Our lives depend on technology. In recent years, technology became introduced to almost every part of our society. The proliferation of personal computers, electronic systems, and smartphones changed the way people interact with the world and led to profound changes in human behavior. The internet brought upon the age of instant access to an unmeasurable amount of information, previously impossible to encounter in one lifetime. Hundreds of studies were done to understand its impact on our world. This literature review will cover articles about three impacts of technology that people encounter in their daily lives and show if there are any gaps in current research.
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Sectors of Impact
Observed literature shows that in recent years technology had a dramatic impact on communication. Most studies find that the rise of the internet changed both the accessibility and nature of society’s communication. Social networks are available on personal computers and smartphones, leading to almost constant communication between people (Sarwar & Soomro, 2017). The proliferation of social networks is described as both a positive and negative impact of technology. Social media sites like Twitter created a unique form of communication. Twitter allowed people to have near-instantaneous access to celebrities, politicians, and other prominent figures of society on a previously unavailable level (Bruns & Moe, 2014). Some studies show that this type of access has led to situations where people of influence helped others, who contacted them by raising awareness of issues or their predicaments. On the other hand, it has shown that Twitter can be used as an effective tool of abuse and harassment (Baym, 2014), echoed by experiences with other social networks (Dressing, Bailer, Anders, Wagner, & Gallas, 2014).
Although social networks existed before the spread of smartphones, smartphones introduced them to a much larger audience. One study finds that people are more likely to use social network programs than call or text others. Issues with possible “addiction” to smartphones and social networks are also indicated as a problem (Sarwar & Soomro, 2017). The research is unfortunately limited by the vast amount of data available for the networks, so it is hard to conclude whether it has a positive or adverse effect on society.
Reviewed studies suggest that technology had a mostly positive impact on the healthcare system. Three standalone studies were reviewed and one meta-analysis of a large amount of data on the topic. These studies were focused on implementing health information technology for the management of health records and financial management systems. The studies observed a multitude of positive effects. Electronic health records have led to a reduction in documentation time, higher guidance adherence, lower number of medication errors, and adverse drug effects (Campanella et al., 2015). The hospitals’ expenses have also been positively affected by the implementation of technology, with a reduction in operating expenses (Bardhan & Thouin, 2013).
Patient flow in the observed hospitals has also been streamlined, making for a more comfortable hospital experience (Devaraj, Ow, & Kohli, 2013). Ten recommendations were proposed, including monitoring IT systems, creating a common user interface style guide, developing educational campaigns on the safe and effective use of electronic health records, and others (Middleton et al., 2013). Another important result of these studies is that a decrease in the quality of medical care in these hospitals has not been recorded (Bardhan & Thouin, 2013). One aspect that was not covered in the presented studies is the employees’ training, how long such implementation should optimally take, and what amount of resources it would cost to an average hospital. However, the research on this topic is extensive and shows the impact of technology to be a positive one.
The impact of technology on education is not as evident as its impact on healthcare. Studies on technologically enhanced education found that the evidence for its effect is hard to define and evaluate. This issue seems to stem from the nature of evidence gathered by previous studies on the subject. The majority of the evidence concerned only a local level of evidence with little to no macro-evidence (Price & Kirkwood, 2013). A significant difference in evidence sought between case studies and peer-reviewed journals.
Case studies on the topic tended to focus on which implementation methods presented practical results, while journals presented evidence to show why these methods work. Although these differences do not conflict with each other, they still create issues for people trying to create a clear definition of technologically enhanced education and find a proper evaluation (Kirkwood & Price, 2013a). Some of the presented literature reviews show how most studies focus on replicating and supplementing existing teaching with enhanced teaching but do not provide information about how this technology changes the process of teaching and learning (Kirkwood & Price, 2013b).
A lack of critical inquiry and a limited range of research methods and approaches were cited as some of these studies’ main issues (Price & Kirkwood, 2013). One of the more detailed studies concerned the adoption of technology by teachers with different technological awareness and aptitude levels. Its results show how teachers who are already invested in technology are more likely to implement technology in their teaching. In contrast, less technologically savvy teachers are more likely to fall back on traditional teaching methods (Aldunate & Nussbaum, 2013). The gaps in the information of the reviewed articles are very clear. Further research focusing on gathering macro-evidence of the impact of technology on education is critical for its evaluation.
Reviewed studies show very varied results. The impact of technology on human communication can be considered the most dramatic. In the last 30 years, we have changed our behavior more ways than we did hundreds of years prior. This brought many issues and benefits, and it is still too early to tell whether it was all worth it. The research for both points of view is present. According to information from this review, the impact on healthcare is very promising. With streamlining of the hospital experience, quality of life should improve altogether. However, the lack of research on education presents previously unexpended concerns. With no clear definition of how education should be enhanced by technology and without macro-evidence, it is hard to present a clear plan for the future of enhanced education. Further research on this and other topics should be considered due to the widespread presence of technology in our lives.
Aldunate, R., & Nussbaum, M. (2013). Teacher adoption of technology. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 519-524. Web.
Bardhan, I., & Thouin, M. (2013). Health information technology and its impact on the quality and cost of healthcare delivery. Decision Support Systems, 55(2), 438-449. Web.
Baym, N. (2014). The perils and pleasures of tweeting with fans. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt & C. Puschmann, Twitter and society. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Bruns, A., & Moe, H. (2014). Structural layers of communication on twitter. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt & C. Puschmann, Twitter and society (1st ed.). New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Campanella, P., Lovato, E., Marone, C., Fallacara, L., Mancuso, A., Ricciardi, W., & Specchia, M. (2015). The impact of electronic health records on healthcare quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The European Journal of Public Health, 26(1), 60-64. Web.
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Devaraj, S., Ow, T., & Kohli, R. (2013). Examining the impact of information technology and patient flow on healthcare performance: A theory of swift and even flow (TSEF) perspective. Journal of Operations Management, 31(4), 181-192. Web.
Dressing, H., Bailer, J., Anders, A., Wagner, H., & Gallas, C. (2014). Cyberstalking in a large sample of social network users: Prevalence, characteristics, and impact upon victims. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(2), 61-67. Web.
Kirkwood, A. & Price, L. (2013a). Missing: evidence of a scholarly approach to teaching and learning with technology in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(3), 327-337. Web.
Kirkwood, A., & Price, L. (2013b). Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in higher education: what is ‘enhanced’ and how do we know? A critical literature review. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(1), 6-36. Web.
Middleton, B., Bloomrosen, M., Dente, M., Hashmat, B., Koppel, R., Overhage, J., … Zhang, J. (2013). Enhancing patient safety and quality of care by improving the usability of electronic health record systems: recommendations from AMIA. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 20(e1), e2-e8. Web.
Price, L., & Kirkwood, A. (2013). Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(3), 549-564. Web.
Sarwar, M., & Soomro, T. (2017). Impact of smartphones on society. European Journal of Scientific Research, 98(2), 216-226.