When I was a young girl you had to be at home to receive a phone call, have a set of encyclopaedias to do your homework, post letters and wait days for a reply, take your video camera or camera out with you to be able to capture special moments and have your Walkman and cassettes with you to listen to music. It’s almost unbelievable to think that now in 2012 we have a device in our pockets that will allow us to make and receive calls, texts and emails, take videos and pictures and do many other things.
With the changes in modern technology over the years we now really do seem to have the world at our finger tips, the internet can give us almost any information we want in seconds, we can buy almost anything over the net, we can get free music and films, find jobs, places to live and we can keep in contact with friends and family or even meet new people. A recent EU study shows that there are a growing number of Irish adults who use just a mobile phone. The numbers who use just mobile handsets is 35% up 7% since a study at the end of 2009.
The number of Irish households with a computer has jumped 5% in just over a year to 69%, while 66% have internet access up 4% since a study at the end of 2009. The survey showed that 58% of Irish households have access to broadband an increase of 4% over the same previous survey. So this tells us that more and more people are coming into the world of technology. It makes me wonder though, what effects does all this have on society? Is all this new technology a good thing or does it have its bad points? Was life easier when an Apple and a Blackberry were just fruits?
Seeing as the number of people using mobile phones and the internet is growing it is clear that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for people, but the reality is most of us don’t really know enough about where the information we are sending and posting goes and what effects using them has on our health. All the changes in communications technology over the years have had huge effects on our public and private lives. In two clicks on a mobile phone a picture of you looking a bit worse for wear on a night out can end up on the internet for all to see.
With social networking sites boasting massive user numbers, Facebook 901 million and Twitter 555 million we really don’t know where all this information and these pictures we post end up. It’s not just the pictures and information we post that have an effect on our lives, the amount of time spent on these sites is also a big factor. The average Facebook user spends 405 minutes on the site per month and for Twitter users it is 89 minutes per month, so what did we do with this time before?
Do we now steal precious time from other areas of our lives to spend on these sites? People have lost their jobs because of inappropriate emails being sent or certain information that has become visible over sites such as Twitter or Facebook, some people have also lost jobs for looking at certain sites or information on work computers, so communications technology maybe fun and convenient for day to day use, but it can have an adverse effect on our public and private lives.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to mobile phones and the internet. It’s great to be able to shop anywhere in the world at a time that is convenient to us, to be able to avoid queues in the bank by banking on line, get our grocery shopping delivered to our front door and to contact each other immediately regard less of where we are in the world.
There are some disadvantages too, people often use their mobile phones to hide the truth, maybe send a text into their manager at work because they have a hangover and it’s easier for them to lie in a text message than it would be if they had to speak to their manager, a partner having an affair can easily lie about their whereabouts, people wanting to get out of a situation they are in such as a date that’s not going well can stage a false emergency call.
The internet can also be sea of deceit and lies, there are people creating emails that look like they are from your bank to try and get you to hand over personal information, I recently received an email that looked like it was from the inland revenue telling me that I had a tax rebate of ?1287. 76 and to email back my bank details and some other information and they would pay it into my bank, this turned out to be a scam.
It’s very convenient to be able to contact friends and family where ever they are, be it over the internet or using a mobile phone, and to save time in our busy lives by shopping or banking on line but there is also a dark side to modern communication technology. When mobile phones first came out the focus on them was to just keep making them smaller, they then became so small you needed the fingers of a child to be able to use them. Then came computing on the go with laptops and tablets, and now we have the Phablet, this is a word I found on a technology website which is a mix of the words phone and tablet.
Wikipedia’s description of this new word is ‘an informal term for consumer grade touch screen devices that are equal to and greater than 5 inches but less than 7 inches, combining the capabilities of a smart phone and a mini tablet. A Phablet is larger than most smartphones but not large enough to be considered a tablet or a mini tablet. ’ So now instead of having a laptop, phone and another device for books, you can have a Phablet, this device will cater for all your needs and fit into your handbag.
Lots of people have been killed through the use of mobile phones, but they did not have cancer, epilepsy, a heart attack or any of the other illnesses that some say could be caused by mobile phones. They died because of a mobile phone being used while someone was driving, using a phone while you are driving can result in your own death or the death of another. This brought changes to Irish law in 2006 when they made it an offence to drive while holding a mobile phone. The offence is holding a mobile phone and does not require the driver to be making or receiving a call but merely holding the phone.
The internet has also brought about changes in laws, the Data Protection Act was updated in 2003 to keep up with current times. We all give information about ourselves to groups such as Government bodies, banks, insurance companies, medical professionals and telephone companies to use their services or meet certain conditions. Organisations or individuals can also get information about us from other sources. Under data protection law, you have rights regarding the use of these personal details and data controllers have certain responsibilities in how they handle this information.
The Data Protection Act does exactly what is says, it protects the data companies hold on us to prevent them selling it on to other companies to use for advertising and marketing. When you register for something on the internet you often have a box to tick that will say ‘tick to opt in for further information and special offers’ this is deceiving because you presume that you will be getting information and offers from that particular company but that is not always the case often you are agreeing to your information being passed on to other companies.
The internet has also brought about problems with Copyrighting. Copyright gives the authors of original works exclusive right to publish or reproduce those works, and to seek compensation from those who make unauthorised copies or reproductions of those works. You can copyright original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, music, films, broadcasts, TV programs, the typographical arrangement of published editions, computer programs and original databases.
In 2009 Eircom fought against the illegal down loading of music by implementing a 3 strikes and you’re out rule, so any customers that where caught doing so would have their internet connection cut off for 12 months. Since then the European Courts have ruled that monitoring web users at the behest of copyright holders was an infringement on their right to privacy. The music industry can continue to look for people who are uploading music and take action against them, rather than looking for service providers to do their work for them.
So the updates in communication technology have called for updates in our laws and this will continue to happen as there is an on going need for it. They still need to look into the area of cyber bulling, at present there are only guidelines and no laws put in place and there are children taking their lives all over the world because of the cruel treatment they are receiving from bullying over the internet and mobile phones. Mobile phones and the internet have affected many areas of our lives in good and bad ways.
How will we view mobiles in years’ to come? Will we see them as a miracle that has benefited our lives or like cigarettes will they be a hazard we didn’t anticipate? Only time will tell. There is no doubt that both mobiles and the internet are very convenient, but I like to have a chat with the woman at the check out when I’m getting my shopping and to try on clothes before I buy them so I will continue to shop in the shops not over the net.
I like to read from paper in books not off of e readers so I will not be rushing out to buy a Phablet, but I will admit I am the owner of a Smartphone which I use for all the usual stuff and also Facebook, Twitter, BBM, internet and emails. As I’m writing this I am shocked to see the word Smartphone is already recognised by my computer and not coming up on spellcheck. This is another sign of how fast technology is moving, maybe by 2013 the word Phablet will be recognised on here too.