Technology in all of its forms is an ever present part of modern life, both in America and around the world. We use smartphones to keep in touch with family and friends and other “smart” technologies to read and study other cultures. In a time when technology is such a big part of life, it’s only natural that this cultural shift has had an effect on immigration and world relations, too. Today, we’re looking at how that’s happened over the last century.
Greater awareness of global issues
Even if the reasons leading to immigration today are similar to those of years past (pursuit of a better life, financial or cultural turmoil, etc.), public views toward immigration have definitely changed with time. This is, in large part, a result of the wealth of information available regarding immigrants and the issues they face. For example, “natural born” US citizens in the early part of the 20th century were not always as privy to the plights of other countries. As a result, they may have been less informed or less concerned with the lives of immigrants to the US. However, with such a large amount of information, news, videos, images and other material available at the touch of a finger, the US and global community is better equipped to understand and in some cases relate to each other’s struggles. The advent of technology has made immigrant struggles and realities more “real” for those who aren’t living through them.
A shift in the immigration process itself
Technology has also changed the very process of immigration. In some ways it has been made more complicated: immigrants from other countries must go through lengthy application processes and spend time “in the system” before advancing to the next stage of the process. But in other ways, having access to technology has streamlined the immigration process. Today, those in the application process can check their status online and find resources (legal, emotional and informative) that they otherwise might not have access to.
A greater level of connectivity has made the immigration process and what happens after more engaging. Families may be located in different countries while waiting to be processed—but they can often still keep in touch by talking online or over the phone. In this way, technology has made the world a bit smaller and made it easier for families to stay in touch and in the know about each other’s situation.
Today, this greater global connectivity has also made it easier for immigrants (young people especially) to both adapt to a new home and maintain their roots at the same time. This is a great opportunity, especially since so many immigrant parents worry about their children maintaining their cultural identity after making the move. Today, these children and adolescents can stay in touch with their first home by talking to family and constantly staying up to date with the news and happenings of their native country, which may have been harder to do in previous years.
Immigration and the factors surrounding it have certainly changed over the years—and by utilizing technology in positive ways, families can make sure these changes are for the better.