Jul 24, 2019 in Exploratory

How Technology is changing the Structure of Society and the Functioning of the Individual

Introduction

It is no doubt that technology has tremendously affected how people live in modern society. The greatest influence of technology has been perhaps making effective most manual process in modern day. However, the type and level of technology on the modern society is an area that still requires extensive analysis. This need is taken under the consideration that while technology has had a positive influence on the society, there are major shortcomings at both the personal and societal level as a result of technology usage. A multi-disciplinary in relation to the effects of technology reveal that there has been a positive impact on almost all the sectors including economic influence, political influence and scion-cultural influence. Sectors like the education sector have greatly benefited from the use of technology.

It is now possible for students to access basic education at their convenience unlike in previous years where physical; presence was required. However, the use of technology has greatly affected the social aspect of life and to a greater extent in a negative way. Psychological studies have revealed that while human progress is determined by the level of acceptable change, the pace under which such changes take place greatly affect the implementation part of the change and how the society responds to such changes. It is under this context that this research will analyse the impact of technology in the society and how the increased dependence on technology is likely to affect both the physical and social aspects of life.

Background

As stated by Bijker et al, the changes that have taken place over the years in the field of technology appear to appeal differently to different individuals in the society. This difference is attributed to the fact that different people from various demographic characteristics have different uses for the advances made. A contextual example of such a situation is whereby older people often use technology mainly to enrich their lives through the utilization of technology in making work easier. However, such functions are not limited to the older people in the society but rather; young people also use technology in the successful completion of different task that may otherwise be challenging if done manually. However, the younger generation often use technological devices from a more sociological perspective.

Bijker, further states that while communication devices are used by the older generation to strictly communicate important information related to different issues, younger people use the same devices to stay in touch with their peers and also socialise through the available social media platforms. This example is a case whereby the use of technology is approached in a similar manner but the priority of usage differs based on the pre-existing demographic factors. It is assumed that the world today is living under what is considered as the age of technology where different innovations are made on almost daily basis. More importantly, it is considered important that people across different parts of the world utilize such advances in technology as they often make life easier. The religious interpretation to such advances however is that the advancements made in technology are the cause of the state of moral degradation in the society. This is assumed to have begun happening during the industrial revol8ution where an exponential rate of change was witnessed in the society. The industrial revolution came with major changes that altered the core processes, both physical and cognitive.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology

Enhanced Communication

According to Haythornthwaite, there is no doubt that the changes in technology have led to some major advantages including improving the way of life. From a physical perspective, technology has greatly affected how people communicate. In the past, communicating with an individual from a distant location would have been problematic considering the distance and the existing methods of communication at the time. However, technology eased the process of communication whereby the process has been effective and real time. This has further affected how the said information is relayed. To put this into perspective, it would be expected that in almost every piece of information, there is always an intended time frame for that information to get to the recipient. Under such a consideration, Most of the information communicated in the past was rendered null and void since in most cases, the deadline for such information to be acted upon would have already lapsed. “Currently however, information is relayed by a click of a button either through a computer or even a telephone”. This way, the intended recipient receives the information promptly and can act upon the same without jeopardizing the expected deadline or time frame for execution.

Economic Impact

Almost every business process in the modern world utilizes technology in application. Technology is thus used to make work easier and more effective while at the same time reducing the cost of production. Historically, most businesses used human labour to undertake the various internal operations of the organisation regardless of the sector. However, the current world has changed this approach to labour and machines are used to partake the various organisational task. This approach has been met with equal admiration and criticism in equal measures. “There is no doubt that the use of machines in production is the main reason why the current products and services are of high quality”. This notion is derived from the presumption that machines are faster and more efficient when it comes to production. In addition to this, machines are less likely to make any errors. Human labour on the other hand has over the years been characterized by endless errors in production.

“Of contention in relation to human labour and the use of machines in production is that the system of automating business processes has led to massive loss of employment over the years”. Human labour activists have consistently accused most organisations of trying to reduce the cost of production at the expense of the existing employees. This argument is derived from the existing labour laws that dictate that machines should not phase out the existing workforce and the level of implementation when it comes to technology should only be done under the consideration of the overall effects on human labour. New companies however continue to adopt new technology and the major loopholes in law have allowed for the implementation part of technology use not just in production but in almost every department within an organisation. Despite the increased concerns in terms of the use of technology from an economic perspective, the overall benefits are immense. Nowadays, people spend less time undertaking task that could otherwise take double the time taken were such processes manual.

