As I was growing up, so began the era of computers. Of course I learnt how to use them at secondary school, they didn’t exist in primary back then, and as I grew so did the use of computer generation X.
I am the first to admit that I really only used the Commodore 64 to play games on at home, Mr Wimpy, one of my faves, a must to play every weekend, competing with my brother to reach level after level. Another favourite of ours was the infamous Donkey Kong.
Once I left school, life took over and the only real place that I used a computer was at work. At home, and I played only if with my boyfriend at the time, it was the age of consoles. We had moved on from the Atari and it was now Sega with Sonic the Hedgehog racing to collect the golden rings.
Up until this point the internet was not widely used by the public and as I was enjoying life too much it held no real interest to me. In fact unless I needed to search something at work (which was rare), I felt I had no real use for it at all.
This all changed when my family arrived and once the children began school, things changed. Of course nowadays computers are available to use in Nursery right through till they leave school. My children are from Generation Z and will be thought of as the sophisticated technological generation who are internet savvy. I now had a lot to learn!!!
So I took an ICT course at the primary school my children attended, learnt how to understand the keys and formats of various programs on the computer. This in itself aided me to support my children with homework and various other projects. Of course I still had no real clue about the internet and how to use it with full potential. Even now I am still learning and from my children who understand it naturally like water off a duck’s back.
After a few years of growing in confidence, I was able to help my children search information, I could buy online, do my banking and so on, however I was still yet to enter the world of social media.
For many years I berated the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bebo and so on, saying that the youngsters of today were not able to socialise face to face very well and that society would lose the ability for physical contact in communication. I still believe that this could lead to the downfall of Generation Z.
However, I was soon to join the masses as through my BSL course, in order to support each other’s learning, it was suggested that a group was set up on Facebook. Imagine my horror. Still after a couple of months I crumbled and agreed to set up an account and join the group.
So, for the first year I kept it purely to do coursework and supporting and nothing more. However with something as nationwide and sporadically placed as BSL, I found as I went up the levels, I started to branch out and look for more support with my learning. I also used it to find social clubs, events and groups of varying nature hence my entrance to The Treehouse.
To conclude my history and begin answering the question, of course the internet has changed my life. In respect of having such a busy life, I can do my shopping or banking online. I am able to research for topics of interest, learn things I never knew before, and support my children’s education and so much more. Through social networking I have talked with some diverse people, had some interesting and occasionally heated debates and made some new chat buddies who have similar interests or goals in life.
As a deaf person, has the internet changed my life? I do not feel it has drastically changed my life any more than the average person however I can see how social media networks is a huge change for those that are lonely, isolated for whatever reasons and not necessarily just for deaf people. For those that already have a healthy outdoors life, I see them sharing and continuing to enjoy. Then there are those that are in between who have a life before the internet and have become lazy through its addictive nature, which is possibly the biggest con of them all.
The pros are that it is a diverse piece of technology on tap, for those that have it; it can help you to find information worldwide and meet people from all over. However, I still feel as a member of Generation X it is our responsibility to ensure that those from Generation Y and now Z learn that the world they see on the screen is also alive and kicking outside their front door, and sometimes they need to step out into the bright sunlight and embrace nature’s natural way of learning too.