Today’s technology is advancing faster than ever. As tongue-in-cheek depictions of flying cars and robots move closer and closer to reality, we see evidence all around us of technology’s influence and advancement in ways that directly affect our lives. But some people are wary of technology’s increasing ubiquity. Is the quick rate of technological advancement and adoption actually a good thing? Could it become dangerous down the line?
This is a complex question and requires a good look at technological trends to help us predict where this trajectory might lead us in the future.
One of the most significant technological shifts in the last half-century has been the advent and widespread adoption of smartphones. Fifty years ago, the idea that virtually every single human on the planet could own a device small enough to fit in a pocket yet powerful enough to make the wide expanses of the internet available in an instant was laughable. And yet that’s exactly the state of the world, a reality that has fundamentally changed huge parts of the way we live our lives.
In 2020, over 50% of American adults reported that internet access is essential for their livelihoods. Teenagers clock in an average of 7 hours per day on their phones according to some estimates. An estimated 90% of the world’s population uses a smartphone daily.
These numbers obviously represent significant smartphone usage. It also represents something that’s not talked about as much as it probably should be: smartphone and technology addiction. Smartphone addiction can cause several negative effects that compromise normal life for huge numbers of people. It can significantly dampen quality of life, mental health, and more.
As we continue to study the effects of smartphone usage on our personhoods and populations, we will get better insight on how such fundamental changes in our behavior will affect us in the long-term. It will likely be a bittersweet awakening, as we are even now beginning to discover.
In addition to the effects that prolonged and heavy smartphone usage have on our individual health and well-being, the nature of smartphones themselves create significant implications. Smartphones are uniquely powerful devices. Their internet connectivity, capacity for GPS and locational tracking, hardware capabilities that allow things like audio, picture, and video capture, and more all mean that smartphones can be used to accomplish an incredible number of tasks.
However, these functionalities are manipulatable. Instances of hacking, monitoring, tracking, and invasion of privacy through usurping private smartphones have already been identified around the world at varying degrees, scales, and severity. Governments, private corporations, and cyber criminals can use smartphones to accomplish a number of insidious things that can harm or endanger ordinary people. These stories will continue to surface. We must be aware of the powerful tool we carry in our pockets and how possible it is for others to hack or compromise it.
Internet of Things
Another emerging trend within technology is the Internet of Things (IoT). This refers to adding technological or connection capabilities to traditionally inert objects. From smart-home technology that allows you to answer the door from your phone regardless of your location to remotely connecting to your car, the IoT is a quickly expanding field with huge possibilities. IoT technology can offer huge benefits. The convenience of being able to manipulate items in your home or keeping better tabs on the security of your property is a huge selling point for the countless consumers taking advantage of these technological offerings.
However, just like smartphones, IoT technology is exploitable and creates new possibilities for harm, damage, theft, manipulation, hacking, and more. When elements of your home, car, or other items are all controllable over the internet, these systems are breachable. Along with the advances come heightened risks.
Device Usage for Children
Another technological trend that is changing rapidly is the amount of technology being used and implemented for children. The COVID-19 epidemic that began in 2020 had overwhelming effects on the lives of virtually every person on the planet – it expedited the necessity and use of technology in many respects, notably within education. However, technology usage was already increasing for even young children even before COVID-19 made its way onto the scene. Children, even infants, are also estimated to spend up to 7 hours a day on screens.
Psychologists, child development specialists, teachers, medical professionals, and more are expressing serious concern over children’s heavy average technology use.
That technology usage can have serious negative impacts on children. These can include impairing the normal development of social skills, physical and physiological effects such as harmed eyesight and lessened sleep quality, diminished amounts of physical activity and exercise, and more. Children as young as 1 year old often master technological skills like manipulating iPads but struggle with basic motor functions, fundamental social skills and cues, and more.
Though attention to these realities is rising and beginning to reach wider audiences, the change has been so rapid that we probably won’t be aware of many long-term effects until it’s too late for current generations of children to curb technological use in masse.
Increasing Digitization of Information
Another technological trend taking the world by storm is the vast increase in digitization across several arenas, industries, and economies. Cryptocurrencies and internet banking have moved much of the world’s financial transactions completely online into virtual and digital realms. From taxation to personal identification to health industry information systems, official information and documentation increasingly exist in exclusively digital spaces as well. Personal information and records are stored digitally by more people than ever before. As with just about anything, these systems afford both benefits and drawbacks.
While digital information and processes can in some ways be more accessible, convenient, and secure, they are also more susceptible to different problems – breaches, hacking, misuse, and more.
Technology’s advances have made unprecedented things possible. They’ve revolutionized healthcare, education, business, global connectivity, and transportation. But while technology can help us accomplish things we couldn’t have done before, it comes at a high cost. We must tread carefully into the coming decades and very seriously evaluate technology’s effects on us, both positive and negative, to avoid what could become significant problems in the future.
Play Image from Pixabay
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.