Papers like HomeNet publications have been following the effects, positive or negative of Internet on its users. The findings are interesting as it reports both positive and negative results. Initially the effect was negative on those who relied heavily on internet for communication. However that scenario has changed with time. Current studies no longer show the overall negative effects of the past. Using internet to communicate with families and friends as well as being involved in community activities has been on the rise.
Negative effects are generally experienced by people with less support economically and introverts and positive effects experienced by people with good social resources and extraverts. Some people who have integrated internet into their ordinary lives have generally benefited, but they now experience new social problems. These problems are highlighted in this discussion in depth and a summary made in a table. Those internet users who find communication important, have good reason
to expect that Internet has positive social impact on their lives. For such people communication, including contact with neighbors, friends, and family, and participation in social groups, improves their level of social support. To them interacting with internet gives them fulfilling personal relationships, a sense of meaning in life, and commitment to social norms with their communities. Their psychological and physical well-being (Diener et al. 1999; Cohen and Wills 1985; Mirowsky and Ross 1989;).
They think through the use of internet for communication, they could have important positive social effects on individuals (McKenna and Bargh 2000), groups, organizations (Sproull and Kiesler 1991), and communities (Hampton and Wellman 2000), including society at large (Dertouzos 1997; Hilts). Just like the telephone did, they think broad social access could increase people’s social involvement, and facilitate formation of new relationships (Fischer 1992; Wellman 1996).
People who are generally isolated could find new social identity and commitment (Katz and Aspden 1997). Isolated members of communities could participate in group organizations at a distance (Sproull and Kiesler 1991). Internet is also handy for political mobilization (Bonchek 1997). Whether Internet has positive or negative social impact depend upon the quality of the people online, their activities and what they give up to spend time online. Stronger social ties generally lead to better social outcomes than do weaker ties (Wellman and Wortley 1990).
As we go through the discussion we find that the ease in communication that internet offers has encouraged people so much that they now spend more time alone, talking online with strangers and very little time with their communities. Increasingly people are connecting to each other through the internet, and looked at positively, one would say internet has increased the frequency of communication among its users. There are pertinent issues to look at today regarding our social interaction compared with the past: • Has our social relation one-to-one improved or diminished?
• Has it provided more evidence of the difference between our virtual self and real self? • Has our group interaction improved or diminished? Users of internet are socially withdrawn because they are most of the time lonely and hooked onto the net. Research has found that the more people are online, the more they become socially isolated ( James E. Katz). The study further shows that people who are constantly online the more they become isolated from social life and that there is a relationship between depression, stress and strength in social ties created by extensive use of the internet.
This on the extreme can weaken the social ties that people normally have. Robert Kraut who is a researcher in the field and professor in the Department of Communication at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N. J. is the leading author of the study. However the finding has been seriously challenged as inadequate and lacking in rigor. The critiques say there needed to have been a control group used for comparison purposes and that the sample size was too small. On the contrary, computer experts are quoted as saying internet has greatly increased their human interaction.
They say that they can now meet more people than ever before. But sociology experts say this is more a manifestation of people in a state of denial than the truth. But the truth is that there are two divergent views about computers and its social effect on people. Hoffman and partner Tom Novak at Vanderbilt University’s Project 2000 have for example have conducted a collaborate research with Georgia Institute of Technology in which they find many web users find the net browsing enriching and satisfying and that they are usually left in a happy state of mind far from being depressed.
Philip Aspden, executive director of the Center for Research on the Information Society, surveyed 2,500 Internet users and found no evidence of social withdrawal. The study found that online participants are no less likely to join religious, leisure or any community organized activities than people who aren’t online. Virtual interaction is the norm in internet activities. People using portable computers can work in one office, one project without necessarily being physically in a place.
They could be several kilometers away and do everything together that they could do in one environment, one office, and location. They can talk and hold meetings and discussions together. Internet has made the world look like a one local village. The issue is what is the social implication of this arrangement? Is it positive or negative socially? The answer is positive because the physical location can be anywhere most convenient for the individual. It can be your house / study room, supermarket; or inside your car. People work better when they operate from premises of their liking.
Negative because supervision, control, co-ordination and monitoring becomes difficult. People find such arrangements new and odd though not necessarily bad socially. With time we shall be used to it and our sense of belonging will change. In this discussion we try to bring into focus the positive and negative social impact of internet. However we seem to agree that internet users have more social problems than usual. They are among other things withdrawn from normal social life and in virtual solitude as is commonly known.
It is interesting to hear what some of these people say. Please allow me to quote some experiences from people who use internet. “Every time I go through the process it seems more and more like a religious ritual. When I reflect that I am connected to thousands or millions of people across the world, I forget that I am seated in a solitary confine of my computer room. I admit it is a strange feeling, one that I really like to the extent that I forget the social pleasure I normally find socializing with people outside there.
Sometimes I also get frightened that I am beginning to like my computer mediated communication (CMC) better than talking with most real people with whom I come into daily contact face to face. Though I find it sad to say, I have never enjoyed serious discussions before where people say what is in their heart. Social opportunities and even academic opportunities for such discussions are dwindling. Our culture has become more and more trivial and superficial. ” Through CMC people can find intellectual stimulation. It is easily available and comfortable.
But the human touch is more natural and more satisfying. We are social animals and we need to meet and chart. Intellectualism has its time just as social life also has its time. The other negative aspect of internet is privatization which was introduced by Marshall McLuhan. This theory states that as entertainment and information becomes readily available to people, they are less likely to seek them outside their homes. As that happens, social interaction is becoming less and less frequent. We can select the people to talk to and use special words and mode of communication.
Soon we shall be out of touch with the real world where we have different type of people needing different types of communication. My entertainment, amusement, and even communication have become private rather than public. Family people have very little time for each other because they spend all that time on the net. The young ones are the most affected. During the day, they are out in school and their parents are out for work. When they come home they cannot meet either, because everybody is busy with internet. When will they talk or learn from the parents one would ask?
All that they imitate are programs from the internet, some very weird indeed. As parents we might overlook and despise the experience we got through social interaction with our peer groups and communities while we were young. It taught us to be at peace with our environment. In this environment there is richness found in diversity. The diversity found in behavior and culture of its people. We come to be more informed that the world is made of both order and disorder and become equipped to handle both occurrences. That is how we have been molded to be strong and resilient.
The world of internet is denying our children that freedom and experience. Children never play together at home and very little in school. Computer mediated communication CMC is a new phenomenon in the computer world. There are other technologies more commonly used such as e-mail and interactive chat on the internet. These modes of communication have both bad and good sides. They have made communication, fast, easy and affordable. The physical location of the people we communicate to is no longer a barrier. We talk to people anytime anywhere by a mere touch of a button.
When we play with our peers and join social clubs we meet people and friends and that is healthy for our body and mind. We are able to do some exercise which our body needs to avoid aging. We use our bodies more than our minds. To conclude my analysis on the effects of the internet talking about pornographic ideologies is no new phenomena as it is one of the high condemned vices of the internet as it is being used in all ways. Income generating activities, a source of employment to others but highly exploitative and seriously abusive in all ways, it ranges from child pornography to adult pornography.
Courtney from Study Moose
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