One of the most exciting and powerful inventions of the 20th century, the internet has immensely shifted the spheres of information and communication across the globe. The internet is the epitome of technological advancements. Its impacts and benefits are immense and unparalleled. Its effect is not limited to particular people, users or fields of profession. Rather it has had a far-reaching, worldwide effect providing a single source for all information and a platform for cross-geographical communication.
The internet has been instrumental in its contribution to learning and in a major way. By being a conduit towards access to a huge array of information, the internet has played a huge role towards the development of knowledge and ease with which scholars and any other information seekers can access particular information of interest. The advent of the internet has vastly changed the way in which people search and access information. The role the internet has played in the advancement of the technology and inter-connectedness across the world cannot be downplayed. However, the internet despite all its good has got a dark side to it. The internet has been associated with a lot of negativity and harm towards its users. The negative impacts associated with its heavy use range from intellectual, physical, social, economic and even political. The internet as an advancement of technology has brought along more harm than good in its influence; of society from various perspectives.
Impact on education/intellectual capacity
The internet is overloaded with information for all people across all walks of life. Despite the level of available information found on the internet, the internet has impacted our intellectual capabilities to process information in a thorough natureCITATION STU08 \l 1033 (Carr). According to Carr, the internet despite its heavy content of information has affected our critical thinking ability the ability to focus on large articles in order to meaningfully and wholesomely draw knowledge from the particular sources has dwindled immensely. Our attention spans have been shortened and concentration level affected. The shift towards the internet as the main source of information has contributed to the loss of the art of critical and deep reading that used to be associated with other sources of information such as books.
It has affected our ability to make our own associations and the capacity to develop ideas ourselves. The ability to stimulate one's intellectual capacities to think and creatively find meaning to information has been heavily affected. Attentive and critical reading is associated with the ability to understand and form meaningful opinions and conclusions from the information. The internet has contributed heavily to its user's loss of link with information and as a result, led to less initiative and loss of creativity CITATION STU08 \l 1033 (Carr). Students no longer have to engage their mind critically as in the past in search of information. Research is done hurriedly and with less brain engagement. The result is the inability to make rich and informed connections with the information and the disengagement with the particular sources. Resultantly, human beings have become superficial thinkers who have lost focus and the ability to retain concentration. The disorganization of thought and incoherence of thought associated with the modern scattered research adopted by many has resulted in dwindling innovations and poorly informed professionals.
Nicholas Carr postulates that the impact that the internet has had on us, on our ability as humans to be cognitive, to think more deeply, to be more concentrative, to direct our mind to focus and pay attention to detail. The internet has made our brains frail. The internet has contributed to watering down, dilution of quality of knowledge in a major way. From the article the author notes one of his friends and a writer quoted saying that he no longer reads through research materials. Rather, the norm nowadays is to scan through short passages of text across many sources from the internet The ability to research, delve deeply into the sources has dwindled and he just cannot achieve that level of concentration and thoroughness anymore. This is just one case that depicts to the level of dilution the internet has had on most people's ability to be original and creative. With everything available on one platform, via single clicks on links, many people do not wish to go through the trouble of understanding the content, the background and build up to the knowledge they seek. They quickly browse through the articles and sources and on instances prefer to just copy the writers work CITATION STU08 \l 1033 (Carr).
The internet has become the reference point for any action by every human being. Professionals, even the most technical such as doctors and engineers are relying on information from the internet in their practice which begs the question, is the internet as trustworthy and reliable as it has been pointed to be? Is it doing us more harm than good? CITATION Kot15 \l 1033 (Kothari and Moolani) Is there need to re-evaluate the position the internet has taken in our lives and maybe re-adjust accordingly?
The internet's impact has been so huge that it has led to the subsuming of our other intellectual technologies (Carr). It has assumed the roles played traditionally by other forms of technology and incorporated it in its own such that it has become the reference point for everything in the world from maps, to time watch to TV and radio; everything has been consumed into the huge porch that is the internet. This has undeniably brought along a high level of convenience with the ability to access all these multiple utilities and a wide array of knowledge and information by simply the click of a button, the convenience has been upgraded. Its portability, inexpensive and immediacy in access and global nature make it the go-to source of information and knowledge for everyone.
