It is hard to imagine 10 years ago, computers were still relatively new to lower and middle income households. A Gateway computer from the 90's cost over 1,000 dollars. It had a big and bulky screen that had to be placed a few feet from the wall. America Online was the king of Internet service providers, came with only 4 screen names, and connected through a telephone line for a little over $20 dollars a month. Now, you place a wireless card in your portable laptop, and you can connect from a local coffee shop for free.
Computers and the Internet have created a digital world of knowledge and accessibility.
The Generation Gap
There are some who will always stay ahead of the curve with technology. There will be those, on the other hand, who constantly need a helping hand with emailing. It can be frustrating on either end of the scope. The baby boomers are taking the digital age head on.
Working as a part time assistant to a retired special events planner, I have helped her many times with copying and pasting an item into an email. Some need more help with just figuring out how to turn on a computer. With all the constant showing of how to do this and do that, there are benefits of the older individual going online in our society.
Baby boomers can now reach out to the Internet when they need help. It is now much easier for baby boomers to order things they need, such as food. Going online and ordering the groceries you need delivered to your home easier and more efficient. Those with eye problems can get a visual look at everything they are ordering, in case they might order the wrong thing.
The Internet has also helped older individuals connect with each other. Baby boomers are still less likely to go online, compared to the 18-29 demographic, according to an article by The Associated Press. However, baby boomers are more likely to send or receive email on a given day, 54 percent versus 49 percent.
More importantly, those with ailments can gain information about their disease and whether a doctor's visit is in order. Sixty six percent of baby boomers, according to the same article in the Associated Press, have used the Internet to gain more about health issues.
At Work and In Business
Computers have created a world of opportunities. New jobs have entered the market because of the dependency on computers. The job market in computers is expected to grow in numbers and lead to high starting salaries. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2005-2006, the average computer engineer major made $53,096 as their starting salary. Compare that to entry level management of a company, who made $38,408 in their first year.
Small business owners have benefited greatly with the use of computers and Internet. Small business owners can use Microsoft programs like Excel to create employee schedules and Quicken for all of their monetary needs. The Internet allows them to reach a wider audience they never would've before with just print ads. Websites allow year round advertising, rather than a few color spots a year in the local Pennysaver.
The Online College Experience
The back-to-school adult has always been a part of society. Unfortunately, they have to work and provide for families, plus go to night school. There isn't technology yet for us to be in two places at once. When one can't go to school in person due to real life commitments, there is the option of going to school online. Many online universities have surfaced in the past few years. People can now learn from the comfort of their home, and possibly give them a better life.
In an article with the Washington Post, the education firm Eduventures states that the number of students in online colleges has more than doubled in the past few years, from 484,113 students in 2002 to 1.5 million in 2006. By 2009, it is projected that one in 10 students will be enrolled in an online degree program. What seemed like a hokey, or maybe fake a few years ago, online universities maybe the way of the future.
Real life universities are also in the digital age. Many schools, like St John's University in Queens, NY, provide students with a laptop throughout their time in college. Schools also have several computer labs, for those who don't have computers or who need a certain program that they don't have on their computer.
Privacy is a major issue in society. Identity theft is the number one crime in America. There have been programs, like Log Me In, that allow users to access someone else's computer, as long as they are signed onto the program. While all of that is perfectly legal, a very skilled hacker can log themselves onto any person's desktop and steal private information.
As for the Internet, the numbers are low for identity theft online. Only 10% of the cases occur online. However, those who use the traditional method of stealing postal mail, will use the Internet to flesh out the person's identity.
Pennies For Words
Recently, the Writer Guild of America has demanded studios to pay them for the shows that air on the Internet. In the current contract, there was no compensation for the many times people watch a television show or movie on the Internet. Even though, the studios were making money from the advertisements that play during the episodes online. The Internet has put Hollywood to a stand still, and left many behind the scenes people and actors without jobs.
Computers and the Internet are here to stay. A few years ago, no one could imagine the dependency of computers we have today. There is no escaping how much our world will continue to change because of it. Computers and the Internet have set out to change our society, and will continue to affect us many years into the future.