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In every corner of this world, from Mumbai to Madrid, one cannot escape a cafe or walk down across the street without noticing someone chatting, texting, or surfing the Internet using their laptops, cell phones or tablet computers. Information Technology has become universal and it is transforming every aspect of people lives. Recent advancement and the ability to process and communicate information in digital form, that is, a series of developments described as an Information Technology revolution, is reshaping the societies and economies of most of the countries across the world. Information Technology is a driving force in the progress of digital communication. Improvement in telecommunications, computer software, and hardware increases the people' ability to retrieve information and economic potential. Whereas advancements in IT based tools, for example, twitter, social networking websites and other Web 2.0 applications are continuously changing the way people share and use information for political, commercial, and personal purposes. These advancements, thus, caused efficiency gains in all sectors of the economy.
Digital communication drives the use of innovative resources to promote new ideas and products across cultures and nations, irrespective of graphic boundaries. Information technology by creating effective and efficient channels to share information has always been the accelerator for global integration. Solutions based upon, or innovated by, digital technology are available in every aspect of life; spread of information technology and its use continues to grow rapidly. There is a strong impact of changes occurring in communication technologies on all industries. This ranges from small restaurants taking online delivery orders to new auto technology, which cautious remote operators of a possible collision so that they may alert the driver. Throughout all sectors across the world, the changes are visible, they save time and permit businesses to use advanced solutions/innovations at lower prices. In this rapid scenario digital communication is changing the lives of people and impacts society, that’s why this paper is trying to analyze some of the key challenges from a high perspective (Archibugi 2009).
1. Effects of Digital Communication on the Organizations and People’s Lives.
The world, in which people live today, is largely different from that of yesterday. The youngsters and people of all age groups use pagers, laptops, cell phones, and instant messaging to connect with family, friends, and others in their society around the world. The bombardment of visual messages from the media targets to tap the millions in discretionary spending they influence or control. People of this generation look forward for actively participation in and through media; thus, these activities reduce the time spent by teens and youths watching television and they relatively increase time spent on surfing the Internet, playing gaming and using computers. A virtual world is on the fingertips of children and youth with all its pitfalls and promises. There is unanimous consent among the large subgroups of youths that the media possesses a strong influence on the lives of youth. Television dramas, which are close to reality, appeal especially to young girls and these programs appear to be a source of social influence (Arquilla 2008).
The media is a source that influences distinct aspects of the lives of youth: body image, food and beverage trends and fashion. Much related to these areas is the impact of the celebrities' culture, the emergence of personalities who are popular. This reflects the desire of youth to be famous by gathering friends on social networking websites and uploading clips to YouTube for 20 minutes of fame. The communication and Internet technologies have become an inherent part of the lives of most teens and youth. The intrinsic benefits of convenience, speed, mobility and flexibility afforded by the digital communication assist in shaping the culture of youth across the world, and most young people embrace this technology with open arms (Holahan 2007).
Interestingly, most teens and youth are more comfortable to accept the role of the media as an entertainment source than as a significant impact on their thinking or decision making. Many of those aged 18-25 years maintain a defensive attitude towards the likelihood of the media being an influence. The media is often portrayed as an unreliable and untrustworthy source of information and is considered as manipulative and prejudiced in the way it conveys messages. Most of the teens are media savvy, attentive to the potential effect of the digital media on their lives and more capable of using their own filtration on communications directed to them. Television is not spontaneously regarded as a source of authentic, reliable information. According to most, it gives some knowledge on what is going on around the globe through current affairs programs and news reports. However, despite the vast usage and impact of the Internet, TV still plays a role of entertainment rather than a source of information (Rosencrance 2012).
The Internet is growing in importance as a vehicle for social networking, information source, and the best provider of entertainment. It has become a provider of all answers to virtually asked question and, for the most part, an appropriate, trusted and fast source of information. Wikipedia and Google are the most frequented Internet sites in this regard. Younger generation use Internet not only to retrieve information and download movies and music, but to socialize, share or watch videos on YouTube, operate retail transactions and banking and update themselves with current affairs through news sites. Use of social networking sites and YouTube by younger generation, however, dominate. The access to Internet enables young generation to watch what they want, where they want, and when they want (Arquilla 2008).
1.1 Implications to Macro and Micro Environments.
In the early 1990s, the digital divide was characterized as the technology access gap translated into inequalities in economic, educational, civil, and social opportunities among different sections of the society. Since then, educationists have understood that access is the only first step. Equally significant are vigorous home access and the individuals’ readiness to use technology, information, and communication networks effectively, productively, and efficiently (Carnoy 2000).
