& Effects of ICT on Society
The rapid rate of change:
As a pupil at KLB school you are used to using computers and may also have a computer at home.
You will be aware that computers are used widely in the modern world in places
such as shops or businesses.
What you may not know is how very recent the development of computers has
Other major inventions such as cars and airplanes were invented over a hundred years ago,
but compared to the changes in computers, they have changed very little.
The first electronic computers were only constructed around 50 years ago and were used during the war to calculate
firing tables for field guns and to crack German codes. They used glass tubes called
valves and the machines filled
large rooms. They consumed huge amounts of electrical power and their
processing power was tiny by today’s standards.
The widespread use of
computers in homes, schools and businesses only really began about 20 years ago.
This growth continues as computers become more
sophisticated, with larger memories, better displays, faster processing, new
features. However, despite all these improvements, their price remains the same or even falls.
The changing patterns of employment:
The introduction of
computers and microprocessor controlled machinery has resulted in many
changes in employment patterns.
There are three main effects that apply to most situations:
A loss of jobs due to:
- computers making jobs more efficient so less staff are needed.
- computer/microprocessor controlled machinery directly replacing human
- New jobs being created due to:
- The need for technical staff to maintain and manage the computers and
- New careers such as website designers that did not exist before
- The retraining of staff due to:
- The need for existing staff to change over to use computers.
- The need for staff to keep up as software and technology keeps
Jobs that are lost:
Many jobs were lost, particularly from the manufacturing industries,
repetitive tasks of unskilled workers were replaced by machines.
An example would be the replacement of car body assembly workers and body
part painters by robots. However, computerisation has
replaced jobs across most areas of the workplace, right up to middle management
New jobs that are created:
however been positive effects on employment, many new jobs have
been created in communication technology and computing, both in the service
and manufacturing industries.
Retraining the workforce:
The switch to computerised systems involves considerable
retraining and means
that a modern society needs to have a more flexible workforce. Individuals
understand how computers work and the effects that Information and Communication
Technology has on their lives so that they can influence the changes that are
taking place and ensure that a better quality of life results from those
changes. The rapid advances mean individuals may have to retrain for employment
several times during their working lives.
Why companies invest in new technology: As a factory invests in computerised equipment some of its workers may be made
redundant. Its productivity rises as its labour costs are reduced and it will become more competitive.
What can happen if companies do not make this investment: If a company
does not invest in computerised equipment then higher labour costs and lower productivity
will means its products will be less competitive. This could result in the company
failing and jobs being lost anyway. This is an issue that employers, trade unions and
governments have to face.
Advances in ICT have also allowed teleworking to become a significant factor
in employment patterns. This involves carrying out work away from the office and
communicating with the employer through the use of computer and
telecommunications equipment. This has obvious advantages for individuals but
society as a whole benefits in terms of reduced commuting and hence savings in
costs and pollution, as well as allowing employment to those working in remote
The effects of microprocessor-controlled devices in the home:
- The effects on leisure time
- microprocessor controlled domestic appliances such as washing machines,
cookers, heating systems etc. do not need direct human control because they
have timers, operating programs and safety checks built in. This means the
user can leave them to complete their tasks so they have more leisure time.
- The effects on social
interaction - from the comfort of the home people can communicate
in many more ways than the traditional telephone and postal service.
- Email allows fast efficient communication with the ability to
send files as attachments and email many people at the same time.
- Online messaging allows users to sent text, images and files in
real time, as well as communicate via voice and video.
- Wireless phones and mobile phones allow interaction by
telephone conversations from any room or the garden.
- SMS (Short Messaging Service) text messages, images and
video clips to be sent between mobile phones and computers.
- Answer machines allow messages to be left for users who cannot
answer the telephone.
- Social interaction websites allow users to interact by leaving
messages and adding comments to blogs. Users can also upload and share
image and video files.
- The effects on the need
to leave the home - computers linked to the Internet have greatly
reduced the need for people to leave the home.
- Entertainment - music and games can be downloaded. Movies can be
downloaded and this, along with Interactive digital television, means there
is no need to go to the cinema or video rental shop.
- Goods - these can be easily ordered from online stores and
delivered to the home.
- Food - takeaway food and groceries can be ordered online and
delivered directly to the door.
- Services - banking, ordering insurance and many other services
can be carried out over the telephone or the Interent.
The effects of variation in computer access and ICT skills
between different people:
Many people think that the variation in computer access and ICT skills is leading to a society that is divided by technology.
Those who cannot afford the hardware or lack the confidence are disadvantaged compared to those who embrace each new advance. Not keeping up
with technology leads to people being disadvantaged socially, in education and
in employment in many ways, some of which are outlined below:
- Not being able to access the huge range of information available over the
Internet or on CD-Rom and digital television etc.
- Not being able to use ICT skills such as using word processing and DTP
- Not being able to sort, search and analyse data using software such as
spreadsheets and databases.
- Not being able to use creative tools such as graphics software, CAD and 3D
design software, as well as music and video editing software.
- Not being able to use more advanced communication methods such as email,
news groups, phone texting (SMS), video phones, chat rooms, bulletin-boards, telecommunications etc.
Modern communication has become almost instantaneous. Email is cheap and fast
and Information and Communication Technology allows documents and diagrams to be faxed
around the world. More and more people are now
working from home and this is likely to increase as video-conferencing becomes
more and more commonplace. In communication technology, there have been huge advances
in digital communication through satellite and cable television and digital
The vast quantity of information available through the Internet requires new skills
to search out and select the information needed from the various sources and
Mobile phones are now used to communicate via text messages, images and even
video as well as being able to access information over the Internet and send/receive
Data, and what it is used for:
Those who said that the use of computers would lead to the paperless office
were sadly wrong. In fact, computers have lead to an increase in the overall
amount of paper printed. This is partly due to the
amount of information about people held
on computer files which is then used to generate computerised mail that is delivered to our houses
as letters, bills, forms and advertising.
Such data may be highly confidential, for example criminal, medical and financial
data. Any errors in this data due to errors in the source of the data or when it
is entered can have an issue that
may have a huge effect on our lives.
Our dependence on technology:
This rapid increase in the use of computers is having an enormous impact on our lives.
Our modern way of living simply could not exist if this modern technology were
- Our financial system is dependant on modern technology to
process the millions of cheques written every day.
- With modern telecommunications, it would be impossible to control the millions of telephone calls
made every day.