The internet impact on the social behaviour of people is huge and felt. In the last decade, the internet has facilitated the creation and emergence of many social platforms across which people of similar interests can share ideas and engage with each other. The internet has provided platforms for social engagements that are cross-geographical and in that sense has helped provide a linkage for people of similar interests hence helping form virtual communities. However, its social impact has been more adverse than it is good on individuals and society in general.
The internet has been associated with addiction and introversion of individuals, especially the younger user demography. Addiction has affected a high number of its users. The internet, being a way of life for many people especially the young has led to their inability to dissociate themselves from its use and in effect resulted to addiction. This effectively alienated them from social life and realities and instead replaces real life with virtual life. Heavy internet use has been associated with the rising cases of juvenile obesity in America as most young people prefer introversion and indoors life with little or no time for exercise or other physical-intensive engagements.
The internet is based largely and primarily on western culture and ideas. This in effect has spread across the globe with the inherent effect being its perpetration of particular cultures as superior. Whether expressly or impressed, information on the internet can lead to the idea that certain cultures, beliefs, religions and even political views are incorrect, unwelcome or simply wrong. This has led to the erosion of diverse cultures as the internet tends to propagate a particular system of beliefs and way of things. With its ability to influence decisions, views and ideas, the internet has been influential in propagating incorrect, misleading information capable of forming people's views resulting in cultural dissolution and loss of diversity of opinion and belief. It has in the process rendered many traditional forms of knowledge and what used to be common ways of doing things irrelevant. It has re-organized tradition, misplaced beliefs and absolved ideas and redirected action.
Unrestricted access of the internet by people of all ages with basically no restriction or control over the level of appropriateness suited and allowable for each of the accessors renders the internet's content unsafe for some particular audiences. Underage users, for example, are able to access pornographic materials, violent and other explicitly graphic materials for kids CITATION Lov15 \l 1033 (Love, Laier and Brand). These materials tend to reflect in their real life with most exhibiting similar behaviour. This is very harmful to the society's moral standard as eventually a culture or society that does not appreciate moral guidelines or abide by any value standards whatsoever is bound to emerge following the mainstreaming of the internet. Values will be undermined and morals disintegrated. Codes of conduct as is expected by the society will be dismantled and any sense of right or wrong eroded. This is a possible scenario given the age we living in if control over access is not facilitated and stringent restrictive policies on access enforced.
Facilitation of illegal businesses
The lack of control over the internet access and users has led to the thriving of illegal dealings that would otherwise be apprehended by law authorities. However given the ability to operate anonymously, communicate cross-geographically and even financially transact through currencies, the internet provides the perfect avenue for the perpetration of illegal engagements such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, terrorism, weapon trade, murder and more. The freedom associated with the internet that revolves around the difficulty in detecting or apprehending such criminal dealings is what has led to the development of such dark avenues where crime can be facilitated with little or no law intervention at all.
Privacy, Financial and personal security
The internet with its unrestricted access by all individuals has resulted in the loss of privacy and threats on financial wellbeing of its users. Being multi-dimensional, the internet provides for social, economic and political platforms. Online shopping and trading have been at its peak in the past few years with many people turning to the internet to facilitate purchases across the globe. The internet also such as through its social sites and cloud storage services provides a harbour for private information and personal documents. However, this information is susceptible to numerous security threats such as invasion by hackers. Unauthorized access by criminals to such people lands internet users to exposure to threats, blackmail and invasion of privacy. Sensitive and valuable information in the hands of such individuals can cause major financial harm to internet users. Data leaks have been reported increasingly in the past few years leading to security concerns among internet users. The safety of any information input into the internet is not assured and in doubt.
Similarly, there have been concerns over the past few years regarding the use of the internet to track people's activities. This issue has been a point of debate especially in the USA with most Americans raising concerns over the governments through the National surveillance Association use of internet-sourced information to spy on them. This has been done with the collaboration of some social media sites with some of them such as Facebook providing user data and information willingly and without the user's consent to the government for surveillance purposes. Such loss...
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