Implementing IT programs in schools, however, has met with some resistance from teaching staff who have not themselves received training and support and may feel vulnerable about the changing roles and methods in education. Keeping effective home accounts, playing computer games, shopping on the internet and emailing friends are all typical uses for the home PC (Personal Computer). The ways in which we entertain ourselves and even listen to music have been strongly influenced by computer technology, Williams (1999).
Access to music has been revolutionised with the aid of hardware such as the Apple Macintosh Ipod capable of downloading MP3 music files from the Internet. Copyright laws are unenforceable and frequently ignored to the outrage of the record companies and the artists. For all the positive practical uses for computers in the home there are clearly some areas of concern and potential danger. Chat rooms have become potential grooming grounds for paedophiles with unsuspecting children. In response to this problem Bill Gates’ Microsoft Corporation took the radical decision earlier this year to close all of its chat rooms.
Computers have been blamed for some negative changes in children’s behavior. Evidence suggests that activities such as playing violent computer games can shape behaviour in children. It is argued that children with access to computers at home play outside less, exercise and interact face to face with friends and family far less. The spoken word becomes less important in social interaction as Starling concurs: We access the Internet as individuals, rarely groups. We work alone and entertain ourselves alone. We write emails and talk less on the telephone – a different social interaction favoring different skills.
The Internet is changing us as individuals, not just society. Starling (2000 p3) We have adapted our language to accommodate the terminology of this new technology with a completely new vocabulary. Words such as boot up, online, email, ecommerce, and the numerous acronyms, such as IT, PC, www, . com @, etc. have evolved to become part of our everyday language. We have devised new etiquettes in communication; for example using caps in an email is viewed as shouting, Gabey (2000). For good or for bad, computers have had a profound effect on the key sociological institutions of work, education and family life as this essay has discussed.
These far-reaching effects upon global society are not stationary; they are continuing and evolving, constantly changing and adapting at a tremendous pace. We cannot plot progress or predict what may happen next in our new computerised world however we must accept that for good or bad the future holds many exciting possibilities.
References Crompton, R. (1999) Restructuring Gender Relations and Employment. Oxford; Oxford University Press. Gabay, J. (2000) Successful Cybermarketing. London; Hodder and Stoughton Educational. Harolambos, M. Holborn, M.and Heald, R. (2000) Sociology Themes and Perspectives. (5th ed. ) London: Collins Educational Starling, A. (2000).
The Internet and Society. available from: – http://www. webdevelopersjournal. com/columns/ajs_internet_effect_society. html Taylor, P. et al. (2000) Sociology in Focus. Bath: The Bath Press. Williams, G. (1998) Student Handbook for Information Technology. Cambridge; Pearsons Publishing. Computer Tools for Social Scientists SOB 1023 1 of 5 Computers in Society from a Sociological perspective. 0361456 10/05/07.