You've heard it before. We live in a digital age and technology is changing everything. From how we learn to how we communicate to how we do business, it is all different thanks to the explosion of all things "techy." But is all this change for the better? Let's look at what is different and whether or not we should celebrate.

Communication

Technology has not only changed communication it has revolutionized it. Goodbye, are the days of blind dates. That's not even a thing anymore. Thanks to technology, you can research someone on social media platforms and have a pretty good idea who they are, what they do and what they like before you even see the whites of their eyes. You can apply for a job online and never step foot in the building.

If you don't want to, you technically (no pun intended) don't have to speak to another human. You can email, text, tweet and snap to your heart's content without ever hearing someone's voice. That might be okay if we are trying to raise a generation of anti-socials, but is that our goal? Probably not. Countless studies have shown that youth (and adults) spend hours upon hours in front of screens, and if they go without their device for an extended period of time (like 24 hours) they begin to feel lonely and exhibit symptoms of withdrawal.

Like anything else, there has to be balance. We can celebrate the ease and convenience of technology-driven communication but still need to foster face to face relationships and verbal conversations.

Education

Education has benefitted greatly from the increase in technology. Or has it? With technology, we get to say goodbye to outdated textbooks and instead utilize immediate online resources for reading and studying. The internet has a wealth of options for learning, tutoring and collaborating, but does online learning affect us the same way hands-on learning does?

While some parents and teachers argue that technology in the classroom has resulted in innovation, there is just as vocal a group of parents and teachers that say we are making a big mistake by relying so heavily on technology.

The jury is still out on whether or not we have overdone it with technology in the classroom, but one thing remains a truth. No technology, no matter how state of the art, can replace a qualified, passionate teacher. Teachers cannot simply turn on a device and expect it to teach the students for them. Technology and electronic devices should supplement learning, not take the place of it. There is a big difference between having access to information and actually understanding it. That is where the teacher comes in.

Business

It seems to be a no brainer that technology belongs in business. Global corporations wouldn’t exist the way they do today without the benefit of technology. Wealthy businessmen around the world, including Bill Gates, Majid Al Futtaim, Sjamsul Nursalim, Jack Ma and more can thank technological advancements for much of their wealth. Even if their business is not entirely tech-based, technology has improved everything from operations to mass production to distribution. No global business can survive without those elements. But are we losing sight of what our business does? Are we so focused on speeding up processes that we forget who we are trying to serve? Technology cannot replace people--period.

Some might argue that technology has hurt business and put people and corporations at risk. With the explosion of cyber attacks, businesses have lost valuable, private information that belonged to them and their customers. Once you’ve had a big breach of security like that it can be impossible to rebuild your reputation. After experiencing the negative side of technology in business, some people might be drawn to the old-school style of brick and mortar, face-to-face business dealings.

Balancing technology with the human side of business is crucial for success. You don’t need to buy every new tech gadget or innovative system that is released. There may be AI systems that can answer your customer’s questions but is that what your customer wants? It’s possible they want to speak to a live person who can listen to their issues and walk them through the solution. Business owners must be honest with themselves about what their clients want and how best to achieve the balance between tech and the human touch.

At this point, there is no going back. We will likely never see communication, education or business without technology. It is ingrained in who we are now and how we shop, collaborate and learn. The best thing we can do to combat the negatives that come along with technology is to raise awareness and be mindful. Teaching our children why they need to look someone in the eyes or why they need to read a book with paper pages can help motivate them to compromise.