Internet advances affect driving

By Nichole Seguin

Today’s environment is dominated by technology. From computers to cell phones to iPods, the list is never-ending. A lot of teenagers have decided to put off getting their drivers licenses.

As today’s technology continues to advance, less and less teenagers are getting their licenses once they turn 16, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2008. The study stated that 30.7 percent of 16-year-olds got their licenses compared to the 44.7 percent that did so in 1988.

“Part of the reason I don’t have my license is hesitance, maybe even a phobia,”said Luke Phillips, a junior majoring in communications. “When it all boils down, I feel like it’s my own sheer self-confidence and unwillingness that’s stopping me from getting it.”

While there are various reasons for people to not get their license, some people think that the Internet is what is causing the problem, and having a license is not entirely necessary anymore.

“There really isn’t a need to go out and do stuff anymore,” said Andrew Wahnschaff, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. “Not just the Internet, but technology has given us the ability to connect with people from all over. I can watch a game and text message my friends instead of getting everyone together to watch it as one. It just makes my busy life a hell of a lot easier.”

In other ways, driving a car is practically a necessity, especially in Michigan, where having a car is almost as common as owning a toothbrush.

“We have five cars in my family,” said Nicole Schlagel, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology. “I usually drive about one hour a day during the week, and three hours a day over the weekend. My car is necessary in order to get to my family and friends, and I lug things around that I couldn’t carry if I were walking.”

Other people don’t bother with a vehicle due to economic reasons. Although some say the recession is almost over, gas prices are still climbing, and owning a car is a luxury to some people.

“I get rides to school, and I’m at the whim of other people, as far as when they’re available to take me,” Phillips said. “Although the independence is gone, and that’s the worst part of it.”

For others, the Internet is a haven — a place to find any information you need — and a way to communicate with the people globally, at least to Jeremy Tadros, a freshman majoring in secondary education with a focus in history.

“I probably spend at least six hours on the Internet daily, including Skype and Facebook,” Tadros said. “I think I’m somewhat addicted. I use it to stay connected to my friends.”

For some college students, the Internet is even more of a resource when friends are at colleges all over the world. Computer programs like Skype and the website Facebook give people the ability to talk to anyone without worrying about the long distance or many miles that are in between them.

“My boyfriend Josh and I recently started using Skype a lot more so that we can actually see each other,” said Alyssa Mayer, a sophomore majoring in elementary education.  “I think that it really helps because then it’s almost like he’s sitting there talking to me.”

In a Pew Internet & American Life Project poll that was completed in 2010, 74 percent of people polled use the Internet at least occasionally.

“I still have people over to play video games, but if you have a lot of people it’s sometimes more convenient to do it online,” Tadros said. “I can talk to my friends who have moved away to college or I don’t get to see on a regular basis. For example, I play Xbox LIVE a lot with my cousin who lives in Dearborn.”

The ability to order online has also started to cut the driving costs and need for some people. A good portion of retail stores and even restaurants have made themselves available on the Internet, allowing users to place their orders online and then either have them shipped to their home, or have them ready for pick up.

“Shopping online is something I do often,” said Casey Korzen, a junior majoring in general management.  “Being a busy college student, I find it very convenient. I don’t have to worry about finding the time to get to the store to shop, and this is a lot faster. I especially love having my stuff delivered right to my door.”

The popular movie rental website Netflix has also started to boom recently, according to Netflix stocks, which have gone up 475 percent in the past five years. The website allocates a selection of movies for its subscribers to stream online, and gives them the ability to make a queue that will get shipped to their home.

“I’ve had my Netflix account for a long time,” Wahnschaff said. “My parents originally had the account, but I got my own separate account because it’s convenient. Having the movies delivered to my house and being able to watch them whenever I want online has saved me a lot of time, not to mention a lot of money.”

The Internet has provided many different luxuries for people, and it very well might replace the need for cars in the future.