This generation of teenagers, commonly referred to as the iGen, definitely deserve more credit than we are given. Due to our generation’s access to the internet and social media, we have grown up in a world where all the bad is made known through news and media outlets, and we only see the good things that happen to people via their social media posts. Despite this duality, as a generation we have made strides to stick together and move forward. Teen led protests such as the school walkouts in response to gun violence reached a national level, and student in schools across the world participated in order to make a statement about our issues with gun violence and school safety. Boyan Slat, the founder of “The Ocean Cleanup”, was only a teenager when he noticed the issue of plastic waste in a local lake, and devised a way to clean the water an remove the plastic. He then proceeded made a TED talk on this issue, and got enough funding to move the project forward and attempt to use it to clean up the trash vortexes in the oceans. Teens now and days are motivated to do good, and more and more people are leveraging their voices to speak out and help those in need. Although technology is a mixed bag that has its upsides and downsides, the iGen has used it to try and connect with one another and do what is right for everyone while navigation the confusing mess that is the internet.
The Institute of Digital Media and Child Development provides general advice for parents about how to raise and nurture a child while remaining conscious of the positives and negatives of screen time. This is a research-based organization, and they receive most of their funding from independent donors and grants. They claim to be “…America’s only independent, interdisciplinary research organization devoted to understanding the impact of media and technology on toddlers, adolescents, and children,” and they use this distinction to try to lobby for more research on the effects of screens. They host conferences and talks about the development of adolescences and the effect of screens on this process, and they seem to be in the forefront of the field. There are a multitude of articles on this site, both news and research-based, about the effects of screen time on developing children. This organization most likely provided Screenagers with a large portion of the information that was used in the film, and can be a key player in our own research, as a large portion of the information available about the topic of screens and development can be found here.
E-waste is an issue that plagues our modern society. As the world makes vast technological and societal advances and more products are being made better and cheaper, the means of disposing of outdated technology have not. These waste products are often shipped to less or under-developed nations, where often underpaid and over-worked laborers break down these items for their parts. Bits of silver, gold, copper, iron, lead, and platinum are extracted using acids, heat, and chemical baths, all of which are toxic to the workers, who wear no protective equipment. The plastic components, such as motherboards and circuits, are burned or melted in order to separate the metal components from their plastic shell, and the smoke and residue from this process is extremely toxic to breathe and touch. In addition, the acids and chemicals used in the “recycling” process seep into ground and surface water, the stench of burning plastics fill the air, lead seeps into food and water supplies, and a smog covers the area, coating everything in a film of toxins. Most of these workers have very little, if any protective equipment, and they often consider themselves lucky if they aren’t burned or cut in a working day. Despite these apparent dangers, all these workers receive in return for their efforts are fractions of what the device originally cost, forcing them to continue working in this dangerous job in order to support their families. This process is not sustainable, and we need to do something about this issue, and fast. We need to reduce our e-waste production as a whole and find suitable companies that are willing to break down these discarded bits of tech in safe and humane environment. We need to pay more attention to what we as a society do with our “trash electronics,” and we as a community need to pay more attention to the impacts of our technological world.
Some companies have the capabilities to do this in safer and more regulated environments, and one that collects from our area can be found at: https://www.newtechrecycling.com/e-waste/disposal/NJ_NY_NYC_LI_CT_PA.html