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Marco-Tomas Ambrogi-Torres
UNIV 112
9 November 2015

On October 21, 2015, Back to the Future Day – the day that Doc Brown and
Marty McFly blasted into the past – showed us all how different things
were just 30 years ago, and how technology and inventions have progressed,
in ways we predicted and ways we couldn’t have imagined. In McFly’s
own words, “That’s heavy.” Screen-based technology, hereafter referred to
simply as technology, has become a major part of most everyone’s life in
the past 20 years, and its influence is especially prevalent in adolescents
and children. Whether or not this is beneficial or harmful is something that
has been debated time and time again, but there has yet to be a consensus on
the subject. The topic of technology’s effect on development has been poked
and prodded at by psychological research but not much has been changed as a
result of that research. With more in-depth research and analysis, this
information could provide insights on to how to best use technology to
facilitate positive development in youth. Understanding how technology affects
adolescent development can help us understand how to best utilize its
capabilities correctly for children. It is already known that the adolescent
brain is able to adapt itself to its environment, making adolescents and
children the perfect candidates to adopt new technology. Most prevalent
among these technologies is communication technology, which can have both
positive and negative effects on social development. Technology can also be
invaluable in middle and high school classrooms to help facilitate learning,
however there are still other types of technology that can distract from the
learning environment, making it difficult for institutions to really implement
the full scope of technology available. For all these reasons, it is still
unclear if technology is beneficial to child and adolescent development or not.
Technology presents clear advantages and disadvantages to human development,
but there is still a fair amount of gray area and dissenting opinions on
certain matters.

The primary reason why research on technology’s effect on humans is focused
on adolescents and children is due to the way the brain is structured at this
point in life. Adolescence is set apart from other stages of the human life
cycle by a number of behavioral changes, but along with these is the way the
brain is able to adapt in response to changes in its environment. This term is
referred to as “plasticity,” as defined by Jay Geidd, an M.D. working at
the National Institute of Mental Health (101). Humans also have a long period o
time where they are dependent on others for support, making it easy for our
brains to adapt to changing demands as we get older. Speaking from an
evolutionary standpoint, this allowed humans to adapt themselves to be able to
survive in any environment, making humans one of the most adaptable species
(Geidd. 101). This necessity for adaptation early in life can explain why young
people are more involved with newer technologies and can learn to use them
efficiently: Their brains are essentially designed to do just that. After
puberty, the human brain matures by growing more specialized (Geidd. 101). With
brain maturation comes the process of myelination. According to Francis Steen,
a communications studies professor at UCLA, adding a protective casing around
neurons called myelin increases the diameter of the axons, thereby speeding up
neurotransmitter rates (Steen). This process marks the transition to the adult
brain; myelination impedes the growth of new connections in the brain, thus
slowing down the “plasticity” that defines the adolescent brain (Geidd.
101). The “plasticity” of younger brains is what makes children and
adolescents candidates to better adopt changes in technology, and as we grow
older we become less able to adopt these changes. Understanding the biology
behind the adolescent brain makes it clear why adolescents and children are the
early adopters of new technology, and why this technology has the biggest
effect on them.

One of the most widely adopted technologies is screen-based technology used for
communication. According to Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia Greenfield –
professors of psychology at California State University and the University of
California, Los Angeles, respectively – email, text messaging, and instant
Messaging are among the most widely used forms of online communication
technology (120). One main concern among psychologists is the effects that
communication technology has on social development of children and teens. In a
longitudinal study carried out by researchers Robert Kraut, William Scherlis,
Tridas Mukhopadhyay, Jane Manning, and Sara Kiesler at Carnegie Mellon
University, a diverse number of families were given computers and Internet
access in their homes for the first time between the years of 1995 and 1998
(Subrahmanyam et al. 8). In this study, teens and children used their computers
for a number of uses, but mostly their usage patterns concentrated on
communicating with friends outside of school and, after a period of time,
strangers whom they met online (Subrahmanyam et al. 18-19). This shows that
from its inception, the Internet was popular mainly as a form of communication,
as it is today. Whether or not this is a good thing for adolescents is a topic
still debated by psychologists and other experts today.


