Teen Blog: Teenagers and Technology

Sixteen-year-old Ryane Liao talks about the thing most important to her generation: the smart phone

by SHFamily | Wed, March 01, 2017

By Ryane Liao


At sixteen years of age, my nighttime routine is nowhere near as elaborate as a fully developed adult’s. There is no mélange of creams or toner and nothing that contains “lifting” or “age-defying” in its title. What I have is a thirty-five minute block carved out for browsing through Pinterest.

As a millennial living in Shanghai, my survival and well-being is married to whether or not I have my phone. An existence in which I lack my phone is equivalent to hunting down my own food in a forest. Technology has been a fundamental part of my life practically since birth, and I don’t think it was until we started discussing it in my International Baccalaureate French class that I realized how dependent I am on it and just how much it’s a part of my life. But when does a cell phone stop being a tool and start becoming a mania? Could we go 72 hours without once checking WeChat? Probably not.


While many stand by the belief that technology is a phenomenon rooted in modern culture, that will eventually result in the end of face-to-face interaction, people skills, and classic dinner dates, I hold a different opinion.


Culture is a malleable thing. It will move and shift to accommodate the changes of time that bring an equal amount of good and bad. And while real-life one-to-one communication is less prevalent than it used to be, long-distance relationships, the maintenance of friendships despite separations of time and place, and conversations that take place over the course of several days are much more common. I have close friends all over China and across the world that keep in close contact because technology facilitates it! Without free messaging services, we’d probably have much fewer friends; especially since letter-writing sounds like one of the most tedious lost arts in the world. 

But that’s not where it ends. Watching re-runs of “Sex and the City” and seeing Carrie unable to hail a cab while strutting across NYC in her Manolo’s, I’m reminded how fortunate I am to simply pop open an app and call an Uber. Only recently did I also discover that WeChat has a translator, when the kids in math class decided to discuss the test we took...in Korean. That function is nothing short of life-saving for us expats.


Having lived all my life in the digital age, I may be biased. But even with the detriments of technology – shoutout to the teens that spell “because” like “cuz” and couples in restaurants texting each other from across the table – an incredible amount of good has come from it, enabling the life we have today. So the next time my mom tells me to “get off my phone” I’ll tell her that I keep it on hand 24 hours a day, not for pleasure but for security reasons, and I’d advise her to do the same.