The Internet is one the most outstanding invention of humanity, which allowed to erase the borders between countries and continents, to bring people closer to each other, and to drop all the complexities and inconveniences, and to communicate freely. In addition, the Internet has opened up opportunities for profitable businesses, shopping, games and online communication, and much more.
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It is difficult to disagree with the fact that the Internet in our lives plays a unique and important role. The issue of the harms and benefits of the Internet has been of interest to humanity since its inception. Some claim that the Internet is only good; others are sure that the harm of the Internet is enormous. Nonetheless, the Internet certainly possesses numerous negative ramifications for its users, such as psychological, physical, and social.
Today, most people cannot imagine their existence without the Internet, because it is embedded and inserted in people’s everyday life. For a long time, the internet became not just an entertainment tool, but a necessity, a modern reality from which one cannot escape. According to recent statistical data, about 95% percent of teenagers and 85% of adults use the Internet in the United States.
Furthermore, it is widely known that roughly every seventh person uses Facebook. By 2020, according to forecasts, the number of Internet users will be about 5 billion, and this is higher than half of all people inhabiting the Earth (Blank and Lutz 623). It is interesting that If the Internet were a country, in terms of economy, it would take 5th place and thus be ahead of Germany. All these statements clearly illustrate that the Internet is a worldwide phenomenon with a massive influence on people.
Although the Internet is a highly useful instrument, a significant number of medical professionals warn the users to utilize the given tool with extreme caution. After all, excessive addiction and dependency can lead to serious health problems, because everything is good only in moderation. If people do not follow the precautions the network use, they will be at risk of acquiring serious health problems, which are not just physical but also psychological and mental.
Thus, Internet harms can become rampant with a high likelihood (Arcoverde et al. 119). It is important to be protected from the main health problems that a person abusing the Internet might get. The harm and benefits of the Internet are the concepts bordering on each other.
First of all, the primary harm of the Internet is reflected in the user’s eyes. This is not surprising since the many-hour contemplation of a two-dimensional rectangle (monitor) inevitably leads to eye strain and its subsequent deterioration. It is known that the most common disease that affects people whose work is related to computers and the Internet is myopia. By being online, people are constantly looking for something and their eyes are under tremendous tension (Callanan 733). Computer glasses and diffraction glasses, where the lenses are replaced with special plates with holes, can relieve the user’s eyes from stress and serve as a partial solution for the given problem.
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The second frequent problem in indicating the harm of the Internet becomes a sleep disorder and the appearance of headaches. The user of the Internet can stay up late, and some of them can communicate on social networks, for example, until the morning. Nevertheless, when a person understands that the time has come to give the body a rest, he/she cannot fall asleep. After all, the brain is overloaded with information, and it continues to actively analyze it by scrolling through various images (Ainin et al. 761). The result is a late arrival to work, the absence of mindedness, and the inability to articulate the thoughts clearly. To prevent this from happening, people need to finish work on the Internet at least one hour before the planned bedtime.
The third affected and damaged area on the body is posture. Surely, it can be repeatedly noticed that after long work at the computer, the cervical vertebrae start to shows symptoms of pain. The fact is that it’s quite difficult to control one’s position at the device; therefore, people often sit in the wrong pose, which leads to poor posture and subsequent frequent back pain (Seok et al. 925). This major drawback can also be categorized as harmful effects of the Internet.
The fourth problem of Internet use is slowing down the metabolism. The process of sitting at the computer involves little to no movement at all, which leads to the occurrence of blood stagnation, and worsened metabolism. This leads to inevitable problems with the musculoskeletal system, and cardiovascular system.
If the problems discussed earlier can still be somehow prevented and eliminated, then the fifth problem, psychological dependence on the Internet, becomes a serious and sometimes intractable issue. The dependency on the Internet or computer games can be compared to drug addiction.
The Internet gives a feeling of freedom because the person can be anyone, behave as he/she wants. It has been scientifically proven that about 10% of Internet users are addicted to it, and a third of them consider the Internet as important as a home, food, and water. In South Korea, China and Taiwan, Internet addiction is already regarded as a problem of national importance (Seok et al. 927). Therefore, being too long behind the monitor does not have the best effect on vision, and being for a long time in wrong postures has a detrimental impact on the musculoskeletal system.
In addition, the major disadvantages of the Internet include the presence of information that can harm the psyche. With the help of the network, fraudsters can steal and abuse personal information about an individual and utilize it for their purposes. Moreover, the World Wide Web often becomes a distributor of viruses that can harm a computer system.
Furthermore, the benefits and harms of the Internet are on different sides of scales. It has numerous advantages, and many of the harmful effects of the Internet can be avoided if it is used wisely (Callanan 748). There are some signs of psychological dependence on the Internet: euphoria at the computer, inability to stop, increase in the time spent at the computer, neglect of family members, lies about their activities, and depressive irritability outside the network.
In conclusion, the Internet is useful, and it possesses great advantages because a person can discover a lot of new opportunities for oneself, which can make his/her dreams come true, and become more knowledgeable and informed. However, the Internet is harmful if it is misused, and if an individual inappropriately allocates the time spent online. If the user does not know how to live and achieve goals in real life, then the Internet is unlikely to become a panacea for his/her troubles, rather the opposite. The harm and benefits of the Internet are all dependent on the user, and how much control a person possesses, which will result in damage or benefit.
Ainin, Sulaiman, et al. “Exploring the Role of Demographics and Psychological Variables in Internet Addiction”. Social Science Computer Review, vol. 35, no. 6, 2016, pp. 770-780.
Arcoverde, Renata L., et al. “Descriptions and interpretations on self-harming”. Culture & Psychology, vol. 22, no. 1, 2016, pp. 110-127.
Blank, Grant, and Christoph Lutz. “Benefits and harms from Internet use: A differentiated analysis of Great Britain”. New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 2, 2016, pp. 618-640.
Callanan, Cormac. “User tolerance of privacy abuse on mobile Internet and the country level of development”. Information Development, vol. 32, no. 3, 2015, pp. 728-750.
Seok, Ji-Woo, et al. “Neural substrates of risky decision making in individuals with Internet addiction”. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 49, no. 10, 2015, pp. 923-932.