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The invention of the computer has a long history: from the relay technologies in the late 1930s, IBM in 1940s, ABC and ENIAC computers to the first PC presented by MIT in 1963. Then came Bill Gates’ Microsoft and the Apple era in 1970s, transition to microcomputers and then, IBM corporation progress in 1980s, with new technologies, computers and gadgets flooding the world market every year now. People always wanted to progress in science, discoveries, to make their lives easier. Once the computer came, it captivated almost every sphere of people’s activities. Today we cannot work without computers, cannot produce, buy and sell things, cannot have a good time, have some rest, cannot even use the public transport to get to work. It is a vicious circle, that cannot be broken, and the computer stays in its center.
When touching upon a topic of people’s dependency on computers, it is necessary to discuss the benefits and harms of the computer itself. There are two strong opposing views on how computers influence human nature, which definitely have common grounds to be indicated during the argument.
One point of view says about the benefits of the computer over its harms. People use computers every day. It is not only the machine that almost every family has in its home. Computer technologies are used in transportation, in offices, shops, in entertainment, in banks, museums, libraries, etc. Generally, they are used in the majority of the public places, but we take it for granted as we are accustomed to the presence of technologies in the everyday life.
Today computer technologies are developing very quickly. Owing to the computers, many areas of people’s activities came up to a new level: art areas, such as photography, music, cinematograph. Graphic design and 3D design appeared. Today the majority of architects use Autocad for drawings. Manufacturing, engineering, production are developing too. Factories and plants have faster production and lower percentage of fails due to the new computerized equipment. Products can be made in so many copies, undistinguishable one from another, that people everywhere can use them without feeling of lack or envy. Medicine is being progressing, new machines are used for diagnosing and surgeries, new discoveries are being made so quickly, that soon there will be no unknown illness or disease, that cannot be cured. Banks use electronics to save data of their clients, to protect their accounts, while we use credit cards, which became the common part of our usual financial activities.
Computers help people to memorize information, to keep great volumes of data, including personal information that contains so many addresses, telephones, logins, passwords, pin-codes that we just can’t remember them all.
Many programs and software are aimed to ease people’s daily work.
The most powerful effect of computerization is Internet. Today one can get news not only from watching short TV news block or reading daily newspaper, but from the Internet. Most of the news channels and newspapers have their websites, which are updated several times a day and even several times an hour. The top news websites are announced every year and, sometimes, every month. For example, in March, 2013, such news channels websites as CNN, NBS news, FOX news, ABC news and BBC news got into the top-15 most popular news websites according to the EBusiness Knowledge Base website. Besides keeping up to date in one’s own country, one can read and watch the news all over the world, find out different points of views on events happening and share his own opinion. I agree, that it is very important for a person to know and understand what’s going on in his own country and around the world, it is no less important to share your own point of view, which makes up an online conversation and helps one to develop his thinking abilities and his written language.
It is not only the news and opinions people can share. Cooking recipes won worldwide recognition and became another good reason for the computer and particularly Internet benefits. It seems to be a miracle, when a Brazilian student surprises his friends with a Chinese granny’s dish on a family recipe he found out from the Internet. Music, videos and photos shared by people across the globe promote globalization and international communication. This is a positive part of computerization, which enables people to understand and accept each other’s differences and find common interests.
Internet can help us decide whether to go and watch a new movie, or not. We read reviews and recommendations, watch the schedule. The same practice works in the case of the restaurants and cafes. That is another positive effect of the Internet. As we consider the opinion of another person, we do not pay attention to the gender or nationality, we just read the recommendations of the people like us, who also wanted to know if the thing was worth their time and then we make a decision.
Computer is a means of communication: emails, chats, forums. People stay in touch with their relatives and friends, which live too far.
There is a possibility to get education at home, to study and make a more productive research on a given subject without going outside and losing time, to get inspiration watching photos and videos from all over the world. One can also find a job, learn how to write a CV and send it to the employers, and even have an interview on Skype.
Computer is a stress reliever. One can play a game or read, or surf in the Internet and do whatever he wants to do there.
The popularity of the Internet and computers grows as there appear new shops and opportunities of online shopping: buying and selling things. It is not only because of the people’s laziness, but because of the easiness to use the Internet to find the nearest place and the best price of an item one is interested in. Without losing time, a person can order and get the goods in almost no time. It can be delivered to his own place, or he can take it from the nearest shop and that seems to be another positive effect of the computer technologies and Internet grow.
Despite all the benefits indicated, there is a lot of harm computer dependency and computer itself brings to people. It concerns both children and adults. As for children, they begin playing less outside, sitting at home in front of the computer without a breath of fresh air. When they come home, they head straight for the computer. They become uninterested in things going around them, they become unsocial, shy and feeble. Sitting in front of a computer for hours stresses a child’s eyes. It is necessary to add, that the majority of the articles on how computer affects our health are dedicated to human’s vision. American children spend more than 7 hours a day playing the video games or using a computer for entertainment. Slight attention is also paid to what websites children surf in. Of course, there are programs and computers that have special protection from children watching obscene websites. However, there is no evidence that a child will not see some indecent advertisement.
Because of no physical activities, people, who work all day on a computer, lose their physical form, become unsocial and sometimes lazy. Computer and cyberspace can ruin people’s relationship.
Another negative effect is plagiarism that spreads widely among the students, as they do not want to think themselves, but use simple command copy-paste to copy the material from the Internet for their works, without even watching, if this material is suitable for them. Most of the students do not go to the libraries anymore and make their research at home on a computer, thus books in the libraries stay untouched and collect dust. E-books growing popularity makes printed books step aside, though some people still prefer crispy pages of new books and yellowish pages of the old ones to their electronic analogues.
For some people computer is becoming essential in their lives like air, water and food. They think that they cannot live without checking their emails every two minutes, chatting with their friends in social networks, and it turns into obsession that is sometimes called “cyberspace addiction” and include telephone, computer and Internet obsessions. These addictions can be based on person’s sexual needs, need for relationship, need of different reality, need of new knowledge, need of acknowledgement or need of self-actualization. Game addicts often lose the sense of reality, some of them can be even dangerous for society. Such obsessions are closely watched by psychologists and the number of researches made on this subject grows.
Piracy, or unauthorized copying is another problem appeared with the progressing computerization. Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, rental or digital transmission of the copyrighted products. But today people still download movies, games and music from the Internet, which means, that they do not respect the efforts made by other people during their work on certain product.
One of the most unpleasant situations with a computer can be its failure. It is not only the loss of all data, either personal or work information, but there are viruses that can infect one’s computer. Intellectual property theft can be implemented with the help of these viruses, sometimes it cannot be tracked, so the thieves will never be found. It is an issue of safety for people’s private lives.
As for the process of manufacturing, many people lost their jobs during the time, when the plants and factories were subject to computerization. However it is always people, who operate the machines and watch the failures on the production, and we should not forget it.
Yes, there are many things in our lives we are dependent on, but not so many of them can harm our health so much as computers.
Undoubtedly, computers play an important role in people’s lives. We cannot progress without computers, cannot make new discoveries, memorize great volumes of information, we simply cannot go to work and do our daily activities. We are accustomed to computerized systems of shopping, paying our bills. We need to keep up to date, play games, use our emails, watch movies and listen to the music, go shopping. But we must remember about the adverse effects of computers’ influence and learn how to reduce them, also reducing time we spend in front of the screens. And we must teach children to work with a computer and watch them spend more time on fresh air.