The Rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is giving birth to several questions relating to its negative and positive effects on society. ICT has an amazing ability (Brian Carolan, p 8, 2001) to provide people unlimited opportunities to enjoy and gain benefits in different fields of ITC. There are many ways in which ICT is affecting the people and society. People are witnessing the developments and innovation in different ICT fields like computers and the internet, telecommunications and mobile telephone, mass media, travelling facilities and many more. There are so many benefits associated with ICT but at the same time, there are many harmful effects that are caused by the ICT in society.
ICT has a lot to do with human development. It not only serves the society as a whole but also tends to improve and develop the individual position of the people. There are several aspects of human and social lives that are facing the ICT effects. ICT developments are reshaping the cultural values of societies (Brian Carolan, p 8, 2001). ICT do a lot of beneficial functions for the mental growth of humans. It facilitates the people to communicate in better ways, develop good understandings about different things and have deep knowledge and instant information about the events occurring in any part of the world. As the ICT is continuously having more and more impacts on every aspect of human life it is not very easy to trace the impacts of ITC on societies. The advancement in ICT is having its impact on the daily lives, everyday activities, social interactions, business dealings, and academic activities and working capabilities of people. We can have a look at the beneficial and harmful social impact of ITC in the following different areas.
ICT Affects Schooling and Learning Process
The revolutions in the field of ICT are enhancing the learning capabilities of the students. Through computers and the internet the students are polishing their skills and it becomes easy for them to acquire knowledge and come to know much more about any topic of their interest through the internet. The students get intellectual and motivational advantages of one-on-one tutoring through the interesting computer-based programs and such program are mostly available at an affordable process (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994). However many people related to the schooling system have dissatisfactions among them with regard to the increasing use of computers and internet by the students. People argue that for successful schooling it is essential that the students remain attached with an arranged “set of cultural content delivered through a narrowly defined curriculum” (Brian Carolan, p 8, 2001) delivered to students by their instructors or teachers but with the advanced ICT one can have comprehensive knowledge in any field without the seeking the interpersonal contacts. In this way, there is a decline of a typical traditional learning system in which both students and teachers collaborate with each other for the learning and teaching process. The ICT awash the academic culture in words and now it is aching for new outlets (Randy Bass, n.p., n.d.)
ICT and Consumer Behaviour
People around the worlds are much more affected by the information delivered through the mass media, internet, mobiles and publications. This advancement has accounted for a change in consumer behaviour because apart from the traditional methods of marketing, people can be approached through the latest technological devices. Technological advancement has made the process of consumption easier for both consumers and advertisers. The people can get hold of the information about any product or service available in any part of the world, through different search engines, blogs, radio and TV advertisements and print media ads (Lumin Collaborative Survey, n.p., 2007). On the other hand, the marketing and advertising companies can inform people about their product and services through telemarketing, emails, publications and electronic advertisements. But there are opponent views that argue that the ICT is providing unnecessary access to the marketing people and the general public receives unwanted emails, messages and calls from them. This is causing time wastage for them and sometimes people are also misguided by the marketing techniques and they make wring decisions.
ICT and Indigenous People
The impacts of ICT are not only for the general public but it is creating some special effects on the native peoples of every society. The people who live in a diverse culture society often have fear their cultural values might be diminished and overcome by the other’s culture however the introduction of new technologies has changed their lives dramatically and they can now participate in the larger societies and economies around them (AJ Johnson, n.p., n.d) The communication and computer-based technologies are allowing them to preserve their culture so that their next generation can trace the cultural prints of their insisters. On the other hands if such people get more exposure there is a chance that the minorities will not get enough room to develop and groom their social and cultural values.
ICT and Personal Grooming
ICT can amplify the individual’s abilities in amazing ways (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994). Now people can think about working and exploring the fields which were impossible for them fifty years ago. The advancement in the ACT has provided them unlimited opportunities for enhancing their knowledge and exploring new ways. Computer-based technologies are proving people with many powerful and flexible devices at very low cost that’s why there is a continuous increase in the number of people who are getting linked with ICT to fulfil their diverse needs. This situation is leading towards a decline in physical interpersonal interaction between people because when a person spends more time with a mobile or computer, he will get little time to look around him and communicate with people who are physically present near him.
ICT and Communication
Mobile phones and the internet are providing people with faster ways to communicate with people all around the world and bring people closer (Wesley Cooper, 1995). The further advancement is also lowering down the cost of communication and the people can keep them in touch with people from another part of the world at very low cost. The technologies like mobiles phones and the internet are allowing people to contact others from anywhere at any time but many people spend inevitable time in these activities and they often neglect their physical surroundings (Wesley Cooper, 1995). It has been observed that there are many people especially under 30 years old who used to spend a big portion of their time talking with those people or friends who are not present with them, at the expense of those who are actually there (Walter J. Fox, Jr., 1999).
