Has Technology Helped or Hindered the American Society?

Published: 2019-12-09 07:30:00
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The growth of technologies capable of surmounting some of the challenges impeding human endeavors, such as time constraints, brought the prospect of tremendous societal progress; these technologies had immense potential to enhance, among others, peoples appreciation of cultures different from theirs, the strength of the relations within families, effectiveness of interpersonal communication, and peoples social adeptness. There is no doubt that people have managed to harness the potential of technology in improving diverse aspects of their endeavors. Despite the beneficial aspects of technology, we have to acknowledge that in some ways, it has created hindrances in the society. Technology users have experienced more distraction, stress and isolation than they did before the use of technology became pervasive. This paper assesses how technology has hindered or helped the American society.

The number of relationships the typical technology user is involved in today is much higher than it used to be three decades ago, yet the qualitative aspects of these relationships have deteriorated over time. Technology has redefined what constitutes social norms and behavior. The radical changes in the nature of social engagement as a result of technological advancement has made it imperative to reconsider what is deemed appropriate social behavior- this is especially so when we consider interactions taking place on digital/virtual platforms. While advancement in technology has led to the emergence of a new social reality, many people have not thought about the implications of the new realities for individuals and societies. Technologies with a profound impact on peoples social lives and skills include, but are not limited to, communication tools, sites for social networking and virtual communities. One survey established that only 15% percent of undergraduate students did not use social networking sites (Tandoc, Ferrucci and Duffy 143); of those who used the sites, the use was frequent- up to 90% indicated that they used the sites on a daily basis. In addition, according to the survey findings, the use of social networking sites was growing annually. The frequent use of social networking sites has positive as well as negative consequences. Social networking sites enable people to find long-lost friends, facilitating their reconnection. With people increasingly becoming mobile and geographical separation occurring among close people, social networking sites help keep them in touch. On the flip side, frequent users of social networking sites have become internet addicts. It has been established that some learners constantly use their mobile phones while class sessions are in progress (Best, Manktelow and Taylor 31), which has been detrimental to their attention spans, and ultimately, their academic performance deteriorates. Besides the negative effects of frequent social-networking site use on students performance, the perception that physical meetings are unimportant has affected peoples social skills. There has been an increase in cases of bullying on the internet and social media networks. It is common to find students using pseudo accounts to make anonymous remarks about their dislike for a particular individual, or insulting and slurring them with the aim of bringing them down emotionally.

Studies have shown that as much as 75% of teenagers are regular users of cellular communication devices, which represents a 45% increase over the last decade: at least 30% of these teenagers send a minimum of 90 text messages within a single day, which exemplifies the gloomy prospect of technology replacing physical interactions. Although the use of texting to communicate has an adverse impact on social skills, it has enhanced the effectiveness and convenience of communication (Best, Manktelow and Taylor 33). Technology has also simplified learning; technological devices such as computers have improved classrooms and the learning environment. Learners no longer have to carry large volumes of paper as some mobile devices can hold several documents and books. Technological advances have gone a long way in enhancing the productivity of the time that students spend out of the instructional facilities. For instance, availing reading assignments through the internet has increased the convenience of self-study for students. Through e-mail, students can communicate more effectively with the faculty, as well as with their peers with whom they are engaged in collaborative group projects. We have also seen enhancements in the coverage and quality of instruction in distance learning in ways that were never possible before advances in technology; it is possible to combine text with audio/video, just as real time student interactions can occur through discussion forums. These technological developments are particularly important for societal progress when we consider the fact that there has been an increase in the demand for skill enhancement by people unable to train through traditional models because of constraints from work, and the need to maintain good family relations (Joo, Lim and Park 979). With modern economies tending to have a high reliance on knowledge and technology, it is important that people possess advanced skills and expertise. In addition, the continuous development in technology has necessitated skills upgrade to enable workers in various industries maintain productivity. To help the modern workforce attain its lifelong learning goals, the traditional learning systems have to undergo reinforcement and adaptation. The rising demand for skills upgrade is related to the entire range of contemporary technology, with modern information technologies having the unique capability to provide mechanisms of meeting this demand. Internet-enabled online training encompasses many aspects, including the access to courses where learning is self-directed, and classrooms that are entirely electronic.

