ARTICLE TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is about the pros and cons of computers.
To many, computers are the greatest invention in human history.
Others think computers are responsible for changing the world they knew into something they no longer understand.
Let’s get started!
The Pros and Cons of Computers
In the current day and age, computers are everywhere. They are in people’s pockets, in their offices, in schools, and in your home.
Computers make up the livelihood of many people worldwide and influence our culture in ways most people might not even be aware of.
To many, computers are the single greatest invention in human history. In contrast, to others, they are a menace responsible for changing the world they knew into something they no longer understand.
Knowing and understanding all of this might be worth asking what the pros and cons of computers are.
It is a genuinely monumental question to answer, considering just how widespread computers and computer-like devices are and how much they influence every aspect of our culture. But it is worth looking into for that same reason:
General Advantages of Computers
Where to begin?
There is a reason why the historical period from 1970 to today is called the “information age” by many historians.
Computers do nearly everything for humans, and it’s because these little miracle machines you are probably reading this article on can do anything:
Computers Can Do (Almost) Anything
The main advantage of computerization is that it can be programmed to do any task. It can also do things faster and more efficiently than any human could. Simply put, computers are truly unique inventions.
The intent of computers was originally to do the work that humans could not. The Difference Engine, built-in 1832 by Charles Babbage, was designed to produce logarithm tables for navigation.
Later examples of early computers, which you may be more familiar with, also functioned as giant calculators throughout the 20th century.
What is the point of all of this?
The benefits of computation are the sheer amount of utility it has in all of its forms! Computers allow people to:
- Communicate over vast distances instantaneously. Or for multiple people around the world to have a video call together.
- Share information to millions; no, hundreds of millions of people around the world in seconds.
- Stay in touch over distances of thousands of miles or more (via social media).
- Work remotely from the comfort of their home, an essential feature during a global pandemic.
- Allow the coordination of social movements around the world, both online and offline.
- Share creative work through blogging platforms such as Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, and video sharing sites such as YouTube.
There are other perks to computer usage, including:
- In general, computers offer a hub of multiple different programs, such as collecting Microsoft Office features, which streamline any work done through them.
- More information can be stored in a relatively small computer hard drive than could fit into most public libraries.
- Computers can complete complex algorithms in seconds, allowing for anything from completing simple equations to mining cryptocurrency.
- Most people now carry miniature computers in their pockets, smartphones, which allow anyone and everyone to have immediate access to everything mentioned here and more from literally anywhere in the world at any time.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see how and why so many people hail computers as one of if not the single greatest invention in human history. This article could go on for pages just discussing all of the other things a computer can do.
But it’s worth investigating the other side, too. There are a few notable drawbacks to computers:
General Disadvantages of Computers
Computers can seem like a miracle invention from a distance, but some aspects need to be taken into account to round out that image. One of the disadvantages of computers, for example, is the ethics of their manufacture.
But there’s more:
Questionable Manufacturing Ethics
iPhones, especially, have the reputation of being made in less-than-ethical ways. Foxxton, one of the companies that produce iPhones and other gadgets, employs what could be considered sweatshops in South and East Asia.
Claims like this are not uncommon among the tech industry as a whole, and it is not a new issue. A 2011 article by Weird Magazine describes much of the same stuff going on back then that you can still see happening today.
Workers at these factories work 12-hour shifts for meager pay. People frequently comment that the workers likely would not be able to afford the products they are making.
Lack of Privacy
Those workers are hardly alone there! Another issue with almost any sort of computer is the price, most being over $600. And with this expensive Facebook machine in your home, you now have to worry about getting hacked by anyone from an individual, to corporations, to your own government.
As it is often called, data mining is the process of discovering patterns in data and web searches across large platforms and search engines such as Google and Facebook. As harmless as this may sound, it’s not.
Large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target are the worst offenders, along with fast-food chains.
Records of what you search and how often are sent to companies so that they can ensure that you see certain ads that will be more appealing to you. Most people who are aware this is happening see it as a significant privacy breach.
Additional Drawbacks of Computers
These are two major issues that all people with a computer are passively aware of. Some others are:
- In order to use a computer properly, you need a degree of existing knowledge. Older readers will be particularly aware of this fact.
- Should you be interested in online gaming, the computer you will need can easily cost over $1000.
- A gaming computer also requires regular updates as parts wear down or become outdated, meaning that you will have to continue spending money.
- Online data is subject to being hacked.
- Personal information such as social security numbers and credit card information is vulnerable when saved to an online source.
- There are significant pros and cons to computers in healthcare and medical practices, like the ability to more accurately measure vitals and the misinformation about medical practices spread through the internet.
- Some people worry about computers replacing teachers.
- Younger members of society are able to find adult media such as porn quite easily.
- The difference in savvy between younger and older people on the internet can lead to many interpersonal problems like the one mentioned above.
- Cyberbullying is rampant across the internet.
Pros and Cons of Computers in The Classroom
Personal computers and the internet were first conceived to allow researchers and universities to share notes, so applying it to education should be easy, right? In many ways, yes, it is. There is no shortage of advantages of computers for students.
A booming industry exists to create fun and engaging educational games for every subject at every level of education.
Typing games also exist to teach grade school kids how to type properly; many kids growing up through the 2000s will almost certainly be familiar with these.
On a broader level, the use of computers in the classroom allows for less paper to be used and thus reduces paper consumption in general. There are, however, more pros and cons of computers in education to investigate.
