The Positive and Negative Effects of the Internet

Table of Content

The Internet, which is also referred to as the internet, is a globally interconnected network of computer networks. These networks are connected using the standard Internet protocol suite (known as TCP/IP, although not all applications use TCP) and serve billions of users worldwide. The Internet encompasses various types and sizes of networks including private, public, academic, business, and government networks. They are linked together through electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.

The Internet is a vast network that offers a multitude of information and services, including interconnected hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and infrastructure for email. One advantage of the present-day Internet is its flexibility in terms of working hours and location, made possible by unlimited high-speed connections. Furthermore, diverse approaches such as mobile Internet devices enable access to the Internet from virtually any location.

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Various devices, including mobile phones, datacards, handheld game consoles, and cellular routers, allow access to wireless connectivity. Although these compact devices have limitations like small screens and limited features, users can still use internet services such as email and web browsing. Service providers may impose restrictions on available services, and mobile data charges might be higher compared to other methods of access. Websites offer educational resources for a wide range of education levels from pre-school to post-doctoral studies.

The internet has transformed the way individuals can access educational content, making it effortless to find resources from various sources like CBeebies, school and high-school revision guides, virtual universities, and even scholarly literature through platforms like Google Scholar. This accessibility is particularly advantageous for distance education, homework and assignments, self-guided learning, and exploring interesting subjects. Both formal and informal education greatly benefit from the internet and the World Wide Web.

The collaboration software and the Internet have greatly improved the convenience of sharing ideas, knowledge, and skills within groups. The free software movement has utilized the Internet to develop notable products like Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and Various internet chat platforms such as IRC chat rooms, instant messaging systems, and social networking websites make it easy for colleagues to stay connected while working on their computers. These communication platforms offer faster message exchange than emails and provide features like file sharing, drawing and image sharing, voice and video contact among team members. Additionally, content management systems enable collaborating teams to work on shared documents simultaneously without worrying about unintentional damage to each other’s work.

Business and project teams can collaborate and share calendars, documents, and other information. This collaboration is seen in various fields such as scientific research, software development, conference planning, political activism, and creative writing. Social and political collaboration is also increasing with the spread of Internet access and computer literacy. The Internet enables users to easily access other computers and information stores remotely, with or without computer security measures like authentication and encryption. This has led to new opportunities for working from home, collaboration, and information sharing in multiple industries. For instance, an accountant working from home can audit a company’s books located in another country on a server maintained remotely by IT specialists in a different country. These accounts may have been prepared by bookkeepers who also work remotely in various locations worldwide, using information emailed to them from global offices.

In the past, private leased lines were too costly for various activities due to the limited popularity of the Internet. However, nowadays individuals can conveniently engage in several tasks online. They can effortlessly access their emails, utilize cloud computing to retrieve data, or connect securely to their office computer through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Consequently, office employees can maintain connectivity regardless of their location, whether they are on a business trip or vacationing overseas.

This feature, known as Virtual Private Nightmare[37], allows employees to access their regular files, data, email, and other applications outside of the office. It extends a company’s network security to remote locations and employees’ homes, according to system administrators. Email is an essential internet-based communication service that enables individuals to send electronic text messages similar to traditional letters or memos.

Email attachments are often used to send various types of files such as pictures and documents. It is common practice to include multiple email addresses in the carbon copy when sending emails. The Internet has played a vital role in the advancement of Internet telephony, also known as Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), which serves as the fundamental communication protocol for all internet-based communication. VoIP was initially developed in the early 1990s, when voice applications on personal computers resembled walkie-talkies. Nowadays, numerous VoIP systems provide similar ease and convenience as traditional telephones.

VoIP offers cost-effective advantages, potentially being free or cheaper than traditional phone calls. This is particularly beneficial for long distances and individuals with constant Internet access through cable or ADSL connections. Additionally, VoIP has become a viable alternative to conventional telephone services by improving interoperability between different providers, enabling calls between VoIP and regular phones. Moreover, there are now affordable and user-friendly VoIP network adapters that eliminate the need for a personal computer.

