From the late 1980s to the early 2000s, the world witnessed one of the greatest advancements in science and massive development in computer technology. This period ushered in a new era through mass production of personal computers.
It is not an exaggeration to say that information technology has revolutionised the world. Business , learning, entertainment and many more have been made easier and more accessible due to information technology, to the extent that many activities today depend hugely on the Internet. The traditional means of performing such actions have been abandoned.
Today’s youths were raised largely in a period when computers and technological gadgets were fast becoming life’s essentials. Many of them learn how to operate computers as early as age five.
Their early introduction to computers and gadgets and the important roles they played in their formative years have influenced them to a large extent. Many trends brought by the Internet and computers such as social media platforms form an essential part of their living.
Many years ago, there were no hashtags, search engines, facetiming, e-stores, or e-books. There was simply no “e-anything.” But despite the huge positive impact of technology on youths, it also has its drawbacks on them.
The famous English statesman and former Prime Minister, Winston Churchill once said “Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” In the absence of innovation and creativity, life would be a long monotonous stretch of time. Innovation is the air that development and advancement breathe.
It is also vital that many civilisations have either been made or eroded by its presence or absence.
In previous times, the youth have been known to be the bedrock of innovation and creativity. Young men and women were known to be at the forefront of innovation in art, business, governance and many other areas. Many of today’s historical figures who made grand inventions in their various fields had two common features: Youthfulness and creativity. In fact, youths were relied on as agents of social change because of their energy.
In recent times, the critical role of youths as agents of change has long been forgotten due to their inability to create or innovate. Innovation is now a virtue possessed only by a handful of young people and a major cause of this is the emergence of information technology.
Writer and political commentator, Walter Lipman, once said, “When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” It is true that information technology has brought about great advancement to the world. Through its application, access to knowledge has become surprisingly easy and fast, communication painless, and entertainment more interesting. With it, there is stability, predictability, and assurance; to the extent that with a push of a button, anything can be done or undone and performing day-to-day activities have become systematic.
The overreliance on the Internet for almost everything by the youth has reduced initiative. The Internet simply tells what to do and how to do it, what to think and how to think. Opinions of various individuals on issues have become so repetitive and easily accepted that they have now turned facts. The importance of unconventional thinking and radical perception has been downplayed. It is understandable that change easily becomes a detestable option when placed in contrast with stability. However, we must understand that no advancement comes without change.
Renaissance artist Pablo Picasso expressed this same opinion when he said, “every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”
Regardless of this, all hope is not lost. The solution is that youths must learn to depend less on the knowledge of other people. We must embrace critical thinking and rely more on knowledge obtained from personal experiences.
We must explore the depths of youthful vitality, for that is the only route towards progressive impact.
In concluding, it is instructive to ponder on the words of the American inventor and engineer, Charles Kettering, that “All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new.”