ICT refers to the devices used to communicate between computers. Information communication technology (ICT) has greatly impacted and enhanced global socialisation and interactions.
In fact information technology has taken over nearly every aspect of our daily lives from commerce (buying and selling) to leisure and even culture. Today, mobile phones, desktop computers, hand held devices, emails and the use of Internet has become a central part of our culture and society. These technologies play a vital role in our day to day operations.
ICT has made global social and cultural interaction very easy. We now live in an interdependent global society, where people can interact and communicate swiftly and efficiently. News and information can now be transmitted in minutes. Individuals can easily stay in contact with members of their families who reside in other countries or make new friends across the world.
Examples of information and communication technology (ICT) tools used for these purposes are emails, instant messaging (IM), Chat rooms and social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, Skype, iPhones, cellular phones and similar applications.
ICT made a major contribution towards the elimination of language barriers - people speaking different languages can connect and socialise or trade in real time via the Internet. This is made possible with the use of language translators.
There are many advantages of the new ICT technology:
Processing of data is much faster on a computer.
Example : Calculating an annual budget on a spreadsheet is instantaneous, doing the calculations by hand would take some time.
Repetitive processing can be better done using computerised machinery.
Example : Humans get tired, lose concentration and generally fed up if they have to repeat the same task over and over again. Robotic machinery will perform the same task repeatedly with consistent quality and never need a break, or software programs can be written to process all the records in a database.
Searching for data is much faster.
Example : Finding a patient's record in a doctor's surgery can be done in seconds on a computerised database system, whereas it would take a receptionist some minutes to locate a folder in a paper filing system.
Data storage capacity is almost limitless in a computer system.
Example : Large quantities of data can be stored on hard discs or media such as CDs or DVDs instead of needing enormous quantities of paper and many large filing cabinets. Eg. In a national driving licence database.
Data communications are fast and accurate. Data transmitted over a network will arrive at its destination anywhere in the world in just a few seconds.
Example : A computer user can place an order for an item on an Internet website and it will be received immediately - posting an order in the mail would take a day or two to arrive.
Data can be output on a computer in a variety of different formats.
Example : Annual sales figures for a retail business can be printed as a spreadsheet, displayed as a graph, or as a multimedia presentation involving text, sound, graphics and animations.
In as much as the advantages of IT are numerous, it is important to mention some of its major disadvantages to the society.
A significant disadvantage is that older generations find it difficult to catch up with the ever changing and numerous technologies available to day. Fear of change, resistance to change and inability to catch up with rapid technology evolution are areas to note.
The issue of digital divide can not be ignored. In the world today, there are people in the society who are not in the position to take advantage of available technology. This may be due to poverty or geographical location. For example, access to technology can be said to be limited in many developing countries and these may result in lesser opportunities for economical and social development.