According to the Public Broadcasting’s report of 2003, related to the future, today digital access has become more a factor of high income than ethnicity. Since the possibility of teenagers to access Internet at home is growing, the life and school tasks are becoming more Internet dependent, and with quality content becoming higher bandwidth, students with low income face a tremendous disadvantage. This disparity increased the pressure on schools to offer Internet access for all children. In most homes and schools now students have an access to technology, which has been the first foremost step towards the digital age. Educational experts demand to shift the emphasis on how to apply technology to achieve educational objectives by all students who are graduating from high school and attending college. They also demand that educators and parents ensure children are wisely spending their and developing skills essential for successful living, working, and learning in the 21st century (Becta 2008).
IT experts state, with regard to labor, that now people are living in a new economy fueled by information, powered by technology, and knowledge driven, and because of this, the impact of technology bound to go beyond faster communications, as reorganized and redefined skills will attract higher wages. Despite the bust and boom of the dot-com, according to the University of California, Berkeley, the implementation of IT business solutions has already produced a current, cumulative cost saving of $ 166.3 billion to U.S companies. Digital Economy 2000 attributes significant productivity gains since 1994 to Information Technology, and it is resulting in organizational change, despite the economic crisis that started in 2001 and the economic slowdown caused by repercussions of September 11. Many economists also view technological change as a key factor in deciding wages when considering the rapid technology diffusion during the last 20 years (Face book Statistics 2012).
Some studies evaluate that, on average Information Technology jobs pay 80% more than other jobs. Further, Digital Economy 2002 informs that an average wage per person in IT sector is almost twice the national average wage, i.e. $ 74,900 compared to $36,000 for all employees engaged in private organizations. Even in non-IT organizations, technologically skilled workers earn higher wages than those without these skills. The workers who use computer at work are likely to earn 17 to 25 percent more than other employees. The increased competition and rapid change require that employees should use soft skills to adapt quickly to changing technologies in organizational structures (Dailey 2010).
1.2. Recommendations, Proposals and Effective Measures to Reduce the Issues.
Multicultural literacy in digital communication is the ability to appreciate and recognize the differences and similarities in the values, beliefs, and customs of one’s own culture and the culture of others. The growth of the virtual worlds, chat-rooms, e-mail, virtual classrooms, and multiplayer gaming environments, interaction of individuals from different societies and cultures was unimaginable a decade ago. As e-communication and e-commerce, and advancement in transportation that brings the world closer, it is necessary for people to understand and appreciate diversity of other cultures and values. In order to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds, individuals must show their attitudes towards appreciation, learning and recognition of beliefs and values of cultures that drive them. These characteristics are essentials of multicultural literacy, which is broader than it has been earlier. First, it must incorporate newly developing cultures such as chat rooms and virtual work places environments. Second, it must recognize the nature and influence of culture provided by technology, which will continue to impact other cultures worldwide (Cope 2000).
Such interaction include such as e-mails, videoconference with peers form different nations to enhance proficiency in language, sharing viewpoints on international events and participating in a shared environmental project.
The advancement of digital communication has accelerated many problems related to social and civil responsibility. Social and civil responsibility is the capability to manage technology and direct its use in a manner, which promotes public interest and protects society, democratic ideals and, the environment. Given today’s rapid changing rate, technological advancements often lead to public agreement on the civil and social implications of those advances. People need time to evaluate and discover emerging technologies, adopting some and discarding others. In a democratic society, all citizens possess rights to use and access information, but they also own a responsibility to use it in an ethical manner, weighing such issues as security versus privacy, intellectual property versus freedom of electronic speech, and the effect of digital communication technologies on current and future generations. All nations have their laws to protect the rights of IT and depreciation of such issues leads to legal consequences.
People also need to understand their role in transforming public policy besides being civically and socially responsible. The federal government policy action, which focuses on social responsibility, is the Children’s Internet Protection 2000 Act that demands that all libraries and schools funded should use filters to block objectionable materials. While everyone agrees on the need of IT safety, this approach of obtaining such measures continue to be controversial. All institutions and schools must promote the growth of competent citizens and channelize their skills into the right direction for promotion and development of their careers. In short, students and young people should be attentive to all sensitive information and actively participate in public policy debates, which arise with the technological change (Valentine 2005).
The Internet provides people with options for entertainment and information sourcing. Its strength is that teenagers can embrace information technology in their daily lives. The primary purpose of the digital technology is a source of information, but it has become more beneficial as a channel for social networking and providing entertainment. All studies maintain that IT is a crucial aspect of the way in which people communicate these days. Young people are aware of the advancements made in communication technology on a daily bases. They embrace the use of Information Technology in texting, social networking and cellular phones. Recent researches establish the deep penetration of the IT and broadband in American households. The findings in this article also show that young people and teens are the early embracers of the communication technology and they significantly influence it. These days, teenagers grow up with changing technology, and they adapt intuitively to the changes. Young people's adoption to digital technology, as an inherent part of their lives, recommends that communicators must ensure the incorporation of such advanced technology in communication but, most significantly, they should use it properly.