Thursday, 1 March 2007

Abuse of Technology

Rapid advances and continuous innovation in technology have made the world a smaller place. Internet has made it possible to access information and to communicate free of charge to a person sitting at the other end of the world from the comfort of one's home and just at the click of a button. Gone are the days when one had to scream into the telephone mouth piece to be heard at the other end and ended up with a hoarse voice as a reminder of the ordeal. Internet has made it possible to do voice conferencing via messaging tools such as Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Rediff Messenger to name a popular few. It is also possible to video conference with your loved ones using webcams.

It is amazing how technology has slowly sneaked into our lives and has become a part of our day to day activities even without our conscious knowledge. We have all seen the way cell phones are no longer considered a fashionable gadget for the gadget freaks out there to show off. They have now become an absolutely essential accessory for everyone to have. Carrying one brings us loads of confidence and security and the knowledge that our loved ones are just a phone call away and are reachable anytime, anywhere at the press of a few buttons. Long queues for making electricity, water, telephone and other bill payments are things of the past. Payments can now be made online. Online banking and trading are the buzzwords of today's generation. Online shopping is also catching up and busy working people having little time to browse stores for their favorite authors or buy their favorite labels can now order their favorite authors, favorite music and their favorite pair of jeans online and collect them at their doorstep without having to step outside their homes (they just need to make a teeny-weeny bit of effort, enough to answer the doorbell).

Sadly, this cutting edge technology and convenience comes with a few downsides as well. Information is easily accessible online. The other day, I got a strange call on my cell phone from a leading insurance company congratulating me because my "number" had been chosen for insurance coverage. Easy access to information has resulted in new kinds of crime such as cases of credit card frauds and password hackers. The stalkers of earlier times have now been replaced by the tech savvy "web stalkers" who follow and keep constant watch on people's every move online. Pedophiles are harassing teenagers across the world. It all starts with friendly conversations and innocent children doing small things for these people like, for instance, taking off their shirts and before they know it, they are literally caught in the "web" of abuse. Pornography has also found a new channel through numerous porn websites and online videos.

This abuse of technology and gross misuse of information has to be tackled and severed at its roots before it spreads out of control. Parents should educate their children on the kind of harm that could come from internet and try to restrict their online activities only to fun and educational websites. Software giants such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Google should make a special effort and pioneer activities in the area of internet security and come up with applications that make technology fun and safe. Cell phone companies should also strive harder at protecting their customers' identity. With a little education and awareness, technology can indeed be made fun, secure and useful.

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