Aren’t we trapped in a ‘digital addiction’?



Aren't we trapped in a 'digital addiction'?

The Corona virus epidemic is plaguing the world and will continue to plague for some time to come. It is adversely affecting trade, business, industry and education, and has changed people’s lifestyles.

Meanwhile, the Internet-based education, e-commerce debate is raging. While neighboring countries and other countries have made great strides in technology, we are reminded of the use of technology and its importance only in disasters.

If the e-commerce system was good, it would have helped to keep the economy afloat even during the downturn. At the same time, Corona’s terror was very comfortable for the people who were locked up in the house. 

Technology such as e-learning has certainly helped to revitalize the education sector that has been weakened by the Corona epidemic, but the lack of internet infrastructure and lack of digital literacy across the country is making it difficult for us to move forward.

According to a report released by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority last January, 84.09 percent of the population has access to the Internet. As of 2011, only 9 percent of Nepalis had access to the Internet. 

In this way, we have made great strides in the use of the Internet. Although the use of the Internet has increased rapidly, we are certainly not in a position to cheer. 

Meanwhile, the Government of Nepal has put forward the concept of Digital Nepal Framework. Under this, the goal is to move forward on the path of prosperity by making maximum use of information technology in the fields of health, education, agro-tourism and others. 

Now the natural question may arise, do we have enough internet infrastructure to take advantage of the highest use of information technology? Isn’t it too late to focus on the development of internet infrastructure?

Where is the problem

Although 84 percent of the population has access to the Internet, it is a promising figure, but only about 22 percent use optical fiber or Internet-based Internet, and 61.47 percent use mobile Internet.

Many people have to rely on mobile for internet as cable or optical fiber is not available in rural areas and service charges are very expensive.

The state needs to focus on enhancing cyber security capabilities to make the general public believe in the use of technology, and users need to be equally vigilant.

Now when it comes to using the internet, they are also using the internet to improve their lifestyle and earning money. They are falling prey to fake news from family quarrels with the understanding that the internet is just Facebook.

If a farmer can get and give information about his farming from the internet, if a student can use the internet to broaden the scope of his knowledge, the internet will be useful. Otherwise, there is a danger that the Internet will become established as a digital addict.

There is a big difference between just using the internet and using the internet safely. The rise in crime through digital payments and the Internet has further highlighted the importance of safe use of the Internet. 

The time has come for us to find out what percentage of the people who have access to the Internet are able to use the Internet safely.

While there is a challenge to extend the reach of the Internet to remote areas with geographical remoteness, on the other hand, it is necessary to pay equal attention to its safe use.

Thus subtracting the digital divide

Although optical fiber expansion projects are progressing well through the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund, the plan to extend optical fiber to all areas may be difficult due to the challenges of geographical remoteness.

Broadband expansion can be much easier if satellite connectivity and microwave infrastructure development are promoted simultaneously as an alternative to optical fiber to address the problem of geographical remoteness. 

If the Internet has become an integral part of human life, it is time to conduct classes on how to use the Internet safely.

If such education can be extended to the rural areas with the help of local community radio through the Rural Communication Development Fund, the Internet will prove to be a means of moving people’s lifestyles in a positive direction. If government bodies, hospitals, schools, etc. can be motivated to make the highest use of information communication and technology, it will help realize the dream of digital economy.

For this, it is necessary to reduce the cost by increasing the availability and accessibility of information technology. The digital divide can be narrowed down by giving tax breaks to internet providers willing to provide services in rural areas.

Now we also need to focus on local content development. In order to facilitate the use of information technology in the backward communities, it is equally necessary to have access to the Internet as well as to make Internet materials available in the local language.

Most Internet content and apps are limited to the English language, but a large number of people are forced to stay away from information technology.

Need to emphasize cyber security 

Occasional data leaks and website hacks have forced users to be wary of using information technology to infringe on personal privacy.

On the other hand, the question remains as to how secure the financial transactions on the Internet are. The state needs to focus on enhancing cyber security capabilities to make the general public believe in the use of technology, and users need to be equally vigilant.

In the case of Nepal, it is common knowledge that internet, telephone and banking service providers are aggressive in expanding their markets but are not willing to invest in data and network security in that proportion. 

In view of the growing shortage of manpower working in cyber security around the world, crime through the Internet can be reduced if international partnerships can be prioritized in the production of cyber-related manpower.

By consolidating all the incomes of information technology and creating a better digital ecosystem, it will be much easier to cope with epidemics like corona and disasters in the near future.

Credit: Engineer Karki

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