Academic journal article Global Media Journal

A Theological Approach to the Social Problems Associated with the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

A Theological Approach to the Social Problems Associated with the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)

Article excerpt


The development of science, technology and innovation (STI) is an ongoing priority and its goal is technological appropriation in all areas of life. To STI are conferred important capacities for showing, prevent and intervene social problems1. In recent years, only in Colombia, investment for STI development exceeded 18 billion of Colombian pesos and is projected to increase to 26 billion in 20 182, all under the promise of "providing solutions to the great problems faced by Colombian society"3. It is believed that with technological appropriation there will be a new human being, for whom 4"imperfection, intellectual, corporeal and ethical limits" will not be present. Information and communication technologies (ICT) do not escape this mission. Affordability, ubiquity, versatility and diversity are not only admired but desired qualities of ICT and, as with the STI, and are considered as essential inputs for social transformation5.

However, there is another side of the coin. The dependencies6 to the internet (cyber dependence) and cell phones (nomophobia and phubbing), harassment or bullying through social networks and internet (cyberharassment, cyberbullying), production, dissemination and exchange of sexual content (sexting, online pornography), online sexual extortion (sextortion), deception and harassment through false profiles in social networks (grooming), extortion, theft and identity theft (cyberextortion, phishing, smishing), among others, are some of the new social problems for the appropriation of ICT without limits or reflection. Several of them are unknown by most people although there are a growing number of cases7. The study of them is scarce with a remarkable empirical approach and few conclusive works8 [1].

Despite that there is no abundant academic development in this setting, the severity of the cases has motivated the execution of programs aimed at prevention and intervention, in which, description, and empowerment and social denunciation are the main actions9. The legislation is scarce for these issues [2]. In Colombia, for example, only some behaviours are criminalised by justice10.

The question resulting from this scenario is: If the ICTs are thought and developed to generate well-being and progress, why they cause destruction for the human being today? Tillich would answer that it is due to the ambiguity of the technique. It "simultaneously presents its positive and negative aspects, in a confused way and with the trouble to establish with certainty which of these two forces is dominating"11. But even if there is such ambiguity, the balance is more inclined to promote the virtues and possibilities of the technique than its risks. This has placed the technique and its discourse - technology in the words of Elull12- in a preponderant place, full of hopeful affirmations and promises, which generate immeasurable affections and dedications. Reflecting theologically on technological appropriation, considering its limitations and risks, is necessary for a more objective understanding of this appropriation and generate a humanising equilibrium in which the human being is appreciated and understood with or without technology.

Rather than offering a definitive answer to the ambiguity of ICT, this theological approach seeks to contribute to the progress made by specialists in psychology, anthropology and sociology who have explored ICT phenomena, characteristics, inputs and possible solutions, with the intention of preventing and intervening the harmful effects of an indiscriminate, unlimited and irresponsible technological appropriation13. Although they have not found consensus on clinical definitions and are not endorsed by regulatory agencies for their nominations or solutions14, it is possible to see in them a common mission: to stop the consequences of inadequate appropriation of technology. This is in a direct relationship with the understanding of a practical theology [3], which must respond to the contemporary demands and rise from its knowledge pertinent and relevant solutions for the world of today15. …

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