ICT and Business
The ICT development is also promoting business activities at a high level. The ICT is performing well in the economic sector. The ICT devices like computers, the internet and other tools are proved to be cost-saving, efficient and productive for business people (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994). With the latest ICT tools, it becomes easy for business people are expanding their business across the world. The maintenance of database and record-keeping also become convenient for them. With the development of ICT, E-commerce is benefiting the middle man and allows direct trade with consumers as a result the consumer can get a lower price for several products (Jason Pontin, n.p., n.d.), however, a harmful effect of ICT in the business field is that it minimizes the human role in several business operations. As a result, there is a decline in career opportunities for clerks and another professional who manually do the work which is now possible through computer within a short time period. This situation has led to the increase in unemployment and ICT is charged for creating a “hollow economy” with fewer jobs overall (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994).
ICT and Health Conditions
On one hand, ICT is benefiting the humans with the advancement in healthcare facilities and on the other hand the devices of ICT like mobile phones and computers are affecting the health of the general public through low-level radiation, noise and repetitive strain injuries (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994). As a result of frequent cellular phone usage, a certain type of electromagnetic fields is generated that affects the human brain and can cause short term memory loss among them. (Telecom99, n.p., n.d.) It proves that more use of ICT devices can harm the overall health conditions of societies.
Need for Further Development and Limiting ICT
People from every field are getting involved with different devices of ICT and it is very important to monitor the broad changes that are occurring across all the disciplines and areas of ICT (Randy Bass, n.p., n.d.). Many technologists, scientists, journalists, managers, and other professionals (Rob Kling, n.p., 1994) are engaged in their works with the help of ICT. They are enjoying several benefits from the system however the disadvantages could not be overlooked. Despite all the harmful effects, the world is now much involved in their business by using the ICT that it is not possible to limit the working or functions of ICT. In fact, in many fields, there is still a need for further enhancement and the scientists are busy working to make ICT more practical, adaptable and affordable for the general public because at present technologies are not equally shared by all people and the rich people are getting more benefits from the system as compared with poor people who don’t have access to the ICT (Jason Pontin, n.p., n.d.).
The growing need and interest of people in ITC do not support the argument that further development in ITC should be stopped. However, the harmful effects of ITC make the point that if the technological advancement continues to capture the attention and interest of people in this way the people might have severe problems related to the loss of social interaction and poor health conditions, but the main question arises from the situation is that, Is it possible to stop the development of ICT? Many scholars believe that it is not possible to resist the tide of technological change and there is no way to stop the development because reasonable numbers of people are benefiting from the system and they want to have more advancement in the technologies rather than its role back.
The development of ICT devices and tools is going on worldwide and there is no possibility that if any check is implemented by the government of one country it will be followed by the people who are working in other parts of the world to enhance the capabilities of ICT. To stop the development is ICT is not a practical approach what could be done is that, the government, health organization and NGOs have to play their roles to create awareness among the public regarding harmful effects that can be caused by excessive usage of technological devices. The business professional also has to give preference to human intelligence rather than relying on computer functions. The people have to realize that the ICT could be beneficial for them only when it is targeted to the needs, interests, ways, desires and limitations of its users (AJ Johnson, n.p., n.d)
- Rob Kling, “Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices,” Section I, Article C, 2nd Ed., Academic Press, 1996
- Andrew Billingsley, “The Impact of Technology on Afro-American Families,” p. 420-425, Vol. 37, 1988
- Brian Carolan, “Technology, Schools and the Decentralization of Culture”, p8, volume 6, First Monday, 2002. Web.
- Randy Bass, “The Impact of American Studies on New Technologies”, n.p., n.d., Georgetown University. Web.
- Wesley Cooper, “Information Technology and Internet Culture,” n.p., n.d., The University of Alberta.
- Findings from Lumin Collaborative Survey, “National Survey Shows Impact of Internet and Social Networks” n.p., n.d.
- Jason Pontin, “Do We “Get” the Social Impact of Tech?” n.p., n.d.
- AJ Johnson, “A New Understanding of Culture and Communication: The Impact of Technology on Indigenous Peoples” n.p., n.d.
- Walter Fox, “The Daily Newspaper and Urban Popular Culture,” n.p., 1999
- Telecom 99, “The Social Impact of Mobile Telephony” n.p., n.d.