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The introduction of desktop computing revolutionized the way people live. The internet, word processing programs, spreadsheets, power point slides, editing of film and more all represented a radical transformation in the manner in which everyday tasks are conducted, especially when computers are linked to cell phones. There is no question that computers have made life much easier in many respect. The American public has never in its history enjoyed greater routine access to information, and no people in human history have experienced the level of connectivity that modern information technologies provide. Reports that used to be handwritten, then typed, with corrections processes involving cumbersome methods, are now easily written and edited on computers. Mathematical computations that used to take hours or longer are now performed nearly instantaneously. All manner of professional and personal activities have been made easier through the use of computers. Computers store millions of pages of data and documents that would otherwise require warehouses to store. The advantages of computers are seen in every facet of life.
The disadvantages of computers are both theoretical and practical. The most significant disadvantage to reliance on computers is their vulnerability to hacking, viruses, denial of service attacks, and other computer crimes. There is a flip side to every coin, and with respect to computers, their enormous capacity for storage of data, including personal information, makes their susceptibility to intrusions and accidents particularly problematic. Entire networks can be brought down to the detrimental of thousands or even millions of people by a single accident or criminal attack.
Another weakness of computers is more philosophical or theoretical, and that involves the question of whether children raised on computers are no longer learning the fundamentals. When hand-held calculators were introduced in the 1970s, many people were concerned that children with such devises would no longer learn how to solve mathematical equations, and whether such a development would diminish future generations’ abilities to perform the kind of engineering and innovations that created calculators and computers in the first place. Enough time has passed to suggest that his is not a valid concern, but the longer-term ramifications of reliance on computers are yet to be determined.
Finally, some people have expressed concerns regarding the long-term effects on society of reliance on computers for communications. In effect, are teenagers playing computer games and texting missing out on the crucial aspect of childhood development that involves socialization? Again, early indications suggest such concerns may be unwarranted, but a very real and very serious problem that does exist concerns the anonymity that computers provide to pedophiles and bullies who use computers and cell phones to taunt and humiliate their targets. This problem can be considered perhaps the most pernicious ramification of the extent to which computers have become an integral part of our lives.
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