Preparing Students for Work and Life
The use of computers both to write and turn in assignments also better equips students for the workplaces they will be entering. This becomes truer with every passing year, with more and more companies doing the majority of their work online through desktop computers.
The use of computers is the only way the education system has been able to continue, while flawed in its execution, through this entire year of 2020. Services such as video chats have been nothing short of indispensable this year both for students and those in the workforce.
However, there are disadvantages of computers for students. A limitation of computers is that they can be hacked in schools as well, and students can sometimes find their way around the content blocks put in place for them. Porn and other non-scholastic web searches ensue at this point.
Pros and Cons of Computers At Home
Continuing on with the concept of kids on computers, school relationships and disagreements often enter the home. But unlike if this article were posted 5 or 10 years ago, there is no question as to whether or not you should have a computer in your home. You need one!
Every household will inevitably have several computers. Between laptops, home desktops, and smartphones, every home has multiple computers and some of them are accessible to kids. So it may be time to talk about the world the internet exposes them to.
Cyberbullying has been an issue for years. Suffice to say, it is an ever-growing problem. It’s also something that is difficult to combat. At the end of the day, most people are bullied at some point in their lives, and most people get through it.
What is not as easily dismissed is the issue of cyberstalking underaged people. People creating fake profiles on social media in order to lure children to secluded areas is at least as serious, if not a bit rarer, of an issue as cyberbullying.
Panning out a bit: computers are a vital part of life at this point, so the question is not if a computer should be used in the home but how to go about using them.
Computers are a necessity for almost every aspect of work-life and many aspects of social life. This is doubly true during the lockdown, where the majority of interactions with people outside of the ones living with you take place over social media.
Effects of Computers on Young People
With the world revolving so much around computers in all of their forms, it’s worth asking another question: what effect do computers have on how people develop and understand the world?
As of the time of writing this, the two youngest generations show just that. The world now has a decent enough answer to this question. Millennials, for instance, are notorious for being called the “me generation.”
In more recent times; and with the advent of tens of thousands of videos of the previous generation, baby boomers, showing much more entitlement and narcissism; this moniker is seen as unfair.
Growing Up with Computers
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are known for being the first generation to grow up after the advent of computers. While this is not actually shown to result in the level of narcissism, the rash of articles published in the 2000s and 2010s led people to believe it influences them.
For instance, phrases that originated as text abbreviations, such as “lol” and “brb,” are now used in verbal conversations with very little irony. On the other hand, these generations are the most adept at the use of computers in business spheres.
The trend is even more apparent with the generation after millennials, known as Generation Z.
Gen Z, those born between 2000 and 2012, are considered the true “online generation.” They had social media throughout their lives and are the most integrated people alive today in terms of internet fluency.
Between these two generations, several trends emerge. There are positive aspects, such as:
- People can grow up with a constant source of mental stimulation, should they choose to use computers in that way.
- A nearly endless wealth of information is waiting to be explored, so kids with random questions aren’t limited to their parents’ knowledge.
- The increased popularity of audiobook websites such as Audible, with a steady overall increase in book sales over the past decade. Even recently, with studies showing a growing revenue increase to these sites.
- Young people aged 15 and older spend an estimated average of 16 minutes a day reading for fun, thanks in large part to audiobooks. It also found 32% of reading happens in the car thanks to audiobooks.
- Countless stories of people being able to reconnect with long-lost friends over social media, or keep in touch despite moving away, commonly appear.
- Some young people launch their careers through social media.
However, there are also certain drawbacks to a developing mind being on the internet:
- All sorts of polarizing ideas are shared, and a young person may not have the foreknowledge to know how to deal with what they are taking in.
- Unhealthy ideas of success can sometimes be communicated by following the lives of celebrities online.
- Younger audiences are more likely to form extreme attachments to niche interest groups such as TV fandoms. This can also result in an unhealthy attachment to the characters and decrease their overall quality of life.
- Young minds are vulnerable to manipulation, especially from online icons. Horror stories of influencers abusing their power exist all across the internet.
- Online multiplayer games such as World Of Warcraft are also notorious for creating an obsession in some of their players that can result in a lack of interest in any and all other activities.
- Simply put, young people can sometimes become prone to being sucked into their online world and forgetting to spend time doing other things.
Computers In a Society
Now you know how computers affect the young and impressionable of our society and much of the good and the harm they have the potential to do. The question now is: where does that leave you?
Computers are part of our society, and they will remain that way forever. The pros and cons of computers in the workplace are something companies have to come to terms with. But you can look at how it is changing society to make sure it changes for better and not for worse.
Parents need to teach their kids how to be on the internet safely and how to protect themselves while online. Schools should reinforce these lessons, which they are already beginning to do.
Everyone should behave online in a way that ensures they are safe, but there does come a point where caution ventures into paranoia.
In time, people that refuse to save any bank info online will likely be viewed the same as people who stored their savings in their mattresses during the Great Depression.
Some good advice is to treat surfing the web the same as walking down a busy city street:
- Do look around and enjoy yourself. There is much to enjoy.
- Don’t join arguments that you come across. It is not worth it.
- Do be cautious with your bank info, but not so careful that it prevents you from taking advantage of banks and stores’ benefits.
- Don’t cause a scene unless it is indeed worth it.
With all of that said, if a person is smart with how they use any form of computer, many of the drawbacks covered here will not be an issue for you.
Society, as a whole, has learned a great deal over the last 20 years about how to treat computers and how to use them the most effectively. They have also learned how to regard the internet and how best to keep people safe.