What Is Digital Technology and How It Affects Us?

Digital technology has become part and parcel of our lives. In this article, we’ll address how it has and will continue to change our lives. We shall also define digital technology, observe its various forms, how it has evolved, its benefits, and so much more. In the end, you’ll understand what to expect of it in the future. 

Today, with the onset of COVID-19, we rely on digital technology more than ever. From work to school to shopping, digital technology has made it possible for us to do all these things from the comfort of our homes. 

Digital Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Evolution

Digital technology is around us, and we almost can’t survive without it in these modern days. It’s highly likely that most readers will access this article through some form of digital technology.

Right from the moment that we wake up, we almost automatically reach out to our smartphones. As we continue with our day, we use digital technology via computers, ATMs, online shopping, and many other platforms.  

But, what exactly is digital technology? To better understand the term, let’s first break it down into two. Digital originates from the Latin word ‘digitus’ and referred to a form of counting. Today, digital refers to data expressed as a series of digits 0, 1, 2, etc. 

On the other hand, technology refers to the practical application of scientific knowledge to solve day-to-day problems. When we combine the two, digital technology, therefore, refers to creating and applying algorithms to solve problems and make life much more comfortable.   

Evolution of Digital Technology 

It’s taken a lot of brains, hard work, endless research, and numerous attempts to get digital technology to where it is today. The most significant advancement in this area was achieved in the last half of the 20th century. 

However, it all started in 1822 when a man named Charles Babbage got an incredible idea to create an analytical device to solve more complex math problems. Babbage drew up the plans for the machine but never really built it.

In 1890, Herman Hollerith created a tabulating machine that used punch cards to process census data more quickly, saving on time. More developments and inventions were later made. 

Fast forward to 1936, German Konrad Zuse invented the Z1, which was the first binary programmable computer. In 1946, the first digital computer was created, known as the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).   

The Rise of Modern Digital Technology 

It was not until 1951 when the computer was first made commercially available. With time, the need for portable computers led to the creation of laptops in 1981. The first handheld cellular phone was introduced in 1973. 

Tim Berners Lee created the World Wide Web in 1989. Later in 1997, Six Degrees was launched, the first social media site. It was followed by Bluetooth, almost five years later.

The 21st century brought an even more rapid digital technology. Skype launched in 2003, while Facebook and YouTube made their debut in 2004 and 2005, respectively. In 2007, the usage of smartphones increased drastically following the launch of iPhones.  

Two years later, commercial 3D printing was introduced, and it enhanced the digital world further. In the same year, the first decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. Today, numerous advancements and improvements in digital technology are seen through smart cars, virtual reality, smart homes, and many more platforms.    

Examples of Digital Technology 

Digital technology exists in various forms, and the list is endless. In this section, we shall highlight the primary digital technology forms.    

  • Computers and Smartphones     

When you hear about digital technology, the first thing that comes to your mind is computers, possibly followed closely by smartphones. And you’re right. Without the invention of computers, digital technology wouldn’t have evolved to what it is today. 

Modern computers come in the form of desktops, laptops, and tablets. On the other hand, you can think of smartphones as mini-computers – they perform almost everything computers do.      

  • The Internet and Social Media     

Through computers and smartphones, we can access the internet to get information on anything and everything at just the click of a button. One can also perform other online activities such as shopping, streaming their favorite shows and music, and playing games. These devices also help us access social media to interact with friends, family, and even clients.

  • Geolocation   

Digital technology has made geolocation possible for us. This process involves using various data collection mechanisms to determine someone’s geographical location using any computer device or smartphone.     

  • Drones and Robotics     

A drone is a remote-controlled aircraft suitable for multiple uses such as aerial surveillance, videography and photography, food or disaster relief, and recreation. Modern robots are highly intelligent machines that perform human functions to make life easier.     

  • Smart Cars and Smart Homes     

Today, self-driven cars have become more common. Besides, most people don’t enjoy driving long distances. With such vehicles, you can relax and possibly work on other things without worrying about hiring a chauffeur, as is expected. 

Smart homes refer to either remote or voice-controlled homes. In a few years, the chances are that most machines will be voice-controlled.   

The Good: Positive Effects of Digital Technology 

Digital technology has improved our lives tremendously by making everyday activities much more manageable. Following the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we rely on digital technology, which has proven to be of great help. In this section, we shall go through the main benefits of digital technology.     

  • Easier and faster communication     

First and foremost, digital technology has made communication one thousandfold easier. You can talk to someone on the other end of the world and feel like they’re right next to you, thanks to technology!  

Applications such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet can help you attend a business meeting or class at the comfort of your home. Social media applications, on the other hand, make it possible to interact with friends and family.      

  • Quick access to information and learning platform   

Digital technology has made it possible to access information at almost no cost and create a learning platform. Need to know what’s happening in the world today? Or do you want to learn how to make your favorite dish? Whatever you want to get information on is just a button away!     

  • Efficient transport system     

Transportation has become more efficient due to digital technology. Whether you are in a new city and need to figure your way around, or visiting a new place locally, you won’t have to rely on tour guides or strangers to give you directions. All you need is a smart device to access the internet, and you’re good to go! 

Alternatively, you can use transport services such as Uber, which still rely on GPS, a digital technology product.     

  • Improved financial system     

Digital technology has enabled the creation of ATMs and online banking. With online banking, you can open a bank account and perform transactions without physically going to the bank. Cryptocurrencies are also slowly being adopted, which will become a game-changer in international dealings in the future.     

  • Entertainment     

Finally, digital technology is a massive form of recreation today. From video games to drones, streaming of music and shows, this is something that most people typically turn to when we need to unwind.   

The Bad: Negative Effects of Digital Technology   

With any invention, there’s a likelihood of a downside to it. Digital technology has negatively impacted society in several ways:     

  • Cybercrime, data insecurity, and terrorism   

People can quickly destroy computers after use, making it possible for offenders to commit numerous digital crimes. Although some are usually traceable, a significant number escape scot-free. 

Hackers can illegally access bank systems and wire themselves money digitally. They need not physically break into such institutions, and others, anymore. Digital technology has also made things easier for illegal traders on the black market.  

Moreover, technology has made it easy for private data collection for illegal activities without the owner’s consent.     

  • Reduced physical interactions   

With digital technology, social interaction has moved from physical to virtual. As much as this comes in handy regarding saving time and other resources, the lack of physical interactions may become detrimental to our health in the long run.    

Human beings are undeniably social creatures – we thrive from physical interactions with others, even strangers. Let’s not forget that technology makes it harder to pick up on most non-verbal cues. It’s become increasingly common to find gross misunderstandings due to the lack of visual or tonal references during digital interactions.     

  • Addiction     

From the moment we wake up, we turn to our phones or computers and stay glued to them throughout the day until just about bedtime. The global pandemic has further aggravated this situation since most people currently work from home using digital platforms.     

  • Unemployment     

Digital technology makes life easier by performing some human activities more efficiently. Therefore, every time there’s an advancement in digital technology, it’s highly likely that someone somewhere will lose their job.   

Final Thoughts 

Digital technology has made day to day activities much easier to handle by solving everyday problems. From communication to transport and entertainment, digital technology has proven to be inevitable in our lives today, and it seems like it is not going anywhere!