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When is enough, enough? How technology dependency can affect critical-thinking skills

November 26, 2018

In today’s world, we all rely heavily on technology to get our jobs done. However, when do we become too dependent on software and devices to the point that we can’t make decisions and think for ourselves?

I was recently with my daughter at a drive-thru restaurant. Halfway through my order, the employee said that she couldn’t continue with my order because the system was down. My only option was to get out of the car, park, go inside and start the order process over. So, I opted to go somewhere else.

While I realize some businesses may or may not have policies in place as to how to deal with downed systems and technology, it made me think about how often in today’s world people become too heavily dependent on technology so when those shut down, they can’t think around a solution.

One of my first jobs was working at a Kmart. If the system went down, there was a manual with offline procedures. In such cases, we pulled out the manual and handwrote every UPC code and price and tallied it up.

Organizations should invest more heavily in practical problem-solving skills development so that employees are empowered to think critically and determine what they can do to best serve the customer in these situations.

Think, if your mobile phone, tablet or computer became inaccessible: How would you handle the situation? Could you handle the situation?

Technology is intended to make daily functions easier and more streamlined—not to infiltrate one’s ability to make decisions and think critically on his or her own.

As a technology service provider, it is my duty to provide equipment to customers, show them how to use it and train them properly. However, I also show them practical options on how to work around common situations so that they can continue to run their businesses while working to resolve the issue at hand.

In addition to affecting critical-thinking skills, technology dependency can lead to anxiety, depression and impatience as well as affect our memory, according to multiple sources including the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

 

So, how can you as a business help alleviate the problem?

  • Consider ongoing training and professional development to foster critical thinking.
  • Create a culture that rewards thinking outside of the box rather than just “Googling the answer.”
  • Make problem-solving and brainstorming activities part of your everyday work atmosphere.

 

Make sure that your team is not becoming so dependent on technology that its critical-thinking skills are adversely affected. Remember, there is a fine line between using technology as a tool and letting technology become a crutch.

 

As president of tamburrino, Patrick Tamburrino is committed to understanding his clients’ technology needs and working with them to help develop strategic, effective solutions.

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