Although voice quality in VoIP calls may vary from call to call, it is often comparable to or superior than that of traditional calls. Nevertheless, concerns still exist regarding emergency number dialing and reliability in VoIP. While certain providers do offer emergency services, accessibility is not universal. Unlike traditional phones that rely on the line for power and continue to function during power outages, VoIP necessitates a backup power source for both the phone equipment and Internet access devices to remain operational in such scenarios.

VoIP has become popular in gaming applications for player communication. This includes widely used VoIP clients like Ventrilo and Teamspeak. Additionally, VoIP chat features can be found on Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

The usage of the Internet has seen significant growth. From 2000 to 2009, the global number of Internet users increased from 394 million to 1.58 billion. In 2010, around 22 percent of the world’s population had access to computers. As a result, there were daily occurrences such as one billion Google searches, blogs being read by 300 million Internet users, and two billion videos viewed on YouTube.

English has been the primary language for internet communication due to its origins and role as a lingua franca. Initially, computer systems were limited to characters within the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), which is a subset of the Latin alphabet.

The demand for multiple languages on the World Wide Web is high. English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and German make up 27%, 23%, 8%, 5%, 4%, and 4% of the requests respectively. Arabic, French, Russian, and Korean each account for 3% of the requests. In terms of region distribution, Asia has the highest number of Internet users at 42%. Europe follows with 24%, North America with 14%, Latin America and the Caribbean with10%, Africa with6%, the Middle East with3%, and Australia/Oceania with1%. The development and communication in various Internet languages have been significantly enhanced by recent advancements in Unicode technology.

Despite the presence of certain glitches like mojibake, internet usage patterns between men and women have shown interesting trends. A 2005 American study found that men slightly outnumbered women in overall internet usage, but this reversed among individuals under 30 years old.

In terms of specific behaviors, men exhibited higher frequency of logging on to the internet, spending more time online, and showing a greater inclination towards broadband usage. Conversely, women made use of communication opportunities such as email more frequently.

Moreover, it was discovered that men were more likely to utilize the internet for activities including bill payments, participating in auctions, and engaging in recreational pursuits like downloading music and videos.

In terms of online shopping and banking, both men and women used the Internet equally. Nevertheless, recent research suggests that in 2008, women were more dominant than men on social networking platforms like Facebook and Myspace, with variations based on age. Additionally, women consumed more streaming content compared to men who preferred downloading. Men showed a greater interest in having professional blogs, whereas women were more inclined to have personal blogs. These disparities have resulted in various societal effects.

The Internet has had a profound impact on social interaction, activities, and organization due to its accessibility and usability. With the widespread availability of the Internet in the 21st century, the rise of “digital natives” has resulted in new concerns about personal privacy, identity, and copyright infringement that previous generations did not encounter. Furthermore, the Internet has significantly influenced the realms of social networking and entertainment.

Many people use the World Wide Web to find news, weather, and sports information, as well as for trip planning and reservations. They also utilize chat, messaging, and email to build and maintain global friendships similar to having pen pals in the past.

The Internet has seen an increase in popularity of Web desktops that allow users to access their files and preferences online.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have revolutionized socializing and communication on the internet.

These websites enable users to contribute various types of information, engage in shared interests, and connect with others. They also offer tools for discovering and communicating with existing acquaintances or groups. LinkedIn primarily emphasizes cultivating professional relationships, whereas YouTube and Flickr are tailored for sharing videos and photos. Since its inception, the Internet has served as a prominent platform for recreational activities like social experiments (MUDs and MOOs) conducted on university servers, as well as Usenet groups dedicated to humor that have gained substantial popularity.

