Computers are useful in all sorts of contexts, from crunching numeric data to typing up documents and sending emails. They've made businesses more efficient and shopping more convenient. But they have their disadvantages as well, contributing to sedentary lifestyles, causing eyestrain and potentially interfering with childhood play. As with any equipment, it's important to decide whether a computer is the right tool for a particular job.
Advantages of Computer Technology
Computers are useful in many different fields both at home and at work.
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They can be used as research tools, scouring the internet and online databases for information about all different topics. Information that's found can easily be downloaded and saved or printed to hard copy.
Computers can be also convenient shopping tools, making it possible to find any number of products without having to visit a store or thumb through a paper catalog. And they're excellent for communication, letting people share photos, send emails and disseminate life updates on their own schedules for friends and family to see.
Working on a Computer
Computers are also often more efficient for producing written work, whether a financial spreadsheet where numbers are automatically totaled up without the need of a calculator or a word processing document with automatic spellchecking and easy, paper-free editing.
Documents created on a computer can also easily be backed up, shared and searched, unlike paper documents that need to be stored in secure spaces and physically transported and examined.
They've also boosted efficiency in other areas of business by allowing people to work remotely – when on business trips, for example – and by automating tasks in fields like manufacturing.
Disadvantages of Computer Technology
Computers also have their disadvantages.
While they can make workplaces more efficient, they often do so effectively by putting people out of work as their jobs are replaced by automation. They can also increase bureaucracy, since it can be harder to override a process implemented on an inflexible computer than one implemented solely by humans. Computers also contribute to a sedentary lifestyle among work users that can be unhealthy.
They've also cost people privacy, both in terms of large databases being created of people's behaviors and habits and in terms of data breaches. The industry has struggled to find enough talented and trained people to work in cybersecurity, even as hacks, malware and breaches are regularly in the news.
Some people also experience computer and internet addiction, which can cause problems similar to other addictive behaviors.
Kids and Computers
People are actively debating the pros and cons of technology for kids, especially the pros and cons of computer tools like modern laptops, smart phones and tablets.
Some parents and experts worry that computing devices can be particularly addictive for young minds, distracting them from ordinary childhood imaginative play and physical world social interactions. They're also concerned about kids being exposed to harmful material online.
On the other hand, some say kids should be exposed to computers from a relatively early age, since they're a ubiquitous and useful research tool and a fun way to watch videos and play games.