The Positive and Negative Effects of the Internet.

The world we live in is experiencing rapid technological change. The technology that is leading the way is the internet.

What is the internet?

A worldwide network of interconnected computer networks that utilize standard communication protocols. Sometimes nicknamed “the Net”.

How has the internet changed the world?

No technological innovation since the development of the printing press has changed how information is made available.

The internet has been the biggest driver of social evolution since the 1990s. 

It has changed:

Business

Education

Government

Healthcare

How we interact with loved ones

How we date and make new friends

I mentioned in a past blog about how the internet is changing how we get jobs and obtain education and the growing importance of social networks such as Linkedin.

What are the positive impacts of the internet?

The internet has led to many positive changes including:

Staying in touch: The internet makes it easier for you to stay in touch with other people like never before. We keep in touch through email and instant messaging but also through social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It’s now possible to keep in touch with a loved one that’s 3000 miles away everyday.

Improvement in business interactions and transactions: Sellers and buyers can now make transactions online through payment services such as paypal or through credit cards. The growth of online businesses has led to changes in money. Since 2009 there has been a rapid growth in cryptocurrencies that buyers and sellers trade with each other in exchange for goods and services. An example of a cryptocurrency is Bitcoin.

Easier to do Research: If it weren’t for the internet, it would not be as easy and fast to do research for my blog. Search engines such as Google and Bing have made doing research a lot easier.

Easier to work at home: The internet has made it possible for someone to work from home. Companies such as Google and Amazon have allowed their employees to work from home, but it’s possible to earn an income from home as a writer and also by having an online home based business.

What are the negative impacts of the internet?

Online bullying: Online bullying occurs particularly on social media platforms such as facebook and twitter. 

Cyber crime: A grim reality of being online is the risk of cyber crime. Examples include identity theft, transaction fraud, hacking, piracy and phishing. 

Internet addiction: Addiction comes in many forms, but internet addiction doesn’t get as much attention as it should. It comes in many forms including addiction to cybersex, online gaming, cyber relationships and compulsive online shopping.

Never being able to disconnect from work: There is a huge problem with a growing number of people not being able to disconnect from work. Thanks to technologies that allow us to connect to the internet from anywhere there is a wifi connection. The defined barrier between work life and personal life has been blurred. A negative consequence of being unable to disconnect from work is not being able to decompress and destress from the work day. The inability to escape from work related stress can lead to a lack of sleep. The lack of sleep overtime leads to increased stress and higher rates of obesity and heart disease. Mental health problems caused by not be able to de stress lead to depression, anxiety and lower morale that contribute to burnout.

Affects patience and focus: The internet has led to a loss of patience and focus. The need for instant gratification has caused many people to have a hard time coping with uncertainty, inconvenience and boredom.

Physical and Mental health effects: The amount of stress that people feel from prolonged internet usage has led to problems with physical and mental health. Physical ailments include obesity, heart disease and carpal tunnel syndrome . Mental health problems from excessive internet usage include depression, anxiety, hostility, social isolation and in some cases psychosis.

What can we do?

Technology like the internet is neither good nor bad. It brings us a lot of benefits, but also a lot of problems, also.

There are things we can do to improve our wellbeing:

Making time for actual face-to-face contact: The tide is starting to turn. People are actually craving real human contact. There’s a huge difference when you communicate with someone through social media vs. communicating with someone face-to-face. This can be achieved by simply spending time with family and friends you already have or going outside your comfort zone by making new non-internet friends through group activities.

Exercise: A great way to not only manage your health but to improve it also. Even something simple like walking for twenty minutes a day over time can go a long way. After your work you should consider taking up yoga and meditation.

Limit electronic usage before bedtime: In a previous blog I was discussing the causes of sleep problems and these included the use of electronic devices before bedtime. Laptops and smartphones emit a white light that interfere with your body’s ability to produce melatonin. These devices basically act as artificial suns that trick your body into thinking that the sun is still out. Lack of sleep can cause online induced anxiety to become worse.

Limit caffeine intake: It’s important to limit caffeine intake. If you’re already in an anxious state due to being online too much excessive caffeine intake can make it worse.

Spending time outdoors: Exercising in general is great for your overall well being. There are plenty of benefits of exercising indoors, but it’s even better when you’re outdoors. Along with improved energy levels and decreased stress being outside in the sun increases your Vitamin D intake that leads to strong bones and a strong immune system. Fun outdoor activity include hiking, kayaking, running, walking, cycling, rock climbing and camping. It’s important to wear sunscreen when going out in the sun and be mindful of current weather conditions, for example if its too cold you’ re at risk of frostbite and hypothermia and when its too hot you’re at risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

How has the internet change your life?

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