What are ICTs?

Although it is true that the concept of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) can be excessively broad, it could be defined as the set of infrastructures and tools that allow both the connection between people and the collection of information.

ICTs are used to create connections that would not otherwise be possible and that provide advantages in different areas, both from a professional and personal perspective.

Advantages of ICT

Information and Communication Technologies have a number of benefits:

  • Efficient communication. By having higher speed in the transmission of information, communication can be more efficient. Through connectivity, it can also help bridge the digital divide.
  • Access to information. From employment, academic and even leisure or informational perspectives, the enormous access to information offered by ICTs can make it easier and simpler to have first-hand information.
  • Increased productivity. By facilitating simpler processes, they can be automated, reducing waiting times and increasing efficiency, thus increasing productivity.
  • Labour flexibility. Provided that the nature of the work to be carried out allows it, the possibility of carrying out the professional task remotely serves to increase work flexibility.

3 examples of ICTs that have changed our lives

We could have chosen numerous examples of ICTs, but because of their influence on our daily activities, let’s learn more about the historical evolution and levels of use of mobile telephony, the Internet and social networks.

Mobile telephony

Although when Motorola engineer Martin Cooper was able to make the first mobile phone call more than half a century ago, in 1973, he may have been aware that he was making history, but he could not have imagined the level of success that this technology would achieve.

The truth is that the evolution of mobile telephony is more than evident, just from the perspective of size and functionality: the first model of the DynaTAC 8000X marketed by Motorola (the one used by Cooper years earlier), in March 1983, had considerable dimensions: 33cm x 4.5cm x 8.9cm and weighed more than a kilo. It also had a rather limited battery life: it offered only half an hour of talk time, for which it needed ten hours of charging.

The starting price of this first device, almost 4,000 dollars, did not help its use to become popular at the time, although a year after its launch there were already almost 300,000 people who had this mobile phone.

Spain was no exception and also saw the arrival of this technology in the mid-1970s.

Smartphones

But if there was one thing that made a great leap forward in mobile telephony capabilities, it was the arrival of smartphones, the first of which was IBM’s Simon in 1994.

Subsequent improvements and possibilities are already part of our daily lives. There is little more to add to the global significance of smartphones, with more than half of the population owning a smartphone – 4.3 billion people to be precise.

In fact, according to figures from GMSA’s ‘The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2023’ report, the number of mobile connections now exceeds 10 billion, which means that every person on the planet has on average more than one mobile device.

Internet

A major player in the development of ICTs, the Internet was a true revolution in the last decades of the 20th century.

In the context of the Cold War, and in the military sphere, the United States created Arpanet in 1969 by connecting a computer at the University of California with another at the Stanford Research Institute. Subsequently, four more universities joined, and this interconnection is what was called, as mentioned above, the Arpanet.

When in 1983 the Department of Defence incorporated the TCP/IP protocol into its network, it was renamed Arpanet Internet, and later became known by the nomenclature by which we know it: simply the Internet.

First website in history

At the beginning of the 1990s, a new milestone was reached that would bring the Internet closer to its acting form: the first website in history was born.

A “relic” that can still be visited (https://info.cern.ch/) by staying active, it was created by Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist, which gives him the title of creator of the World Wide Web.

The level of implementation of Internet use in everyday life can be seen in some relevant data from the Digital 2024 report, from which we know that the number of users worldwide in 2024 has climbed to 5.35 billion, which represents 66.2% of the population of the entire planet. Compared to the data for 2023, there is an increase of 97 million people, an increase of 1.8%.

However, we should not lose sight of the fact that, breaking down this data by region, there are notable differences, with the highest Internet penetration rate in Northern Europe (97.6%) and the lowest in East Africa (26.7%).

Social networks: origin and evolution

Social networks have radically changed the way we interact, both from a personal point of view linked to leisure and from a professional perspective, in recent years.

Although it may seem more recent, its origins date back to the end of the 20th century, specifically to 1997 when SixDegrees emerged, a network that made it possible to locate other members by creating lists of friends under the premise that it was possible to connect with anyone in the world in just six steps.

With the turn of the century, more networks started to be created (such as Friendster in 2002 or MySpace and LinkedIn in 2003). Facebook (2004) and YouTube (2005), later joined by Twitter (2006), also date from the same period.

Instagram emerged in 2010, followed six years later by TikTok, the latest big boom in this field.

Use of social media in 2024

To give us an idea of the magnitude of social networks, the same Digital 2024 report highlights that this year there are 5,000 million active SSN user identities, which represents an increase of 5.6% over the previous year, specifically 266 million new users.

By networks, Facebook continues to lead Facebook with more than 3 billion users, followed by Youtube and Whatsapp with 2.5 and 2 billion users respectively.

The top 5 is completed by Instagram, also with 2 billion, and TikTok, which has achieved a huge increase of almost 50% of new users since the previous year.

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