Can digital technologies solve all of our problems?

Digital technologies are the electronic resources that use data in some way, whether through generating, storing or processing data. Examples of this are social media, games, iPhones etc. (Victorian Government, 2019). There are the pros and cons of all forms of digital technology, so it’s natural to wonder whether digital media can solve all of our problems?

I feel frustrated with this question because it seems so obvious. I consider myself a digital native which means I have grown up being naturally familiar with the digital world and having a sound understanding of it. Some also claim that digital natives have been able to develop various digitally technological skills (Bennett et al., 2008). From personal experiences, the influence of social media does more damage than good. On a poll from a pop culture page on Instagram, 80% of people agreed with the statement that ‘life was better without social media’ (@90ssclassy, 2021). I understood this as people actively using Instagram believe that social media negatively impacts one’s life and would rather life without it. Personally, social media can result in feeling very low about myself after seeing other people’s perfect bodies or luxurious lives, and is the reason I voted ‘agree’.

(@90ssclassy, Instagram, 2021)

From this perspective, social media definitely does not solve any problems and instead adds to them. However, we must consider another angle. A news article from United Nations (2018) discusses how as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, technology can help transition from “carbon-intensive growth” (UN, 2018 pg 1) to a more sustainable Earth and reduce climate change. It claims to achieve this by producing jobs for disadvantaged groups and create more intelligent and sustainable cities through advanced transport systems and natural resources. This is a much more positive approach towards technology and I can agree that if this all occurs, technology could solve many big problems that the world suffers from.

This driving question can be more easily understood using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1988) which I’m currently using to help thoroughly uncover ideas and answers. By also understanding what a digital native is, (which was spoken about in this unit — and I will also go into more depths about for my next blog post) we can truly understand all elements and groups involved in deconstructing this question.

I have learnt that technology can definitely improve climate change and other issues if large organisations (like the UN) and governments commit to changing their own ways and larger scale societal resources/activities. As a teacher, I would use this material and knowledge to educate my students to be critical of all big questions. Many would argue that digital technologies can truly solve everything, but I would always advise using your own personal experiences and feelings first and research the opposite point of view (by viewing all information). By 2030 I will be a qualified teacher, so the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be a great reflection for the classroom. We can see whether it has in fact been achieved and if not, create classroom debate about the topic and how the technologies of 2030 can improve climate change and worldly issues from that point onwards.

References:

90ssclassy [@90ssclassy]. (2021, February 26). [Instagram profile]. Instagram. https://instagram.com/90ssclassy?igshid=udkn3qqvm7dk

Bennett, S., Maton, K. and Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39, 775–786. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00793.x

Department of Education and Training. (2019, September 25). Teach with digital technologies. Victorian State Government. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/digital/Pages/teach.aspx

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford: Oxford Further Education Unit https://hhs.hud.ac.uk/lqsu/Sessionsforall/supp/Gibbs%201988%20reflective%20cycle.pdf

United Nations. (2018, May 2). Can science and technology really help solve global problems? A UN forum debates vital question. https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/intergovernmental-coordination/2018-ecosoc-integration-segment.html

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