ternetThe Positive and Negative Social Aspects of the Internet
The internet is a magnificent tool that we use in many aspects of our society. It has been very helpful in regards to business, education, socialization, recreation and so much more. The internet has also been very harmful in regards to all those things as well, even communication. We are discussing the social aspects of the internet and their positive and negative effects.
There has been a large debate on whether internet use is positively influencing social relationships and community life or whether it is negatively influencing them. With many new things introduced there are always the good and the bad sides of them. Many good things have come from the internet, and socially it is very helpful to us. If you move away from a very close friend now you can stay in touch with e-mail and instant messaging. Communication which once took time to write on a piece of paper is now reduced to a couple key strokes and the click of a mouse. You can meet all kinds of different new people in chat rooms with common interests as you. In fact some people have formed many lasting relationships with others they meet online. If communication dominates the majority of internet use there is a good reason to expect that it will have a positive social effect on society. Communication, meaning contact with neighbors, family, friends, and participation in social groups affects a person’s level of social support, and in turn fosters one’s purpose in life and their psychological well-being.
In Donald Tapscott’s book Growing Up Digital(1998), he is a well known author of many internet books and articles, he talks about the boost of self-esteem that can be obtained from the internet in making friendships not based on physical qualities. There is a story of a seven year old girl who had facial malformations and was unaccepted in society. She found a chat room to interact with other children, and was able to make friends without being persecuted for her facial malformations. She felt like she was accepted and she belonged. This is another positive advantage of the internet because we are a society that is ruled by physical appearance, and the people who are not blessed with ” good looks” have a difficult time being accepted. Some are criticized and want to escape the in person contact that would leave them open to feelings of worthlessness. Through the internet people can interact without having to worry about what others will think of their looks, weight and other physical attributes. Through communication online people embark on a journey of getting to know someone for who they are and not what they look like.
Using the internet is also becoming a necessity in this society because it is everywhere. What about other children keeping up with their peers? How are they supposed to do that if they don’t know how to use the internet? What about school papers? There is information online that you sometimes cannot find in the library. How can they keep up with their peers and their schoolwork without it? Children without access to the internet will be at a great disadvantage developmentally.
The negative effects include alienation from institutions such as the family, education and places of work. The lack of face to face interaction with family members, co-workers and fellow students leads to diminished socialization skills. Some people are locking themselves into the anonymous world of their computers and not coming out. They are becoming socially isolated and cut off from the world except through their computers. Indeed studies have shown that people are becoming significantly depressed, stressed out, and lonely with each hour they spend on the internet chatting with other anonymous introverts. The more time spent online the less able a person is to effectively cope with face to face social interaction. Even though some people form long lasting relationships online, internet chatting lacks the in-person connection. This is a large requirement in developing good social skills. Working around computers more and more, and identifying your life with what is happening on the other side of the screen, may make a person lose touch with reality. Statistics show that children are using the internet for several hours a day! What else are they doing? How much quality time is being spent with the family? Is the internet now a sustitute for spending time with your family? This decline in family interaction shows that the internet is tearing some families apart. While on one end helping in academic areas on the other end the internet is denying some families the bond they used to have.
The internet also causes lots of stress because a person may be having trouble navigating on a site and are not educated enough in the use of the internet. This can cause someone to get frustrated because they cannot figure it out. There is also the threat of internet pedophiles and other criminals preying on our innocent children. They could easily meet someone in a chat room and have no clue as to what their intentions are.
There is also a debate among psychologists as to the existence of a psychological disorder of online use, termed “Internet Addiction Disorder”. It suggests that some people have addictive behavior patterns when it comes to using the internet. Some symptoms of “Internet Addiction Disorder” may include:
Using the computer for pleasure, gratification, or relief from stress
Feeling irritable and out of control or depressed when not using it
Spending increasing amounts of time and money on software, hardware, magazines, and computer related activites
Neglecting work, school, or family obligations
Some people have described experiencing a cocaine-like rush while online. Some psychologists say that there needs to be more research done to diagnose online addiction. Most often children who are lonely or bored from families where nobody is around they will use the computer as a tool to escape real life. They are isolated and have no other outlet and become depressed. There is no official psychological diagnosis of a computer addication as yet, but more research is being done on the topic.
As with all advances in our life time there are good things and there are bad things that come along with it. The internet is both good and bad, positive and negative. The key here is to watch how we spend our time on it, what we do on the internet, how we act when we are on it, and how we act when we are not on it. We must closely monitor our children and make sure what they are ingesting is beneficial to them and is not harmful to them. We must also limit ours and our childrens time on the internet and the computer. Closely look at and evaluate how our social lives are progressing and how our family lives relationships are. Maintain good and stable relationships with our friends and family members and always try to remember that they are what we care about. A computer is a machine and should not be taken as anything stronger than that. All the information that is at our fingertips should be used in a way that is useful to society. The internet should be a tool of knowledge and not a tool of escape and avoidance.