The Internet: Its Effects on the Individual and the Society
The rise of the internet in previous years led to several changes in the society and among millions of individuals across the world. Both negative and positive changes created a new social landscape where innovations are constantly introduced, thereby changing the society and the ways in which people behave on a regular basis. For the most part, some of the effects of the internet to people and to the larger society include the heightened risk of moral degradation, the increase in the accessibility to and volume of knowledge available, the hastening of communication regardless of geographical limits and the increasing challenges to the strength of nations and the international community in safeguarding the population from the threats to the people.
Online pornography is a rampant problem affecting the internet today primarily due to two basic reasons among others. These reasons include the ease of establishing a website in terms of cost and technical qualifications and the existence of individuals who comprise the bulk of people supporting and creating the demand for such websites. Moreover, it is very difficult to limit the group of people who can access online materials with pornographic or sexually explicit content. While the addiction of certain adults to online pornography is already a huge problem, the more pressing issue is the fact that even minors tend to get hooked into the perverse habit (Fisher and Barak, p. 315). As a result, minors are exposed to online obscenities that degrade their sense of morality.
The increase in the number of websites offering adult content has become a trend in recent years, signifying that the end of online obscenity and pornography is nowhere near in sight. The financial profit gained from creating such websites further push individuals to invest in such online ventures, thereby increasing the number of obscene websites which children can freely access especially with the absence of the guidance of their parents or guardians. The fact that minors can easily gain access to these websites and get hooked into them is evidence to the claim that online perversion has eroded the morality of certain individuals (Gossett and Byrne, p. 691). From a larger standpoint, contemporary society faces the difficult challenge of avoiding the degradation of the people’s morality with regard to the unabated and uncontrolled expansion of the internet. The effect of the degradation of morality through the internet is stronger on the individuals than the society primarily because online pornography attracts individuals at first even before the whole society can take notice of it.
The internet has also been used for several criminal acts which involve individuals who stalk people in social networking sites as well as criminals who operate through the online world. Internet hacking remains one of the most formidable threats to the security of individuals and institutions. Privacy of sensitive information and security of personal property face the dangers of being taken over by online hackers who steal the identities of individuals and bank accounts (Wible, p. 1561), for instance. Unsuspecting users of online social networking sites also face the risk of getting stalked by individuals with sinister motives.
Although there are measures used to safeguard internet users from the dangers of online hacking, the incidences of online hacking continue to persist through the years as hackers continue to evolve in terms of their online methods (Wible, p. 1562). One of the main reasons why online hacking has become widespread is the fact that some internet users—especially those who are new to the internet—are not familiar with the security measures needed to protect themselves from the dangers of online hacking and stalking. Criminals have taken advantage over this weakness of some individuals while realizing the need to keep at pace with the evolution of the security measures in the internet. The effect of cyber crimes is stronger on the society because the very presence of these crimes directly affects the behavior of the entire society. Hacking and online stalking are just some of the dangers in the internet that pose real threats to life and property that can bring damages to people on a large scale (Bigos, p. 586). As the internet knows very little boundaries, the international community faces the great challenge of hunting down cyber criminals who leave very minimal “digital footprints” and of knowing how to deal with them in terms of the international judicial system.
On a positive note, the internet has increased the information available for people regardless of location. Accessibility to online databases of the most relevant data has rapidly increased through time as more and more online repository of files become available to the so-called “browsing” public. Today, students in many learning institutions are given the opportunity to have access to virtual libraries in order to aid them in their academic researches. Professionals now have the chance to purchase rare editions of journals and books in digital form through online archives ready for download with the click of a mouse button. Sharing of knowledge has also become a key feature of the internet as people can share their expertise on specific fields to other people through online forum or blogs. There are also online courses available where people can enroll and learn online through specialized websites tailored according to the teaching services offered by learning institutions (Warschauer, p. 72).
The society largely benefits from the increase in the volume and availability of information through the internet. As individuals receive increasing benefits from online information, the society becomes composed of people who are more knowledgeable and more aware of their surroundings. A society that is more informed is a society that contains great potential in terms of social development. Without the internet, the current trends in information assimilation would have hardly been made possible.
Another positive side of the internet is that it has hastened communication across wide distances. Interestingly, distance has now become irrelevant with the advent of instant messaging services available online. A person living in Germany, for instance, can easily send a message to another person living in the United States through the use of online chat. Emails have also helped people send lengthy messages containing photos and other file formats across huge distances with very minimal delays. Sending and receiving files have never been faster than today where individuals can use their emails to communicate on a regular basis—hourly, daily, weekly, it no longer matters. All these were direct results of the realization of the potential of the internet to dissolve geographical boundaries, in a manner of speaking, and time constraints.
In general, answering the questions concerning how media specifically the internet influences individuals and societies is significant because it enables us to understand the reasons behind their creation and progress. Learning those reasons allows us to realize the ways to improve the status quo because those reasons can serve as bases for us to identify what still needs to be done. The internet affects both individuals and societies. As a result, there is a need for a collective effort in protecting the benefits that we can derive from the use of the internet and in further developing the tools and mechanisms brought forth by the digital revolution. While people continue to derive benefits from the internet, it is equally important to take responsibility of our behaviors while using the internet so that the harms posed by the internet at the same time can be avoided. Identifying the effects of the internet on people and communities is a crucial step in overcoming the current threats and in furthering the advantages derived from the internet.
Bigos, Oren. “Jurisdiction over Cross-Border Wrongs on the Internet.” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 54.3 (2005): 585-620.
Fisher, William A., and Azy Barak. “Internet Pornography: A Social Psychological Perspective on Internet Sexuality.” The Journal of Sex Research 38.4 (2001): 312-23.
Gossett, Jennifer Lynn, and Sarah Byrne. “‘Click Here’: A Content Analysis of Internet Rape Sites.” Gender and Society 16.5 (2002): 689-709.
Warschauer, Mark. “Online Learning in Sociocultural Context.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 29.1 (1998): 68-88.
Wible, Brent. “A Site Where Hackers Are Welcome: Using Hack-in Contests to Shape Preferences and Deter Computer Crime.” The Yale Law Journal 112.6 (2003): 1577-623.