Written by Ahmad Fathan Aniq

Throughout history, many technological tools have been invented. In the beginning, they were made in very simple shapes but then became highly developed into more innovative forms. In the last fifty years, there are two important inventions which cannot be ignored. They are the internet, which was invented in 1973, and the mobile phone which was invented in 1983. Both of these two inventions have had a big impact on society. On the one hand, they have many advantages for human beings. However, on the other hand, they also have disadvantages. Below I will mention at a glance, both the advantages and disadvantages of the internet and the mobile phone.

The first is the internet. It was initially developed in 1973 by an American computer scientist Vinton Cerf. The internet is a worldwide network of thousands of computer units. This technology can connect one person in a certain part of the world to other people in other parts. It makes no geographical separations and has no borders. Every piece of information can be sent very quickly through the internet. This possibility, however, creates advantages for those who want to gain benefit from it; simultaneously it becomes a big gateway for those who want to commit crime.

It is obvious that the internet will change our way of life quickly or slowly. It touches all aspects of our society’s education, business, government, and private life. Through the internet, students can get all kind of information regarding their subject of study. Only by a click, will they find what they are looking for. People can also make a purchase in this abstract world. Moreover, nowadays many banks have provided internet-banking services. Customers can make many transactions just by sitting in front of their computers. Appointments, information, announcements, news and everything else can be made and shared without requiring someone to meet personally with others. Generally, the internet has made everything easier to do.

However, the internet has also created some disadvantages. Many parents complain that they have lost their quality time with their children when the children have internet connections in their room. Children tend to spend their time in front of computers searching for everything uncontrollably. Meanwhile, students and academics sometime quote information and data from the internet illegally, which is called plagiarism. Some others use the internet to spread invalid news and manipulated pictures. By spreading this information, perhaps they aim to pressure somebody to give them some money. In addition, hackers are able to find ways of stealing other people’s property through this cyber medium. They can buy very expensive and luxurious things using other people’s bank account numbers.

The second is the mobile phone which is sometimes called a hand phone (HP). World communications owe much to Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel. They were the inventors of the mobile telephone in 1983.There is no doubt that the mobile phone offers many advantages for a human being’s life. It not only makes a long distance become shorter but also makes everyone able to communicate on the move everywhere and at any time. Using the mobile phone, we can dial immediately to the exact person we want. Other people also are able to contact us any time without waiting for their calls at home. It really saves our time.

However, the picture is not all good. Mobile phones, at the same time, can create disadvantages, for instance trouble with human health and social changes. Electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phone potentially affect human brains. This negative impact has received little attention from users of cellular phones until recently. What is more, people also often pay less attention to what is going on around them when they are talking on a mobile phone. This attitude will be very dangerous if they do it in certain situations for example when driving a car.

Nevertheless, the most negative impact of cellular phones I think is about social disorder. The ability to make frequent contact with families usually reduces the need to meet face-to-face with them. This phenomenon inconsiderably creates a distance in personal relationships among societies.

Finally, every technological invention has its positive and negative effects on society. When these technologies create disadvantages, governments only can make regulations on environmental and safety issues. They do not guarantee to save society from its social effect. The responsibility lies in users’ hands. They can determine what society should be.

Leiden, 14 June 2007