof that this is the case. The only thing they can do is speculate based on observation however with no real evidence to back their theories they carry no weight to them. Bilton also goes on to point out that, ” After the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut, when it became clear that Adam Lanza was a fan of first-person shooters, including the popular military game Call of Duty President Obama said Congress should find out once and for all if there was a connection between games and gun violence. (Bilton par 20).” Now he is not saying that because Mr. Lanza was a fan of these games, this is the reason that he decided to do what he did. Bilton is simply stating that being exposed to these scenarios from an early age can cause impaired judgment about how to resolve situations. This impairment can come from being used to seeing one thing over and over, shooting people, to thinking that this kind of action will be appropriate for their own problems. However all this speculation from highly resolved people still does not prove what they think is right. For example, it is not true to say that just because I enjoy fighting games that I, myself, am a violent person. Actually its quite contrary, I am more pacifist than anything however the reason I enjoy these games is not for the violence but for one, I enjoy a challenge, and two, I enjoy the art of fighting and studying how the body moves when performing certain strikes and poses. This is where the problem lies with the adults and children. They do not ask why they like these things they just see and formulate an opinion with no real evidence. According to one of my sources, who’s name shall not be given but for the purposes of this essay shall be named Tony, ” I have played many video games throughout my time, from the fighting games at the arcade to the ones they have now and I do not find that I am any more violent than I was in 1985. (Tony par 5).” What this is saying is that yes the world has changed and become more violent it is unfair to blame video games for this upraise. “The mass shootings in recent years in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., were both committed by young men who had regularly played first-person shooters. But of course, tens of millions of young men play these games and never commit acts of violence (Bilton par 6).” This goes along with the Sandy Hook shooters story and those people are undoubtedly correct. The fact of the matter is that people do not want to accept responsibility for whatever actions they have performed and instead they look for a scapegoat to place the blame on.

Almost all children today have a gaming system. From PlayStation 4, to Xbox One, to Nintendo Wii, it is safe to assume that the majority of the houses in the nation has at least one of these systems. These systems are becoming more and more interactive and able to do more things. Initially they were to just play games, but now they can stream movies, and even browse the web. With all these innovations so too has the world of gaming. Not only can a child play the game on his system but he can connect to the web and enjoy gaming with other children across the world. Many parents believe that their child is getting caught up in this fantasy world and they begin to fear that whatever they see in that world will transfer into the real one. It does seem like a logical conclusion based on the fact that children are so impressionable. However we must look at the facts of at hand. To say that a child does not know the difference between right from wrong in terms of  killing another should not be blamed on the makers of the game but rather on the parents themselves. According to Tony, “Over the years I have seen kids who, [growing up], didn’t have any type of video games or even knew what a joystick was turn into very violent people while I’ve seen those who used to be the first to play any type of fighting game become COO’s of large corporations. It is not to blame entertainment for a negative upbringing of a child but rather the blame should be placed on the child’s parents who should have known to teach them right from wrong. (Tony par 8)” This just goes to show how quick people want to place the blame of something negative  on something else other than themselves. Once parents raise their children with the right set of common sense then they should know the difference between a game and reality. To add, according to the graph presented on page six of ” I Wish I Were A Warrior: The Role Of Wishful Identification In The Effects Of Violent Video Games On Aggression In Adolescent Boys” by Elly A Konijn, Bijvank Nije Marije and Brad J. Bushman the only real damage to be concerned about with children and violent videogames is the potential ear damage that they can cause. Violent videogames tend to be louder than its non-violent counter parts because they have so much going on that you have to keep the volume up to really understand what the situation is in the game, especially in the online games. Their research also states that, “Boys in early to middle adolescence and of low educational ability are susceptible to violent video game effects. Participants were especially likely to identify with characters when the games were realistic and when they felt immersed in the game. These results are also in line with previous theorizing ( Konijn, Marije, Bushman, 7).” Even though they set out to prove the exact opposite of my argument, they have provided undeniable evidence that says otherwise to theirs and is in conjunction with mine. Those with “low educational ability” are more susceptible to relating to these characters that others. This ties back into the parental aspect of my argument which still holds firm. With a strong and positive upbringing there can be no question that those children will turn violent due to video games.

Growing up in this age of technology you can see that some games really do push the limits of horror in terms of their graphic and gory content. However it is for the parents to decide whether or not they want their children to purchase and play these games. Another individual I interviewed was one of my class mates Jean Betances. He said, “Some of my favorite games have a lot to do with fighting but I myself don’t take the aggression I see as anything but a game (Betances par 3).” Jean is basically saying that yes video games are violent however because he was taught to use his common sense to differentiate between fantasy and real life he has no need to bring any of the violence portrayed in the games into the real world. He also goes on to say that, “I started playing video games when I moved here and realized that it was a way for me to make friends easily, and I think that a lot of kids today do the same (Betances par 4).” Children today use video games as a medium to make friends not as a way to take out frustration. If that were the case the billions of people playing these online first person shooting games would all be delinquents of some form.

Yes, there are those who claim that it is the video games that have made their child into an non empathetic person who borders on the sociopathic. To be fair there are such anomalies in the world, children who take the video games they play too seriously and act as though they are a character in it. Over the years this subject has been heavily debated and at one point in time thought to be correct. A large majority of the people whose children committed crimes did say that it was the video games that caused their child to do so. They claimed that the violent images and story lines made their kids feel like it was okay to act in the manner that they did to solve their problems. Some are even presented with the evidence that many notable researchers had collected and refuse to accept it. The fact of the matter is that you can argue all you want but the evidence as it stands today shows that it is not video games that are causing children to be less empathetic towards their fellow man.

To conclude, many people speculate that it is the exposure to violence through video games that has caused children and teens to become more violent. However studies show that the only negative affect these games can produce is ear damage based on the fact that the volume level for these games need to be much higher. Looking forward from this research in the near future I still believe that what has been proven so far about the effects of the games will hold true. However I may be wrong and new studies can emerge disproving my argument. But, if that was to happen I still stand by what I said, if the children are brought up with the right parenting and with common sense, then we as a society do not have to worry about the next generations becoming violent sociopaths. Technology has changed over the years and it has for the better. Entertainment technology has grown to immense proportions but so has scientific technology, once used responsibly, we can achieve great things for the future.

Works Cited

Betances, Jean, Personal Interview. 25 November 2015

Bilton, Nick. “Linking Violent Games to Erosion of Empathy.” The New York Times. (June 16, 2014 Monday ): 908 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 7 Dec 2015.

Konijn, Elly A., Marije Nije Bijvank, and Brad J. Bushman. “I Wish I Were A Warrior: The Role Of Wishful Identification In The Effects Of Violent Video Games On Aggression In Adolescent Boys.” Developmental Psychology 43.4 (2007): 1038-1044. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Tony, Personal interview. 30 November 2015.