The Internet today offers a multitude of sections on its forums dedicated to games, funny videos, and popular short Flash cartoons. Blogs and message boards provide platforms for over 6 million people to communicate and share ideas. The internet pornography and online gambling industries have successfully used the World Wide Web as a significant source of advertising revenue for numerous websites. Despite government efforts to limit access to these industries on the internet, they remain widely popular. Online multiplayer gaming is another favored leisure activity that creates communities where individuals from diverse backgrounds can participate in fast-paced multiplayer games, including MMORPGs, first-person shooters, role-playing video games, and even online gambling. Although online gaming has been present since the 1970s, it has evolved with subscription services like GameSpy and MPlayer. Non-subscribers faced restrictions in terms of gameplay options or specific games.

Both free and paid services are widely utilized on the Internet for accessing and downloading music, movies, and other entertainment. These activities can be facilitated either by centralized servers or distributed peer-to-peer technologies. Nevertheless, it is not ensured that these sources equally prioritize safeguarding the copyrights of original artists. Moreover, there exists a link between internet usage and feelings of loneliness among users. Individuals who experience loneliness frequently seek solace in expressing their emotions and sharing experiences with others online, as exemplified in the “I am lonely will anyone speak to me” thread.

Cybersectarianism is an emerging type of organization in which small groups of practitioners, who may be mostly unknown within society, operate covertly but remain connected to a larger network of believers. These practitioners share common practices, texts, and often hold a shared allegiance to a specific leader. Supporters from foreign countries offer financial backing and assistance while local followers distribute literature, engage in acts of defiance, and exchange information about the group’s internal affairs with external parties.

Members and practitioners of certain religious groups form virtual communities of faith, sharing personal stories and participating in group studies through email, chat rooms, and message boards. However, this can result in cyberslacking, which is when employees spend an excessive amount of time on the internet at work. A study conducted in 2003 by Peninsula Business Services found that the average UK employee spent 57 minutes per day browsing the web while on the job. Additionally, excessive computer use that hinders daily life is known as internet addiction disorder.

Psychologist Nicolas Carr suggests that Internet use can have various effects on individuals. It can improve scan-reading skills but also interfere with deep thinking, which is crucial for true creativity. Additionally, the Internet has gained significance as a political tool. The successful use of the Internet for soliciting donations during Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign in the United States demonstrated its political relevance. Various political groups now utilize the Internet to organize and carry out their missions, leading to the rise of Internet activism. This form of activism was notably practiced by rebels during the Arab Spring. According to The New York Times, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter facilitated organization and communication among protesters during the political revolutions in Egypt. This helped certain groups of participants coordinate protests, express their grievances, and share information. Simon R. B. Berdal thoroughly explored the potential of the Internet as a civic tool for communicative power in his 2004 thesis. He highlighted how the Internet provides new access points to virtual discourse forums, consequently promoting new civic relations and associations where communicative power can flow and accumulate.

Traditionally, national-embedded peripheries become involved in more powerful international peripheries, resulting in a change to the “centre-periphery” model. The Internet stimulates conventional peripheries to connect and form “super-periphery” structures, which enclose multiple centers simultaneously. Berdal extends the Habermasian concept of the Public sphere to encompass the Internet, emphasizing the global and civic nature that intertwined Internet technologies offer.[67]

Berdal states that in order to control the increasing civic power of the Internet, precautionary measures are implemented by those who perceive it as a threat. For instance, China’s efforts to filter out content deemed inappropriate can be seen as a self-protective measure to counteract the expanding civic potential of the Internet. These measures, however, restrict peripheral capacities. Consequently, the Chinese government strives to impede the accumulation and release of communicative power (as evidenced by the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, which led the government to consider implementing “upstream measures”).

Despite its limitations, the Internet is proving to empower the Chinese periphery as well. Analysts believe that internet petitions have influenced the implementation of policies in favor of the public’s expressed will online… [67] Furthermore, low-cost internet access in developing countries has opened up new opportunities for peer-to-peer charities, allowing individuals to contribute small amounts to specific charitable projects for others. DonorsChoose and GlobalGiving are platforms that enable donors to direct funds to individual projects they choose.