Disadvantages

Loss of Touch with Reality

While advances in technology can be said to have a substantive influence on major life processes, one of the most affected areas is interaction. This interaction is the level and form of interaction that people experience on daily basis. Compared to previous years, technology is slowly driving the world to become one big community without any form of unique characterization. The various platforms such as the internet allow for people to interact while at different geographical areas. It was unheard of that a person from a different continent could communicate with a friend from a different continent and still maintain the same social relationship. As stated by O’Keeffe and Kathleen, the form of interaction and socialisation that occur on social media platforms has been touted by analysts as one of the major development in social interaction. While such form of interactions leads to globalisation which is a good thing, it has greatly affected the physical aspect of interaction.

Slowly, the concept of meeting up with someone is slowly fading and the physical relationship is slowly being replaced by virtual presence. Psychologists have warned that while globalisation and the use of social media has increased the level of socialisation across the world, such interaction lacks the aspect of being realistic. This assumption is derived from the opinion and sometimes in practice that some of the virtual profiles of individuals are not even real. It is so easy for a person to create a fake profile and use the same to portray his or her real identity. However, the truth of the matter is that there are cases where such impersonation and online deceit has had major implications in terms of the relationships made though platforms such as social media. This by extension shows the reason why the internet is often criticised for the increasing cases of identity theft, cyber bullying and online insecurity.

 

Increased Cyber-Crime Activities

Cybercrime is slowly evolving to become one of the greatest challenges facing the modern day world. To put this into perspective, cybercrime involves the various activities that are undertaken within the internet platform and which otherwise jeopardize the security of information that is mostly on the web. Tufekci, say that cyber-crime is on the increase because the advances in technology were made too fast without the proper security guidelines being adhered to. One of the most common phenomenons in relation to this challenge is that most online sites that require private information have a security settings platform but most users are not aware of how such functions are supposed to be used to enhance cyber security. This implies that when such users share private information on the web, such information has the ability of being used for other purposes other than the intend purpose. In addition, such information is accessible to third parties who are also changing the level of sophistication in which to acquire sensitive data. So evolved is the criminal activities that some sites have cookies that redirect a user to a different web location which is similar to the intended location. However, the web copy often end up being a conduit of loss of private data.

Tufekci further states that another major concern in relation to security is the proactive high level attacks by individual governments when it comes to loss of private data. Over the years, cyber warfare is slowly becoming the new frontier of modern warfare where nations engage each other in cyber theft and other related activities. International security analysts predict that behind the scenes, most nations are in the process of developing software and also offer training to IT specialist to undertake cyber warfare attacks against other nations. Some of the nations that have come under sharp criticism in relation to cybercrime and cyber warfare include Russia and North Korea. Most of the activities carried out involve hacking and phishing of private information through the installation of computer bugs. North Korea for example has consistently been accused by the United States government for what is alleged to be frequent cyber-attacks on U.S banks and other facilities and institutions that store private data. Such attacks are said to be so highly coordinated that some government have invested billions of dollars to develop hacking software used in cyber warfare. It is such advances in the field of technology that have exposed the underbelly of just how technology can be used to advance a selfish agenda or even be used to interfere with international security.

The Sociological Impact of Technology on Teenagers

Perhaps some of the most affected people when it comes to the technological influences in the modern day society are teenagers. Young people of ages as low as 10 years are increasingly using technological devices to undertake various processes. However, there are some serious concerns regarding the level of exposure in relation to technology that an individual should have. While adults can be said to exercise some level of discretion when it comes to what they are exposed to on using devices such a TV, the internet and social media, teenagers and by extension young adults may lack the control and the discretion that is required to make rational decisions. The face value of this situation points out to the possibility that the effects might to be detrimental. Kaplan and Michael state that numerous studies have revealed that indeed the effect of technology on teenagers is far much extensive than on any other group. Teenagers are affected by technology in terms of;

Isolation

Numerous studies have established a worrying trend where cases of isolation are on the increase particularly among teenagers. However, of importance to note is that the said isolation is not contextualized on being alone but rather, spending so much time on technological devices and shunning the physical aspect of life. The reason why there are physical games where in some institutions, such games are mandatory, the scenario is because students nowadays are slowly turning to online games instead of engaging in physical education. Even more worrying is the use of entertainment gadgets such as TVs and video games. Such devices encourage isolation where a person might prefer solely engaging in such activities instead of the physical interaction with the outside world. According to O’keeffe and Kathleen, not only is the said isolation affecting the health of children nowadays due to lack of exercise but, the same is causing people to lose touch with reality.