The internet-based training programmes are more flexible when we consider the acquisition of skills, and they rank higher in terms of affordability and relevance compared to traditional approaches such as seminars. Besides enhancing the convenience of lifelong learning, technology has improved workers productivity. Individuals can collaborate on work tasks that involve many actors who rarely have physical meetings. When peers across organizational departments share information and coordinate work activities, there is an enhancement in their relations. With the increasing utilization of e-mail in workplace communication, it becomes possible to reduce the communication barriers that typically define various status levels, which removes the inhibitions in the how senior employees communicate with their subordinates. There has been a reduction in the significance of distance following the application of communication technologies in commercial settings, which has favored telecommuting and brought implications for the patterns describing peoples residential decisions (Murthy). As workers realize that it is possible to work from their homes, instead of the traditional centralized workplace, there has been a surge in the demand for residential facilities located in areas with appealing physical and climate aspects. Indeed, profound consequences have been witnessed as employment shifts from suburbs to remote regions. Properties have become more expensive in the popular destinations, while the suburbs have seen a drastic fall in property values. Considering that most telecommuters tend to have a higher educational attainment and income than the average citizen does, the remote regions that they prefer for residence have recorded increased demand for services consumed by people with high income and societal status, such as gourmet restaurants. Besides, the expansion of the market for other services has created more job opportunities for local communities. Widespread telecommuting has resulted in a reduction in the fixed costs related to employment, making it easy for people to use flexible working schedules, work on a part-time basis, share work engagements, and engage in more than one form of employment simultaneously (Joo, Lim and Park 976). Telecommuting has increased job mobility and ensured quick career advancement because people can change employers without changing where they reside. Ultimately, with higher employment flexibility, people experience less job stress and become more satisfied with their jobs. When we consider the fact that job stress comprises one of the factors influencing individuals health, reduced job stress contributes to lower expenditures on health.

However, as technologies expand the range of tasks that workers are expected to perform, as well as the requisite skills set needed to perform these tasks effectively, they are likely to enhance the speed of work and increase stress levels and time pressures facing the workers. More importantly, a contemporary question concerns the possible effect of computers and modern communication technologies on employment. Computers can carry out routine activities such as data entry more effectively compared to humans, which creates concerns about the possible replacement of people with computers and communication technologies. Policy makers have addressed these concerns by arguing that even if some workers can possibly be eliminated by the adoption of computer technologies in performing work tasks, the creation of other jobs will occur, especially for computer technicians and specialists. With the creation of as much jobs as those that have been lost, output growth will lead to greater employment, overall; it is highly likely that technology will change the nature of the workers required for various occupations, rather than changing the total employment. The emergence of electronic commerce has also had far-reaching ramifications for various industries, including, among others, goods and services distribution, information and communication technology-especially in the provision of the enabling infrastructure, and content provision-such as entertainment services and software sale. E-commerce has reduced the cost of business operations, with the cost savings enhancing economic performance (Murthy). For instance, e-commerce enables firms to move customer support operations online to facilitate direct access to manuals and databases, which leads to a significant reduction in the costs related to customer service personnel. There are also huge savings in inventory costs resulting from adopting the e-commerce business model, as the speed of ordering for commodities and their delivery to customers makes it unnecessary to maintain large inventories. Through e-commerce, business enterprises have been able to access new markets, just as they have managed to extend the reach of traditional markets beyond local borders: this has resulted in output growth and the creation of job opportunities (The Huffington Post). The socio-economic benefit of e-commerce is larger when we consider how the activities that e-commerce affects are interlinked. When money is spent on intermediate products related to e-commerce, there is indirect creation of jobs based on how the electronic transaction volumes affect commodity prices, production costs and workers productivity. As the technologies related to computing, telecommunication and the media converge, a new integration in the supply chain has emerged, which makes it possible to produce and deliver content in information and multimedia. Organizational change, technology and trade have interacted to create and destroy jobs, leading to changes in the composition of employment skills and low costs of distributing content.

While new models of distributing content reduce the attendant costs and expenses, they create opport...


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