The disadvantages of digital technology include the spread of disinformation, addiction to social media, compromised personal privacy, increase in the crime rate, breaches in data security, loss of traditional lifestyle and values, development of more deadly weapons of war, loss of jobs and information overload.
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The above constitute just a small fraction of the negative impact of digital technology on society. In this post, I will identify the major disadvantages of the digital revolution.
Please note that you can use this post as a guide to write an essay on the disadvantages or the negative impact of digital technology on society.
You can also read about the positive effects of digital technology in THIS POST.
Without wasting much time, let’s dive in to discuss the disadvantages of digital technology.
1. Increased Concerns Over Data Security
The activities of hackers and other cybercriminals have allowed sensitive data to fall into the hands of the wrong people. Extensive breaches in data belonging to government agencies, for example, have exposed one of the most unfortunate shortcomings of digital technology.
Apart from criminals, the need to regularly update apps and hardware means that failure to do so might cause loss of valuable data.
Again, when a computer or mobile phone is stolen, all the information stored on it also goes away and may never be recovered.
The same applies to devices that become outmoded a few years after their purchase. Failure to take care of certain data could mean a permanent loss of vital information.
Government departments, educational institutions, security agencies and small businesses have all been victims of massive data losses.
2. Loss of Personal Privacy
The loss of personal privacy is one of the disadvantages of digital technology. Major advances in digital technology have made it possible for people to have easy access to sensitive information about others.
Governments have found ways to pry into the lives of private citizens without their knowledge. The ubiquitous CCTV camera which is meant to give us greater security has raised questions about how far the state must be allowed to go in order to provide security without compromising individual freedoms.
Governments are not the only invaders of our privacy via technology. Giant hi-tech companies have also been accused of working with foreign adversaries to install spyware on their products.
It is no longer entirely safe to use mobile phones, social media or mailing services. The recent data breaches at Facebook and Yahoo are still fresh in our minds.
The security measures of these companies may appear tight but they are never foolproof. So as you surf the internet, be aware that someone is peeping on you, eager to even steal your bank account details. Many are those who would love to see your phone number, your Google Account information, Paypal account password or the security code on your credit card.
3. Increase in Crime Rate
The recent rise in the general crime rate is partly attributable to digital technology. Thus, the fast-increasing crime rate is one of the cons of digital technology. Here are some instances of criminal behaviour that could be traced to the current digital revolution.
- Plagiarism or content theft
- Advanced fee fraud
- Identity theft
- The proliferation of faked documents such as certificates
- Counterfeit currency printing
One reason for the dramatic increase in crime via the internet is that it is possible to operate anonymously online. Countries have become increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks from both domestic and foreign actors.
Financial institutions such as commercial banks and insurance companies have become easy targets for international criminal gangs.
Other targets of criminals arising from the digital revolution are public infrastructure and social services.
4. Destructive Warfare
The rapid growth in digital technology has also led to fears about the deployment of more deadly weapons in conflict areas of the world. Technology has enabled certain states to manufacture and use lethal weapons of mass destruction never seen before.
With the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, drones are used to conduct remote attacks on enemy targets with lethal precision.
On the other hand, when mistakes are made, innocent civilians become the victims of these monster weapons.
Cyberwarfare is yet another unfortunate by-product of digital technology. Cyberwarfare may take the form of stolen files, attacks on cyberinfrastructure, or spyware placed inside devices before they are shipped to unsuspecting governments or sold to private users.
Both state actors and disgruntled individuals have employed the medium of the internet to cause much havoc to government departments and businesses.
5. Social Isolation
Social isolation is among the major disadvantages of digital technology. The youth, in particular, have become used to living in a fantasy virtual world. Some literally live their lives on such social media platforms as Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Consequently, they would prefer not to have anything to do with real human connections. Families and the larger society will bear the consequences of the social disconnect arising from the unbridled use of social media.
