The adoption of technology by ordinary individuals and businesses took a new turn following COVID-19. Shopping, education, banking, and almost every other activity in regular life transitioned to the digital space. As a result, online banking and digital payments skyrocketed. Streaming services saw their revenue jump when cinemas remained closed. Remote workers tripled, with video conferencing apps, particularly Zoom, marking phenomenal growth in their user base.
Despite this rapid adoption of digitization, experts and media still debate its actual impact. Is technology good for society, or is it driving the decline of human existence? The answer to this question demands a more in-depth review.
The Upsides of Technology
The benefits of technological progress are undeniable and evident all around us. They include:
Tech innovations have elevated the quality of life of ordinary citizens in leaps and bounds over the past few decades. They have brought incredible ease, convenience, comfort, and improved performance to every aspect of human life.
From healthcare and education to dating and entertainment, you cannot find an area that digitization has not infiltrated.
Take, for instance, the impact on livelihoods. Tech-related progressions have created a vast amount of new professions, from network engineering to data analytics. They have also introduced significant improvements to existing ones. A good example is the innovations in agriculture. Today, bee vectoring technologies help increase pollination, crop yield, and sustainable farming. And precision agriculture technology allows growers to control costs better and improve efficiency.
Leveling the Playing Field
During the pandemic, zoom-based classrooms became an invaluable solution for educating youngsters as schools shuttered. But online education, which has allowed busy individuals to study at their convenience and access courses offered in other countries or regions, has been steadily rising even before the pandemic. Simply put, online learning, which has made education much more accessible—an important factor for social progression—has also facilitated opportunities like “who lives at this address free search,” providing individuals with the ability to gather information about residents at a specific location. This integration of technology in education has widened horizons and expanded possibilities for learners around the world.
The internet also enables you to instantly find information, from news to products and services. This doesn’t just improve lives. It also creates opportunities and levels the playing field, shifting knowledge-based power from a limited few to the masses.
Take, for instance, insurance price comparison sites. By comparing different offers side-by-side, they allow consumers to make informed decisions. This prevents businesses from exploiting individuals with misleading and inaccurate claims and promises.
Technology has created opportunities in many other areas, elevating lives and advancing economic progress as a result. Digital payments and financial management solutions demonstrate this well. In developing nations, they have been a key driving force in increasing financial inclusion and economic participation.
Tech innovations have been pivotal in improving safety and security. They have provided countless tools to protect you and your family from various threats.
For example, PhoneHistory enables you to reverse search unknown numbers to let you see who calls or messages you. SoSecure provides instant SOS messaging facilities, while Strava is an excellent app for sharing your location with a friend when you run or jog alone.
Your smartphone is perhaps the best tech tool to keep you safe around the clock; You can take photos and videos of suspicious activity, record calls by fraudulent individuals, call 911 even without a SIM card, and find your location when you think you are lost.
Drawbacks of Technology
The benefits of technology adoption certainly seem impressive. But what are the common negative impacts?
Breakdown in Social Connections
Americans spend 7 hours and 4 minutes staring at screens on average each day. For Gen Zs, this number goes up to around 9 hours. Understandably, screen addiction is a major cause of communication breakdown between kids and parents, while both adults and children obsess over their digital devices. The result has been fewer conversations, impaired family relationships, and social isolation.
But parent-child interactions are crucial for kids to learn social and emotional skills and basic values such as respect, empathy, and compassion. Without the opportunity to learn these, there is no telling how the world would look in years to come.
Impaired Mental Health
There are numerous ways the use of technology could take a negative toll on your mental health. Some of the critical effects include:
Almost half of American teenagers have encountered online bullying or harassment. Spreading offensive rumors and name-calling on cyberspace can have a far more damaging impact than schoolyard bullying, with the possibility of reaching a larger audience and causing more permanent harm.
Many people cannot imagine life without their digital devices. But addiction goes much further, making it a very real threat to healthy social functioning. Tech addiction can take numerous forms. Some people are addicted to social media, while others are fixated on gaming. But the outcomes are generally the same and may impact both your mental and physical well-being.
Anxiety and depression
Digitization has exacerbated the risks of anxiety and depression among children and adults alike. Increased peer pressure, competition, and fear of missing out (FOMO) have all become causes of restlessness, frustration, and stress in modern society.
Decreased Control Over Data
The digital space makes it easier to manipulate data. As a result, one of the most alarming outcomes of technology today is the declining control over information.
Here are some of the common threats:
Loss of privacy
You regularly face digital intrusions whenever you use your smartphone, log on to the internet, or check social media. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and many other companies constantly monitor user data. They know what you searched online, purchased from an online retailer, liked on social media, and downloaded onto your smartphone.
Identity theft and financial scams
When connected to the internet, you are essentially linked to the entire world. This makes it easier for scammers and other criminals to target you for their nefarious activities.
Misinformation and disinformation
Distorting data is much easier in cyberspace than in the real world. So, news websites could spread fake news with sensational headlines to increase site visitors. Or influencers can flaunt hoax achievements to boost their online reputation.
Is Technology a Threat or a Boon to Society?
Fortunately, the answer lies in your hands. The reality is that technology could be both a boon and a threat to human existence based on how you apply it.
For instance, you can use digitization to improve communication with instant messaging and real-time video sharing to connect with those living halfway across the world. But with excessive tech use, you could also stifle conversations with those in front of you and experience social isolation.
Similarly, technology could prevent crimes or even accelerate them. The choice is yours. So, take control of your digital life and leverage it for the good of humanity.