By Antonio Echevarria
Last year was hard for all of us. We were ravaged by a pandemic, towns, cities, and countries went on lockdown, fand we were forced to social distance and quarantine. People lost loved ones, people lost their jobs, children couldn’t go to school. Everyone was afraid to see their friends and family. How do we keep going? How do we bounce back? What do we do to get some sense of normalcy? We turn to technology.
With all that we have faced for the past year a half, it has been technology that has given us a sense of normalcy. From our cell phones to our computers and laptops, to even videogames, it is technology that has kept us together. It is technology that keeps us in touch. It is technology that keeps things going. And it is technology that has ultimately brought us all closer together in a time when we all must be so far apart.
This past year, our children almost lost a full year of school. If it were not for remote learning, computers, laptops, iPads and cellphones, our children would have completely lost a year of instruction. I asked some of my children’s friends from school how they dealt with the pandemic, and this is what they had to say. Larry, a third grader from Public School 62 said, “During the pandemic, my mom let me use her phone so I could stay in touch with my friends. She also let me play as many videogames as I wanted because I wanted to play with my friends. I really missed my friends. Oh….and we also used my mom’s phone and an iPad to do my schoolwork and video chat for school.” Larry went on and on about how much he enjoyed playing games and video chatting his friends. If it weren’t for technology, none of that would have been possible.
The same can be said for the teachers and professors teaching our children and college students during the pandemic. Tara Echevarria, a special education teacher in New York for District 75 said, “Technology has help bridge the gap for both remote and hybrid learning. Without computers, and all the technology around us, I don’t know how we’d be able to work, service our communities and service our children.” Mrs. Echevarria also went on to say, “This doesn’t come without its ups and downs. For us as teachers, as well as for our students, there is a bit of a learning curve. We also understand that some children benefit from a more hands-on experience. But we are all working extremely hard to make sure everyone is safe and secure, while giving our all to ensure the children are getting the best learning experience. I wouldn’t see how this could be possible without technology.”
Like Mrs. Echevarria said, “This doesn’t come without its ups and downs.” Technology doesn’t make things perfect. There will be some who argue that technology has created a worse work/life balance during the pandemic due to the fact that we are always connected. Some might say that the boundaries are blurred and that there is no such thing as a sick day now. These are obstacles that we are still learning to overcome and deal with and work around. Our newfound reliance on technology has caused us to be constantly connected. Our cellphones, computers and laptops always have us plugged in and constantly attached to our devices.
This has generated a lot of concern for our overall wellbeing. Some companies like Google, OnePlus and Apple have recognized these struggles and have been working on ways to help us balance our lives a little bit more with the increased reliance on tech. Google has created an app called Digital Wellbeing which focuses on improving our wellbeing by allowing us to disconnect more easily. OnePlus has created apps such as Zen Mode and WellPaper for this very reason. Also, Apple has joined the digital wellbeing bandwagon with their own Digital Wellness apps for iPhones and iPads. With these tech companies creating ways to help you see and recognize your digital habits, you can now take control of your own wellbeing to help balance your life with this new reliance on technology.
Without technology, the world would have fallen apart last year. Things aren’t perfect by any means, but technology has allowed us to stay connected by keeping in touch with our loved ones, friends, and family. It allowed us to do as much as we can with what little we are allowed to do. We are all dealing with so much and technology is at the forefront of this battle.
As time goes on, we are learning more and more about how to deal with this new normal, adjusting as much as we can to deal with this ever-growing changing world. Technology is here to help us. As long as we remain aware of our own wellbeing, we can make the necessary adjustments to balance out our lives as technology keeps us on track.