6. Lowered Self – Esteem
A direct negative effect of the social isolation being suffered by internet users is lowered self-esteem, depression and suicidal thoughts. The reason is that many people take the fake personas they see online for real.
From then on, they either tend to copy the lifestyle of these charlatans or try to outdo them. The unhealthy competition with fake Facebook profiles only ends up hurting many youths both financially and emotionally.
7. Spread of Disinformation
An essay on the disadvantages of digital technology must also include the spread of disinformation and fake news. People with varying motives use social media outlets to propagate a lot of falsehood.
Some of these fake news stories and images appear so credible that it is often difficult for the average person to know the difference between the truth and a lie.
Unsurprisingly, most people hardly trust their governments these days. The threat to national unity and political stability that this growing mistrust poses is very real.
8. Growth in Anti-Social Behaviour
A disturbing negative impact of the digital revolution is the intensification of anti-social behaviour on the internet. Cyberbullying, trolling, and vicious personality attacks are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
In addition, digital technology has inadvertently aided the activities of paedophiles, scammers as well as child pornography and illegal gambling sites.
9. Information Overload
Despite the fact that the coming of the information superhighway has made unlimited access to information possible, this development has its drawbacks. A notable disadvantage of digital technology is that we are now exposed to much more information than we truly need.
The personal or office email inbox is always overflowing with newsletters, offers and sales pitches we never asked for.
Online advertisement is making life difficult for a lot of internet surfers. Ad-block technology has not helped matters much. The disturbing part of all this is that some advertisements do not live up to the standards expected of them.
It is estimated that currently, as many as 4.4 million blog posts are added to the internet every day. The number of YouTube channels out there at the time of writing this article stands at over 37 million.
The constant ringing of notification bells on digital devices is overwhelming. Thus, we cannot rule out such damaging effects as psychological disorders; not to talk of our growing inability to make our lives less complex and more satisfying.
10. Unhealthy Multitasking and Work Overload
Similarly, digital technology has created a situation where it is possible to tackle multiple tasks at the same time. However, the problem with this is unhealthy work overload.
Multitasking tends to increase stress levels, reduce efficiency and productivity in the long run. Definitely, this constitutes one of the major cons of digital technology that we cannot easily brush aside.
Too much multitasking may also bring about mental health problems as people try to cope with too many demands on their time and minds.
11. Job Losses
Certain developments that have come with the new digital economy have led to significant job losses.
First of all, the structural changes in the traditional economy have caused a fall in demand for labour. Automation in the work environment means that employers can easily cut down on their labour force. The Automated Teller Machine (ATM), for example, has made a lot of bank workers redundant.
Secondly, the use of Artificial Intelligence has resulted in the use of self-driven cars. Tech companies like Tesla and Uber are leading the way in this revolution.
Now, it is possible to outsource cheaper labour from other countries. They do the same work that a more expensive local workforce would have been employed for previously.
As people lose their jobs or are unable to access job opportunities, incomes fall. This has created social tensions that are a time bomb waiting to explode at any time.
12. Economic Instability
Furthermore, the rapid shifts in the structure of the economies of the world have become almost unpredictable, New apps and gadgets come quickly replace those that came only a few months or even weeks before.
The dizzying pace at which technology is developing has created so much confusion in people’s minds, in businesses and at the governmental level. No one seems to know where this is leading to.
With the above come more indirect disadvantages of digital technology such as demand and supply instabilities, price volatility and increasing unemployment levels.
13. Digital Technology is Addictive
Another negative impact of digital technology on society is that its addictive nature has negatively affected productivity. Too many people now spend hours browsing the internet for no apparent reason.
Both students and workers have become so much used to playing computer games, betting and conversing inside virtual chat rooms that they forget to attend to their more important tasks.
People spend hours on end on Netflix, YouTube or Soundcloud watching and listening to long strings of movies and musical shows. Obviously, otherwise productive man-hours are going to waste.
