Virtual Life in the Digital Era
By Sister Sarah Unwaunyin Tanjo, SSND and Sister Beatrice Chepng’eno, SSND (Province of Africa)
In this digital era, our lives are virtually connected through technology. Because of Covid-19, we address most of the needs of our world through this method of communication. The problems and opportunities with this approach was one of the topics at the 2021 UN Conference organized by the UN Commission on Social Development.
During the session on “The Role of Digital Technologies, on Social Development and Well-being of all”, the presenter demonstrated how technology can assist in the delivery of health care: easy online communication between doctors and patients, shopping for medical supplies, research and study. This is a reality for some people with technology and internet access. They have the greater advantage of independence, knowledge, and connection to the larger society. The major challenge, however, is that not everyone has equal access to it. The inequality of access leaves many behind, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, often in remote areas.
“We cannot allow a new digital citizenship to be the privilege of the few. Digital technologies must be used as both emergency tools and those that provide opportunities for all the world’s people in efforts to create more inclusive, equitable societies” said Maria Del Carmen Squeff, Chairperson of the UN Commission for Social Development.
In 2016, many African governments launched nation-wide rollouts of digital literacy programs. They distributed laptops and tablet devices to public schools with the aim of ensuring that all children received an education that equipped them with the 21st-century skills, including digital literacy. As a result, there was increased school enrolment, student alertness, and attendance.
Since it is most likely that technology will remain an integral part of our lives, there is no need to ask whether it is good or bad; we need to ask about how we will use it. We appeal for equitable distribution of this resource as we encourage one another to use it critically, sustainably and responsibly.