Misguided Priorities

The level of information on the internet is tremendous. The information that is found on the internet is very helpful because it helps not only students but almost anyone in the society access any form of information whenever required. However, it is said that too much information can be dangerous. The situation as it is such that some of the information found online only causes more confusion and give the wrong impression about different things in life. For example, it is common knowledge that the real heroes in life are the people who dedicate their lives to helping others in the society. This is what most people have been brought up knowing. However, most of the information portrayed on the internet and social media appear to insinuate that fame is more important than any other thing in the world. This explains why most people will go to under any length to achieve such fame. Such fame in most cases occur as a result of conducting oneself in a particular manner that is likely to raise attention. However, the main issue under this context is whether such fame is really necessary and worth it. Trying to explain to a teenager that there are more important things in life than fame is proving to be a difficult time and it is only a matter of time before the moral principles and guidelines that most parents taught their children are abandoned for more trivial issues to life such as material wealth and fame.

Cyber Security and Moral Degradation

It is a common phenomenon to see some people in the society trying to emulate other in complete disregard of whether such a practice is appropriate or not. Currently, what is commonly observed is that teenagers are slowly shifting their focus from the people that they often looked up to. In addition to this, the use of social media continues to expose children to obscene content that is inappropriate for persons under a certain age bracket. O’Keeffee and Kathleen state that most social media platforms lack the correct security measures to ensure that the people who access the said social media sites are people of legal age. On the other hand, parents are less apprehensive about monitoring their children and what they do on the internet. What most parents don’t know is that at times, children often use the opportunity to access material that is not appropriate. In addition, such children maybe victims of other internet related crimes such as hacking, identity theft and solicitation of sexual favours. What is more worrying is that both children and teenagers are in no or lower capacity to judge how to handle the situation.  This means that some of the ills found online might go for a long time before being discovered and may only do so when the damage has already been done.

Future Recommendations

The application of technology and the advances made are based on the presumption that technology will continue to enrich the lives of the people and that of the general society. However, this presumption is limited in both theory and practice. Technological advances are seen to alter the balance of life affecting even the strong family ties that create the central social unit. Both personal and social growth continues to be affected depending on the approach one takes to the issue. However, the physical influence of technology has so far been very productive. Technological advances have changed processes, introduced new products and eased the way of doing things. This is only acceptable since it is the main reason why some devices related to technology are introduced into the market. There is the need therefore to draw the line in terms of the application of technology in modern day and minimize the negative impact of technology that has the capability of altering the social aspect of life. In most cases, issues to do with privacy have become a thing of the past. In social media usage has been on a sharp incline over the last few years, people almost post every other detail that happen in their lives. Kaplan and Michael observe that platforms such as Face book and Twitter contain information about a personal the physical location and address and even in some cases the telephone contact.

Conclusion

What most social media users fail to do is to limit the privacy of such information judging by the number of internet users worldwide. If every individual is allowed to access such information, what would prevent a malicious individual to either impersonate of use some private data for personal gain or any other malicious activity? It is under such consideration that the extent under which technological advances should be limited. There are those innovations that created a revolution in the world. However, there are those advances that maybe said to be positive at the moment but are potentially harmful should any modifications be made. It has gotten to a point that even the analysts in different fields cannot predict what will be introduced next. It would have been though that the introduction and development of certain aspect of the internet would be the last technological development which would change the entire industry and the world but then came social media. Now, it is not clear what will be developed after sites such as Face book, Twitter and Instagram. More worrying is that the world cannot predict the expected results of such potential development and what they will do to the society. “In most cases, regulations cannot be said to be at entirety the solution”. This is because, any form of regulation is perceived to be censorship of information particularly pertaining communication and the internet.

There are nations however that limit the level of access of even some social media sites under the consideration that the information being relayed through such platform is not for the greater good and may otherwise do more harm than good. A decision therefore has to be made between safeguarding the wellbeing of the general population and ensuring the freedom of speech and access to information. It is expected that there will be many other technological innovations in the coming years. However, the impact of such innovations will depend on their use and how the said innovations affect the immediate society. Most scholars are concerned that the younger generation especially the teenagers are walking towards a path of self-destruction. This is because while technology is supposed to ease the way of life and other life processes, the same is being misused to an extent that some persons can virtually do anything except spend most of their times on social media and on entertainment gadgets. Even more worrying is that the same people who spend a significant amount of time on technology devices are the same people wh0o use equipment such as washing machines to do laundry. Considering such a scenario, the world is virtually raising robotic beings with no means of physical activity. This begs the question, does technology enrich the lives of the people or is the long-term potential harm of technology surpassing the benefits?

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