14. Higher Costs of Living
It is undeniable that the digital revolution has brought vast improvements in our economic well-being. Notwithstanding the obvious benefits, digital technology has also brought an increase in costs of living.
Governments are increasingly introducing taxes that have made our use of internet data expensive. In the same manner, they are making us pay higher for communicating or doing business with our mobile phones.
The same applies to the increasing prices of smartphones, digital TVs and application software that we are unable to live without.
According to the Pew Research Center, more technology has not actually improved life in ways that we thought.
15. Complex Technology is Difficult to Understand
Another unfortunate aspect of digital technology is that it is no respecter of the wide differences that exist in literacy levels worldwide. The same commands and notifications are there for both literates and illiterates.
For people who can hardly read or write, there is always the danger of making expensive mistakes while using most technological devices.
Again, it is not every literate that is well versed in the use of computers and apps. The rather low levels of computer literacy across the world have made life almost unbearable for a lot of people.
16. Loss of Traditional Lifestyle
We cannot ignore the negative impact of digital technology on traditional lifestyles and values in this essay on the disadvantages of digital technology. Traditional ways of living have been undermined following the major advances in digital technology.
Our overdependence on computers, smartphones, calculators, social media and the like means that we are gradually drifting away from the natural environment, for example. People no longer find it necessary to take long walks in the woods in order to connect to nature.
Traditional story-telling sessions that seek to teach helpful morals have become a thing of the past.
The erosion in social values we see all around us is partly a result of the negative influences of digital technology. When younger people come into contact with nude images, child pornography and unlimited numbers of movies that glorify violence and crime, then you know the future of society is at risk.
17. Lower Educational Standards
The education sector is not spared the ravages of the digital revolution. Research has shown that the attention span of students has dropped dramatically due to the influence of social media, gaming and get-rich-quick schemes that are everywhere online.
Also, technology has made it much easier for students, teachers and parents to indulge in all forms of examination malpractice.
Leaked exam questions have become so easy to access that students in some countries do not see the need to get serious with their books. Teachers and educational authorities are a part of the problem. Some aid and abet cheating in examinations.
With the help of certain apps and so-called ‘rogue websites,’ they act in ways that compromise the integrity of national certificates like WASSCE.
An increasing number of students are replacing reading and serious academic research with long periods spent on gambling and dating sites. Computer games have become more important to many students than work which will lead to better results in their exams.
Indeed, most social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp groups have become the haven of individuals who perpetrate these vices.
18. Inter-Generational Conflicts
The conflict between the older and younger generation is on the rise thanks to the latter’s choice of individuals with questionable character as their idols.
In some cases, children have rubbished the opinion of their parents as outmoded just because they have seen things on the internet that their illiterate parents will never see.
These generational tensions are so rampant that they threaten to destroy family ties and social bonds. This is why some observers are beginning to ask if digital technology has not done more harm than good to society.
19. Environmental Degradation
The negative impact of digital technology can be felt in the environment too. Used and discarded laptops, MacBooks, tablets and mobile phones litter our environment.
Apart from being an eyesore, the toxic substances in them are sure to affect the ecosystem and human health.
There are fears that improper disposal of used products from manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, Apple, Nokia, Dell and Hewlett Packard is responsible for much of the environmental pollution we experience today.
20. General Health Problems
Finally, the sustained use of computers, smartphones and the internet has brought about a variety of health issues on individuals and society in general. See below some of the commonest health problems that people who interact consistently with digital technology may suffer.
- Bad posture
- Eye problems like blurred vision
- Sleep disorders such as insomnia
- Muscle pain
- Social Anxiety
- Mental disorders such as bipolar
We have been taking a close look at the disadvantages of digital technology. Now you can take as many points as you like from this article to write a credible essay on the negative impact of digital technology. What other cons of digital technology do you know? Feel free to share them with me in the comment section below. And should you need to know more about the advantages of digital technology, make sure to read this article as well.
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