While technology systems have undoubtedly brought us a wide range of benefits to our lives, both in the work place and in our private lives, there are undoubtedly some issues related to their use too.
We have seen more and more news stories of hacking and computer viruses that has affected business’ heavily. We’ve also all seen stories of copyright piracy and it’s impact on the tv, film and music industry.
There have also been a lot of concerns over the impact of these systems on our health and our environment.
In this lesson we will learn about the issues relating to:
- Health & Safety
- The Environment
- Privacy & Copyright
1. Health & Safety
The use of technology systems has raised a number of health & safety concerns that users of ICT systems must be aware of to ensure they are not affected. A number of laws have been passed to ensure business’ take the health & safety of ICT users seriously.
Some of the issues include:
- Back Problems – Users of technology systems can often suffer from back problems due to the heavy use of the systems. Users can often lean forward over their keyboard rather than sitting with good posture and this causes strain on the back. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Adjustable chairs
- Monitors that tilt
- Foot rests
- Eye Strain – Working in front of a computer for long periods of time can lead to eye strain which can cause blurred vision, nausea & headaches. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Taking frequent breaks
- Sitting in a well lit room
- Reducing screen glare
- Ensuring a good distance is kept between user and monitor
- RSI – This stands for Repetitive Strain Injury and it is a general term to describe the pain felt in the hands, arms, shoulders & neck from heavily repetitive movements being performed when using a technology system. This could be caused by typing at a keyboard or using the mouse for long periods of time for example. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Frequent breaks
- Ergonomic keyboards and mice
- Wrist rests
- Maintaining good posture
- Trip Hazards – Technology systems usually involve a lot of cables such as power cables, network cables and peripheral device cables such as for a mouse, keyboard or monitor. These can lead to major hazards which could lead to injury to an employee if they were to trip over any trailing cables. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Cables are well concealed behind tables, under carpets or through cable ducts.
Look at how you are sat at your computer. Is the top of the monitor at eye level? Is your face around 18 inches from the screen? Are you sat with a straight back? All these should be true if you don’t want to hurt yourself.
Also, look around you. Are there any loose cables around you that you could trip over? What could you do, or is being done, to prevent any trip hazards?
Technology systems, especially those connected to the internet, are potentially at risk from security threats. These security threats are normally caused by malicious users who want to gain information from a computer in order to financially profit from it.
There have been laws put in place to help reduce these threats but they still exist and are a major cause for concern.
Example security issues include:
- Malware – Short for malicious software, malware are small programs that are designed to attack computer systems. Examples include viruses, spyware, worms & trojans. These attacks might be to prevent a system from working or possibly to steal data for identity theft and bank fraud. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Hacking – This is the gaining of unauthorised access to a technology system. Malicious users known as hackers will use a variety of techniques to force their way into a system so that they can read, alter, delete & steal information. Any data stolen can then be used for blackmail, identity theft and bank fraud. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Use firewall software
- Using sufficiently complicated passwords.
Have you ever been affected by a virus or other malicious software?
Research online about some of the best known cases of viruses and hacking that have affected business’.
3. The Environment
In many ways technology systems have had a positive impact on the environment. The internet has reduced the need for travelling which can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released due to less cars on the road and planes in the air. It has also led to less need for paper as documents can be stored on a computer and sent to other people via the internet.
However there are environmental issues relating to the use of technology systems. Examples include:
- Pollution – The manufacturing and running of technology systems can produce air, water, heat and noise pollution. For example you need electricity to run a computer and this electricity will likely be supplied through fossil fuels which affects environmental sustainability. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Purchasing energy efficient ICT equipment
- Setting guidelines for turning off machines when not in use
- Ensure power management features are implemented on devices
- Technotrash – Huge quantities of electronic devices as discarded each year. These technology systems that we throw away is known as e-trash or technotrash and is becoming an increasing problem with handling their disposal, not just because of the quantity but also because they often contain hazardous materials that affect the environment. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Recycle all outdated technology
How much technotrash do you personally produce each year? Think of any computing devices you have discarded such as an old phone or computer.
Research how much technotrash is produced each year and it’s impacts on the environment.
4. Privacy & Copyright
There has been a lot of concern over how much data is being shared by technology systems, such as over the internet. In particular the amount of private information we share online and the illegal distribution of copyrighted tv, film & music.
These issues are a huge concern with the use of technology systems. For example:
- Privacy – We share our bank information with online shops, our personal information & photos on social media and we send private conversations using email and instant messaging. Malicious ICT users might try to steal our personal information for identity fraud, bank fraud or blackmail purposes. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Set appropriate privacy settings on social media accounts
- Limit the amount of private information is published online
- Set secure passwords and regularly change them so your account cannot be hacked
- Copyright – A lot of copyright material is being illegally distributed online. It is common for things like films, software and music to be shared using things like online streaming services and bittorrents. This is illegal due to the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act, but it still happens a lot. Businesses must ensure they don’t use copyright material without permission. Methods for preventing this from impacting you include:
- Set clear policies on the installation of software within your business to prevent pirate software being installed.
How much of your personal information do you share online? Have you ever thought about the dangers of doing so?
Research stories about people’s personal information being stolen online and the impact it has had on them.
Malware – small programs that are designed to attack computer systems such as viruses, spyware, worms & trojans.
Anti-Virus – a program that is designed to prevent viruses and other malware from infecting your computer before they can cause damage.
Firewall – a program that monitors all data being transferred to and from a computer system and closing down any connections that it thinks might be harmful.
Sustainability – in the context of the environment this is the use of environmental resources in a way that does not damage and deplete them and so allows for long term environmental quality.
Encryption – the process of turning data into another form, called ciphertext, that cannot be understood without being decrypted.
So to summarise what we’ve learnt in this lesson:
- The use of technology systems has raised a number of health & safety concerns that affect users of ICT systems such as back pain, eye strain, rsi & trip hazards.
- Technology systems, especially those connected to the internet, are potentially at risk from security threats. This includes malware, such as viruses, and hackers.
- In many ways technology systems have had a positive impact on the environment. However there have also been negative impacts such as water, air, heat & noise pollution as well as technotrash.
- There has been a lot of concern over how much data is being shared by technology systems, such as over the internet. In particular the amount of private information we share online and the illegal distribution of copyrighted tv, film & music.