Culture defines the people you work with and the way you work. One job I
recently left is a completely different culture than the one I took up. I
recently left a restaurant job where the management and some of the other staff
knew each other outside of work and hung out after work was done. The people
who all knew each other were very tight-knit and had a lot of fun with
themselves, but those who weren’t a part of this “circle” were somewhat
excluded. The fact that I had worked there for over a year gave me an edge, and
everyone respected and liked me, but the different types of people and how they
interacted lead to a culture based on friendship and less on professionalism.
By contrast, my new job is a small interior design company run by a family
friend. Knowing her outside of work, I had an idea that she was a very serious,
driven woman, and she brought that to her business too. Everything is about
being professional in her business, from the dress standards to the way we
interact with each other and the people we serve. The culture is very focused
on professionalism and putting the best face forward, and though we have laughs
and can have fun, it’s a much more serious workplace than my last one. A
job’s culture defines how people interact with each other and how they get
work done. Having a good culture for the business environment you are in can
make or break your business. Changing this culture to one that fits the
business and helps it thrive can be an arduous task, but is very important to
ensuring the long-term success of any business.

Organizational culture in and of itself is a difficult thing to grasp. If you
ask anyone in the business world about it, they will all be able to tell you
that a) it exists, and b) it is very important to shaping the behavior of a
company. One thing they won’t be able to give you a straight answer on is
what exactly it is. In understanding organizational culture, it’s important
to know its role within a company. Culture establishes the norms within a
company, i.e. how things are done normally. It also determines the way
individuals within an organization think, feel, and act as a single unit. Thus,
we can see that it is developed by the entire organization: Employees,
leadership, stakeholders, company policy, and individual and shared values all
have a role in shaping culture, among a plethora of other determinants within
a company. Considering many different parts make up organizational culture,
it’s a difficult concept to define within any organization. Culture is
focused on instinct, and it is made up of habits and emotional that people have
made repetitive to the point that they don’t even think about it. Beyond
that, culture is constantly changing within an organization, so it’s harder
still to effectively determine what parts need to be addressed more than others

Since we’ve determined that culture is this big, scary beast that no one has
seen or knows how to define, why would anyone go through the trouble? It seems
as though it’s more difficult to change something you can’t define than it
is to just deal with it. Furthermore, since culture cannot be overhauled by
traditional methods, more nuanced methods are required, taking even more time
and money. Changing a company’s culture may seem difficult in the short-term,
but can provide a host of benefits for the long-term. Engrained within a
company’s culture is an immense amount of emotional energy that can be put
into the business in a positive manner. When a culture is at its worst, people
are unmotivated and don’t want to put all of themselves into the company.
This results in energy being wasted and a decline in productivity. The company
doesn’t receive the full benefits that its employees can bring in this
situation. Consequentially, a company with a positive culture that fosters
employee engagement receive boundless success as the employees dedicate
themselves to their work and have a desire to do their best. Research has shown
that companies which committed to using informal approaches to drive their
culture into a new direction were significantly more likely to see positive
change that lasted. 70% of firms who effectively used elements of informal
cultural change experienced “sustainable improvement in organizational pride
and emotional commitment” (“10 Principles of Culture”). It can be seen
that organizational culture is an emotional aspect to employees, and those who
are emotionally committed to the company they are in can work with the company
to accelerate it in a positive direction.


Da piccolo, ero un bambino contento e obbediente. Non ero molto capriccioso, ma
ho dito le bugie qualche volta. La mia sorella era un po’ viziata, ma non io.
Sono paziente e non piangevo molto. Volevo bene a mia madre, perché solamente
parlavo spagnolo da bambino. Prima di andare alla scuola, la mia mamma me
insegnava spagnolo, così solamente potevo parlare con lei. Oggi ancora, voglio
bene a mi mamma, ma ancora posso parlare inglese. Non penso che avevo paura di
qualche cosa, ma non mi piacevano i ragni.

Di mattina, di lunedì da venerdì, io e i miei fratelli andavamo a scuola. I
nostri genitori ci portavamo a scuola. Andavo a St. Michael’s con la mia
sorella. Mi piacevano studiare scienza e letteratura, ma non ero bravo in
matematica. Le mie insegnanti erano brave, e me aiutavano molte quando ero
bambino. Al weekend, io e i miei fratelli giocavamo insieme, o io andavo a le
case de miei amici. Si il tempo era bello, giocavamo fuori, ma si era brutto,
siamo rimasti dentro.

Di pomeriggio, ritornavamo a casa e il mio fratello sempre faceva i suoi
compiti. Io e la mia sorella giocavamo insieme, fuori o dentro da casa. Anche
giocavo molte con le macchinine, spesso giocavo fuori da casa solo. Di piccoli,
noi non guardavamo la televisione molte. Qualche volta, guardavo Star Trek con
il mio fratello e il mio padre.

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