The limits of the internet are practically unreachable. There are so many things we can do on the net. It gives us a way to connect in many ways that weren’t possible in the past. It keeps us up to date with everything throughout the world instead of having to read a newspaper to get a glimpse of what is happening. It lets us to buy products, sell products, share with friends, and many other things. Simply put, the internet allows us to do more than any other generation in history. However, many people do not understand the effects that the internet has on a person. In this paper, I will show how these consequences can be very negative for anybody.
There are basically an infinite number of websites that all display different things than the next. However, one kind of website has taken the United States by storm. Social networking sites, such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc., are probably the most used sites on the internet today. Most people get onto these sites on a daily basis, including me. But what are the backlashes of using these sites to keep in touch with our friends?
“Many teenagers use networking sites to pursue sexual relationships with people they already know, or sometimes with strangers whom they meet through the site”(ICOF). This can be a negative side effect of social networking sites. People can get onto one of these sites, create and account, and start talking to random strangers in the interest of having sexual relations. Granted, there are rules on these sites that state that this is not allowed but these rules are not strictly enforced as many of these cases show up months later on the news. ICOF also states that the internet is a place that is rampant for bullying. Anybody can get on the internet and harm a random person with words on one of these websites, usually without many repercussions. Online predators and bullying aren’t the only reasons these sites can be harmful.
“Young people run the risk of becoming addicted to Web sites such as Facebook”(ICOF). This is not an overstatement at all. I have many friends that stay on Facebook for 5 to 7 hours a day just reading other people’s posts and posting their remarks. This amount of time spent on the internet is counter-productive as the time spent on the internet could have been used to do something important such as studying, homework, chores, or working. “Teenagers’ common practice of combining those types of media at the same time…while trying to read a book for school–can have negative effects on their still-developing brains”(ICOF). Critics of social networking also say that teens spend more time on the internet than interacting in person with their friends or going outside and playing sports or exercising.
With this addiction to social networking sites and the little time spent studying and doing homework, one has to ask: What do these sites do to the thinking ability of the people that are constantly online? “No one disputes that the internet has made much more information readily available to just about anyone”(Greenblatt). Experts are worried that this “information overload” can have negative fallouts such as a shorter attention span and no time to really sit down and think because of the constant activity we have on the internet. The constant flow of new information may cause people to always be worried about what is happening right now instead of what will happen in the long run. The internet is full of things that are viewed as distractions to keep people away from deep thinking.
Some may argue that the internet is just this generation’s way of escaping reality. Many people think that the internet to us is just like board games were for the older generations. It is a way to release stress and escape the problems that they may have. However, studies suggest that Attention Deficit Disorder traits are higher than they were a few years ago when the internet was less popular. There are many studies that state that people who spend more time on the internet have shorter attention spans than people who don’t (Greenblatt). This proves the fact that the internet is having a negative effect on the mind and it is not like board games were in the past. It is a growing problem that may lead to long term harmfull effects if time spent on the internet is not limited.
Another popular thing on the internet is social media sites such as: Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Slashdot, etc. These sites allow normal people to become news reporters. They can post whatever news they want whenever they want. It seems as this would help people get the news that is important to them but that is not the case. “Digg… [is] largest one devoted to disseminating news stories; its primary function allows the collective community…to promote stories it likes and/or deems important and…bury stories it dislikes”(Hirschorn). This can have negative consequences because someone may read one of these stories and not actually get any facts, just biased opinions. The mass of people reading news on these websites can be mislead to believe something totally opposite of the truth.
The stories on these sites do not have to be true. The content posted there is accepted as long as it is suitable for people to read. Members of these sites can essentially bury the stories they don’t think people should read and make them read their own opinions. “The urge to shape the data to suit the message, to outfit one’s argument with a set of misappropriated…or simply fabricated facts that can be fed into a self-sustaining partisan feedback loop, will no doubt prove irresistible to many”(Hirschorn). People can post their own opinions as news and let people read what the reader believes is true. This can lead to people getting false information and believing ideas that are just made up. It could create a false sense of knowing what is going on and could lead to people just believing what they want.
Many people know that the news on TV isn’t very unbiased at all. However, most channels require facts to be stated backed with research. Theses websites do not. People may never know the real news if they continue to let these so called news stories to be posted on their websites.
There is no doubt that the internet is a very useful tool for today’s generation. However, too much time spent on the internet can have very negative effects. Using social networking sites and reading social media sites can lead to various problems such as: lowered attention span or being led to believe false information. Performing mindless tasks on the internet could lead to the next generation being full of kids with the early signs of ADD and no sign of stopping the addiction to the internet. Test scores in schools may lower and the overall intelligence of the United States could be lowered. That is an extreme view of the future but it could happen if we don’t limit the amount of time we spend on the internet.
Greenblatt, Alan. “Impact of the Internet on Thinking.” CQ Researcher Online Volume 20, Issue 33.
Hirschorn, Michael. “Truth Lies Here.” EBSCOhost. Atlantic Monthly. Nov 2010.
ICOF. “Social Networking Web Sites.” Issues & Controversies. Web. 15 Mar 2010.