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A Letter to a College Student in the Future

In the second decade of the 21st century, people live in a social environment shaped by a multitude of external and internal factors. The five major institutions that most significantly influence an individual’s life are family, government, economy, education, and religion. The rapid development of digital technologies has transformed all aspects of life, creating a world where different cultures, people, and institutions are closely connected. To understand modern society, the role of family and education needs to be examined, and the influence of digital technologies on individuals needs to be explored.

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The family is believed to be the most important social institution because it provides a set of rules that guide an individual throughout all their life and contains practically all social relations in miniature. While there is a tendency that an individual is the primary unit of modern society, the family remains the simplest social structure on which all other social relations are based (Ellwood 123). It is different from other social institutions because its members have their places fixed by their organic natures (Ellwood 125). The relations between a husband and a wife or a parent and a child rest upon biological differences, which makes the family as much a biological structure as it is a social structure.

The family performs a number of functions in modern society. Inside the family, the relations of superiority, subordination, and equality are shaped, which form the structure of all other social institutions (Ellwood 123). It is the chief medium for transmitting knowledge, culture, values, and experience from one generation to another (Ellwood 124). The family also acts as a school for socializing the individual. Children learn moral and ethical values and the patterns of behavior from their parents and use them as guidance when building their relationships with other people. The family develops together with society, reflecting external changes and incorporating them into its structure.

In an individual’s life, the family acts as the most powerful external social force, especially in childhood. Parents protect and support their children, provide them with necessities, help them socialize, act as role models, instill cultural values in them, and provide emotional comfort and support. Today, in the digital age, when children have access to smartphones and limitless information, parents play an especially important role in protecting their physical and mental health (Burns and Gottschalk 21). If a family fails to perform its basic functions, a child may develop a range of psychological problems and have trouble adapting in a larger social environment. Overall, the family serves as a basis of an individual’s social life on which all other institutions rest.

Another powerful social force that has a significant influence on a person’s development is education. It is a social institution through which children acquire basic skills, knowledge, and cultural norms. Education begins from the moment a child is born and continues throughout all their lives. At first, it is an informal process, but as a child grows, the family and community become more involved in structuring their learning.

Education has a number of specific functions in modern society. The first is transmitting knowledge to children, starting with basic mathematical and reading skills to the deep understanding of historical and scientific processes. The second is socialization, with schools being the first formal agencies which expose the child to the rules of the larger society and teach them to communicate and build relationships (Penner et al. 68). The third function is cultural transmission, which means that through education, cultural values are transferred across generations. The fourth function is social control, with schools being responsible for teaching such values as discipline, punctuality, obedience, and determination and encouraging children to be good students, hard-working future workers, and law-abiding citizens (Penner et al. 70). Education helps to both preserve and transmit knowledge and integrate children into society.

Education is considered to be one of the most influential social institutions. Schools can act as agents of change or conformity, “teaching individuals to think outside of the norms into which they were born, while at the same time acclimatizing them to their tacit place in society” (Little 267). While traditionally, the role of education was to transmit a fixed way of life, in modern society, it is primarily seen as an instrument of social change (Little 266). Through raising awareness, it transforms a person’s outlook and attitudes and creates a desire for change in society.

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One of the most important issues that society is facing today is the rapid development of digital technologies. Over the recent decades, they have been playing an increasingly important role, transforming all aspects of an individual’s life. They changed the production and access to knowledge, the organization of labor, family relations, and the relationships between people and the government. Today, it is one of the major factors of influence that creates a number of benefits for society as well as challenges that the communities and individuals need to address.

Digital technologies affect the life of a person in multiple ways. In education, virtual learning environments and distance learning have opened up programs to students who would otherwise be excluded (“Impact of Digital Technologies”). In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, millions of students switched to online education, which enabled them to study at home at their own pace. The same changes occurred in the work environment, as many companies were forced to switch to remote work. In family life, digital technologies have affected the ways family members interact with each other and raise children (Burns and Gottschalk 21). In the public sector, digital transformation has allowed governments at all levels to deliver services and programs more efficiently and cost-effectively. Overall, technologies have made the world more reachable and created close connections between different countries, people, businesses, and social institutions.

In my life, I feel how technologies shape the ways I interact with people, study, work, seek information, and express myself. I study online and can organize my time most conveniently. I search for information, read the news, listen to music, and watch movies over the internet. I always have my phone with me to communicate with my friends and family. I am on many social networks and have multiple ways to express myself and share my opinion with other people. All aspects of my social life are in some way connected with technologies, and this is one of the main things that characterizes my idea of the modern world.

I think that in future, technologies will be playing an increasingly important role. Currently, one of the main problems is the availability of digital devices and the internet in the lesser-developed regions of the world and to the disadvantaged groups of the population (“The Impact of Digital Technologies”). According to UNESCO (“The Impact of Digital Technologies”), “many of people left behind are women, the elderly, persons with disabilities or from ethnic or linguistic minorities, indigenous groups and residents of poor or remote areas” (para. 4). As societies progress, an increasing number of people will have access to the benefits of the new era, which will advance the development of the world in general.

In conclusion, it can be said that modern society is founded on a number of social institutions, with family and education being the most important of them. The family serves as a basis of an individual’s social life, instilling cultural values and norms of behavior, protecting and supporting children, transmitting experience across generations, and shaping a person’s relations with other people. Education is responsible for an individual’s development outside of the family, helping to preserve and transmit knowledge and culture. In the family, children learn the basics, and at school, they socialize and gain a deeper knowledge of the world. The modern world is profoundly influenced by the development of digital technologies, which have transformed all aspects of life. They are becoming increasingly incorporated into family, education, religion, government, and economy and have changed the way people communicate, work, and learn. In the future, the world is predicted to become even more connected as more and more people gain access to modern technologies. Future generations need to be prepared for more opportunities as well as more complicated challenges that technological advancements bring with them.

Works Cited

Burns, Tracey, and Francesca Gottschalk, editors. Educating 21st Century Children: Emotional Well-Being in the Digital Age. OECD, 2019.

Ellwood, Charles. Sociology and Modern Social Problems. Good Press, 2019.

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“The Impact of Digital Technologies.” United Nations.

Little, William, editor. Introduction to Sociology — 2nd Canadian Edition. BCcampus, 2016.

Penner, Andrew, et al., editors. Education and Society: An Introduction to Key Issues in the Sociology of Education. University of California Press, 2019.

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