The Power of a Computer

[Background] I often question the effects that personal computers and the internet have on society. I am 23, so needless to say I do not remember the world before computers were the norm. However, I constantly wonder if computers are good or bad for society. The readings provided this week helped provide some insight on the value of computers in the learning environment. Regardless of your opinion on this topic, we all know that computers are powerful, life-altering machines.

[Discussion] In this post, I will look at the positives and negatives of computers on the educational, environmental, and societal scales. Since this is such an open-ended discussion, there will probably be lots of things I will miss, so I look forward to my peer’s feedback and ideas!

1. Educational

Pros: Without computers, we would be very far behind technologically. The internet was created to entertain collaboration, and that is key in advancing knowledge and technology, especially with all the unlimited resources available at the click of a mouse. If someone wants to know a specific piece of information, they just need to Google it. Computers are also powerful teaching tools at any educational level (ex. try out Hypothes.is if you haven’t already, it really is neat).

Cons: While computers help us learn, what students learn in school often isn’t embedded into their memory because they know they can easily access it later on. Also, students learn to rely on computers to learn, rather than taking advantage of other resources such as textbooks and academic journals. Additionally, most students, especially at the high school and college level, are expected to have their own personal computer, which is an expensive expectation for many.

2. Environmental

Pros: Computers offer the service of online shopping, which reduces the amount of time spent in a car/gas spent to go shopping in person. Amazon Prime, ladies and gentlemen! They also reduce paper trails, since most things now are done virtually.

Cons: Environmentally, computers use a lot of resources and processes to make. Little to no materials used to make a computer are renewable, and many materials cannot be recycled. Once a computer is no longer needed, it is often thrown out instead of properly dismantled and recycled. Also, using a computer limits one to be within a few feet of an outlet, or within wifi range. This eliminates opportunities to spend time outdoors, enjoying what nature has to offer.

3. Societal

Pros: With the use of computers, folks can be more up-to-date on the happenings of the world, and be more quickly informed in case of an emergency such as a hurricane. Computers also enable friendships and communication that would otherwise not be possible (i.e. an Indian child can be pen pals with a Brazilian child, or you can easily keep up with your distant relative that lives in another country). Also, computers/the internet are typically available to those of any age, race, or income, and are becoming increasing affordable.

Cons: Computers often substitute for face-to-face contact. This could include classroom settings, customer service, bullying, etc. Computers often prevent humans from forming meaningful relationships with each other. For instance, think of yourself going out with friends for dinner. How many times do you and your friends check your phone throughout your outing? Computer use can also be addictive, and take the place of other activities such as exercising and working. For instance, I know when I come home from a long day at work, I prefer to parooz Facebook and other social media sites on my computer rather than biking or doing something active and healthy.

[Conclusion] I only touched on the surface of these issues, but it is obvious to me that computers are both good and bad for society. If used correctly and for the right purposes, they can be extremely beneficial and working towards further advancing our knowledge, technology, and more. I welcome any new ideas to this thought-provoking argument!

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