What are the advantages and disadvantages of communication technology ?

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educatingourfuture | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Imagine you're walking through the woods alone and you fall down and hurt yourself. You can't get up, let alone walk the 5 miles to get to your home.

Oh, and - by the way - it's the year 1721. 

If you didn't know the year, you'd probably be thinking about pulling out your cell phone, assuming you have reception.

Think about the difference that a communication technology makes in this circumstance. It's really easy to see the advantages of better technology.

Now imagine you're working in a 1950's office building as a journalist. You need to research a news story about the latest crime in your city. You can pick up the phone to contact others to verify facts, but if the person is unavailable, you will have to wait for their response. There is no such thing as email yet.  At about 6pm, you decide to head home since there's not much more work you can get done for the day with other professionals heading home too.

If you want to research a topic without other people involved, you'll have to use whatever printed resources are available, perhaps even visiting a library.

It's now the 1990s and you've just gone away to college. It costs a lot of money to call your friends from high school long distance, but you have a new communication technology to use: electronic mail aka email. What difference does this make for this college student? What about for businesses around the globe?

Now imagine it's today's world. You have internet, email, social media, cell phones, and more technology emerging every year. What's better about this than the past situations? What's not as good? 

If it's hard to think of the negatives, imagine the off-work hours of the journalist (without a way for someone to reach him at all times), or the students experience of focusing on work in college when they're done responding to emails, and have no Facebook or other app to contact friends. 

Could the journalist possibly have a greater distinction between work and home/leisure? On the other hand, how do communication technologies help a journalist today gather information more efficiently?

And furthermore, how do changes in communication technology even make some printed publications like newspapers less relevant today? For instance, the journalist can do his/her job for a newspaper better, yet new technologies also make the newspaper less relevant. How's that for irony, right?

Could the college student focus better on his or her studies without constant entertainment and apps to turn to for fun? And yet what limitations might this same '90s student face when aiming to research a subject with the internet just starting to explode at that time? 

When there are major local, national, or world events, does the communication technology of today (such as social media) contribute to the protection and survival of those who have access to this information? Can communities of people even rise up against oppressive forces as a result of these news ways of interacting with one another?

Although I'm not answering these questions on your behalf, these are some general areas to consider when looking at the pros and cons of communication technologies. Put yourself, as best you can, in the shoes of past human beings, and imagine all the new avenues we have to be in contact with others. But don't forget to consider anything that may also have been lost as a result of this increased technological contact.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The term “communication technology” could refer to anything from landline telephones to fax machines to telegraphs, to smart phones.  I assume that you are actually asking about the most modern communication technology.  The advantage of these types of technology is that they make it much easier to communicate with other people.  Their disadvantage is that they reduce our ability to have free time and they may make us less likely to actually interact with other human beings.

Modern communications technology is extremely useful in many ways.  We can easily talk to people anywhere in the world using our cell phones.  In addition, we can do much more than talk.  We can share data with people by sending them things or sharing things with them over the internet.  We can collaboratively work on documents using our computers to communicate.  This allows us to do many things that we could not do even a few decades ago when telephones and fax machines were the state of the art.

However, this ability to communicate comes with a price.  One problem with it is that we cannot get away from our jobs as easily as we once could.  Because people have smart phones, their bosses can reach them anywhere, any time.  Their bosses can require them to look at documents and do work on them.  This makes it very hard for people to have free time and to feel that they are off of work.  The other problem is that, at least in some people’s view, technology gets in the way of human relationships.  We spend our time looking at our phones and not interacting with the people around us.

In these ways, we can argue that today’s communications technology makes it easier for us to communicate and share information with other people but, at the same time, it could detract from our quality of life.

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