What exactly is the “Internet”? Imagine millions of computers all around the world linked together and exchanging information. The Internet is a global network made up of thousands of smaller networks. The Internet is like a huge town. If you wanted to send or receive mail you have an electronic post office. There are also libraries you can use any time you want, with millions of books and magazines and newspapers. Chat rooms are like the schoolyard or lunchroom except you can talk to people anytime you want. And on the World Wide Web, you can play games and listen to music (What is the Internet?).
There are lots of good reasons to use the Internet. You can explore ways to learn and have fun. You can play games with other people anywhere in the world and find out interesting things you never knew before. The Internet allows you to access information anytime, anywhere. You can help plan your family vacation, do research for school projects, and read about your favorite movie star. You can exchange documents, pictures, music, video clips, and even software. You can listen to radio stations from around the world and send family photos. With the Internet you have instant communication with people all over the world. You can keep in touch with your friends and meet new ones, and get experts to answer your questions.
But of course the Internet isn’t perfect. It sounds like a dream come true but there are many drawbacks in Internet use. Esther Dyson explains, “At it’s worse the Internet is like a repository of the most inaccurate, banal and slanderous cocktail-party conversation” (352). Basically anyone can make a website and post something on the Internet. There are no rules or laws about the credibility of the information online. Other problems the Internet has created are fraud and invasion of privacy.
A recent survey reported that 143 million Americans are connected to the Internet. That means about 54 percent of the American population have Internet access (Examine Benefits and Drawbacks of Internet Use). The Internet has become one of the most useful and helpful tools available to people today. However, the Internet has pros and cons just like any other type of communication tool.
The Internet was initially intended to be used as a network to connect different colleges, universities, government agencies and research centers. The main driving force behind the Internet is information. Someone, somewhere has some information they want to be read, and that there is someone else interested in reading it. And because of the technology behind the Internet and the World Wide Web all this wealth of information from around the globe and is within the reach of many people (Serano).
The main benefit we gain from the Internet is information. The Internet is full of information and the fact that the information is available at the touch of a button makes getting information very convenient and easy to use. The Internet is always “open”. You can look something up at any time of the day. In addition, with Internet service available from home or work, looking for information doesn’t mean you have to drop what you’re doing and you don’t have to leave your office or your house. Also, nowadays there are “online courses”. Students can now get credit for a course without even leaving their bedrooms! Dyson clarifies that computers and the Internet are very useful but they will never be capable of replacing teachers. Teachers are role models, mentors and motivators to the students and a computer will never have the effect the teacher or the environment of a classroom has on the student (352-53).
Currently, there is so much information on the Internet and looking for something can become tiring. People spend hours looking through different web sites before finding exactly what they’re looking for. Misleading information is serious and can lead to fraud. Fraud has turned into one of the most common Internet crimes (Serano). Many people are going to believe what they see or hear and will become the victims of these crimes. I think the consumer’s lack of caution is to blame. “People not properly prepared for this kind of world will become an increasing problem for themselves and for the rest of society” (Dyson 353).
Another new type of crime is hacking. Hacking is illegal and it involves entry into other computers system. This type of crime has also become very common and could result in great problems worldwide. Once someone has hacked into your computer everything on your computer is at risk. The hackers can snoop through all your information. Laws are in effect to protect against crimes like this, but the knowledge of the hackers grows as fast as the technology, making enforcement very difficult.
Even with all of these dangers, there is still one more issue; the most important issue. Whether we like it or not, every move we make while on the Internet is tracked. Even the web sites we visit are followed. The information people get from following Internet users are very useful to companies. They can get your name and address and send you information about their company. Getting your information can really boost a company’s profit. There is no law that prevents the monitoring of Internet usage, so there really isn’t anything anyone can do about it.
The Internet was originally created by the CIA in the 1960s and now 4 decades later, almost every household in the world uses it. The Internet was created to link information and to send messages within branches of government, now it’s considered a major mass medium. The Internet has many advantages as well as disadvantages for all its users. The Internet keeps thousands of people communicated and businesses linked together. Also the Internet has united two mass mediums. One example of this convergence is newspapers. The Internet has the advantage that it unites people from all over the world. More and more people each day own a computer and are linked to the World Wide Web. Communication has never been easier with sources like voice chat and instant messaging.
Dyson,Esther. “A Map of the Network Society.” The New World Reader. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. (350-356).
Examine Benefits and Drawbacks of Internet Use. 6 Feb. 2002. 2 Nov. 2004
Serrano, Justin. INTERNET: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. 2 Nov. 2004 .
“What is the Internet?” LEARN THE NET: FAQs for Kids. 2 Nov. 2004 .