“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had .” – Eric Schmidt, Google
“The Internet gave us access to everything; but it also gave everything access to us.” – James Veitch
The Internet has totally transformed and reshaped our everyday lives. It has become one of the most, if not the most popular means of communication. No matter what we do, we always use the Internet. Whether you want to order food delivery or message your friend, you use the Internet. Before the invention of the Internet, if you wanted to learn about the latest news, you had to make an effort. You had to buy a newspaper, for example. But these days you don’t have to do that. One click on the keyboard of your computer is already enough.
Apart from being an important means of communication, the Internet is also a multi-faceted tool, which allows us to do a variety of things. We can transmit information from one part of the world to the other, we can work remotely, communicate online, and share our videos and texts with the rest of the world. Our personal lives become known to the public and local issues become known to everybody as well.
But the growing role of the Internet in our lives has produced debates about its influence on our social relations. Some people argue that the impact of the Internet on our lives is purely positive, while others insist that the Internet has more disadvantages than advantages. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at this debate and highlight the positive and negative aspects of the Internet.
Positive Impact of the Internet
The Internet provides us with tremendous opportunities to communicate with one another. Indeed, with the rise of the Internet social media have become more popular. They have turned into an indispensable part of our lives. They make our life easier. With the help of social media, we can stay in touch with our parents and loved ones. They also allow us to share our experiences and other information with the rest of the world.
The Internet has provided us with numerous opportunities for learning and studying. The Internet promotes information exchange, the creation of knowledge and promotes communication between people. The Internet has enabled people to get access to education regardless of where they are. A myriad of research papers, books, articles and other educational sources are available on the Internet free of charge, which makes education even more accessible than before.
The Internet drives the world’s economy and makes it stronger. The Internet has transformed businesses in many important ways. And here we are talking not only about the changes in how products are bought and sold. The Internet is contributing to job creation. It is easier for people to find jobs and apply for them.
The Internet promotes democracy and freedom of speech. First of all, with increased access to information, people interested in taking part in public life are more informed. They are more aware of what is happening in the political lives of their countries. People join political social media groups, they voice their opinions, and comment on the news. Likewise, the Internet raises our awareness about issues happening around the globe, turning us into global citizens.
Negative Effects of the Internet
While the Internet can make out lives significantly better, in some ways it can also make our lives worse. This is especially the case if we are talking about young people. Let’s have a look at the most common negative effects of the Internet.
The Internet may cause us to develop unhealthy habits. Yes, indeed the Internet has provided unlimited sources of information. But while it can certainly be good, it can be just as bad. One of the most common unhealthy habits that the Internet may lead to is an uncontrollable urge to seek information.
This type of behaviour is extremely harmful to people’s daily lives as it affects their productivity and mental health. For example, people who are always worried about their health may spend hours on various medical websites reading about the symptoms of different diseases and making their anxiety only worse.
Many teenagers are also prone to developing a so-called gaming addiction. Indeed, with the proliferation of online games, many teenagers and adolescents spend more and more time playing these games. This certainly impacts their academic performance and productivity.
The Internet can lead to impaired sleep quality and shorter sleep overall. The fact that excessive use of the Internet negatively affects our sleep has been supported by extensive scientific research. Many teenagers and adolescents tend to use their phones in bed, checking their social media before going to sleep. Brain overstimulation that results from this as well as staring at the phone screen makes them more likely to suffer from poor sleep and even develop insomnia. Lack of sleep has tremendously negative effects on teenagers’ and adolescents’ health. Due to the lack of sleep, teenagers and adolescents are more likely to experience negative emotions, suffer from depression and anxiety and engage in violent and dangerous behaviour.
Excessive use of social media can negatively affect teenagers’ and adolescents’ self-esteem. Although social media indeed can make us feel less lonely and help us make new friends, it can also negatively affect our self-esteem and even make us feel very bad about ourselves. According to the existing research, the rising popularity of gadgets and smartphones have been associated with the rising rates of depression and higher suicide rates among students between the age of eight to twelve. Interestingly, those students who spent less time online were much less likely to develop mental health problems.
Excessive use of social media also results in lower self-esteem, especially in teenage girls. Many teenage girls are bombarded by an avalanche of perfectly taken pictures of their friends on a daily basis They also follow celebrities on social media who carefully work on their image and invest a lot in their appearance. Looking at their photos teenage girls feel miserable and are often questioning their self-worth. This, of course, can have a detrimental effect on the development of their personality.
Fake news and misinformation. While the rise of the Internet has given us greater access to information, it has also made us exposed to all sorts of fake news and misinformation. According to the existing studies, many people are not able to distinguish between real and fake news. That can lead to them being confused and contribute to their misunderstanding of important events and political issues.
Moreover, the proliferation of fake news and misinformation can negatively affect students’ performance. For example, in order to complete a research paper, you need to rely on quality information. If you are unable to tell apart the fake information and the real information, you may use lo quality information in your research paper and get a low mark.
Fake news can also harm your health. Indeed, various fake and untruthful news on medical treatments for diseases can make people make wrong decisions about their health that can, in turn, lead to even fatal outcomes. According to researchers, the Internet is rife with unreliable and low-quality information on health.
It goes without saying that the Internet has an all-encompassing and undeniably important role in our lives. It is almost impossible to imagine our daily activities without the Internet. And it is especially the case when it comes to adolescents and teenagers, who use the Internet to study, communicate with their peers, watch films and many other things. As a parent, you must make sure that you keep a close eye on how your child uses the Internet to shield the from the negative influences that the Internet may have on their lives and personalities.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.