Peer-to-peer lending for charitable purposes has become a popular form of internet-based philanthropy. Kiva, founded in 2005, was the pioneer in this area by creating a web-based service that presents individual loan profiles for funding. Kiva raises funds for local microfinance organizations and shares updates on behalf of the borrowers. Lenders can contribute as little as $25 to loans of their choice and receive repayment from the borrowers. Although Kiva is not strictly a peer-to-peer charity since loans are disbursed before being funded by lenders and borrowers do not directly communicate with lenders, genuine international person-to-person philanthropy has become more accessible due to affordable internet access in developing countries. In 2009, Zidisha capitalized on this trend and became the first person-to-person microfinance platform to connect lenders and borrowers across borders without intermediaries. Members can fund loans starting from one dollar, enabling borrowers to enhance their families’ incomes through business activities while repaying loans with interest.

Borrowers can access the internet through various means such as public cybercafes, donated laptops in village schools, and smart phones. They then create their own profile pages to share photos and information about themselves and their businesses. Through these profile pages, borrowers can also update and communicate with lenders as they repay their loans. This web-based connection allows members to take on communication and recording tasks that were traditionally done by local organizations. This not only bypasses geographic barriers but also reduces the cost of microfinance services for entrepreneurs.

As high-speed internet connections become more widespread and data transfer becomes more efficient, the Internet will replace all digital broadcasting mediums. It will also be used to transmit household and business utility readings, fulfill automated dairy produce replenishment requests from intelligent fridges triggered by microchip-embedded sell-by dates, reduce conventional phone traffic, and eliminate cell phone congestion once wireless or wi-fi hotspots are more prevalent.

The popularity of multiplayer real-time online games has greatly increased due to advancements in broadband reception and video compression techniques. These games create diverse and fantastical worlds filled with peculiar planets and extraterrestrial beings, captivating thousands of players each month who compete for rewards, armaments, and dominance in these surreal landscapes. However, the potential of this technology may be hindered by the politics surrounding the Internet.

The United States effectively controls the Internet through ICANN, which manages IP addresses and root name servers. Despite discussions at a UN World Summit in Tunis in 2005, no resolution was reached regarding an international domain governing body. However, an agreement was made to establish an Internet Governance Forum. It is evident that the United States is reluctant to relinquish control over the powerful platform of the Internet. The US may also have concerns about the effectiveness and security of an internationally represented body managing it.

The advancement of ultra high-speed communication technology, software, and digital media in the next decade is undeniable. However, some individuals find the idea of the Internet becoming a global communication platform unsettling due to its vulnerability to attacks. Unlike anticipated Cold War era attacks that would disable routers with electromagnetic pulses from nuclear missiles, these attacks are initiated by hackers, criminals, or terrorist organizations from within to cause significant damage.

The Internet has built-in redundancy, but its fast file transmission speed allows viruses to quickly infect thousands of computers. Although firewalls and advanced firmware in routers help prevent these attacks to some extent, introducing unique internet identities for individuals may further deter cybercriminals.

Internet access could be provided if the user’s personal identification is verified and each packet of data during the session has its own encrypted signature, similar to how TCP/IP envelopes include addressing information. By doing so, it would be possible to trace any malicious activities back to individual users rather than the computers they originate from, which could serve as a deterrent. The level of controversy surrounding internet identities varies depending on individuals’ perspectives. The growth of the Internet has been incredibly rapid, or has it?

Global communication has been made possible by the cumulative acts of creation. The Internet, which was initially utilized solely by scientific and military communities, has now become a platform accessible to all for expression and research. Every day, numerous new webpages are added, while popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing facilitate millions of searches that cater to our information needs.

However, 45 years ago, despite limited technology and the high costs involved in managing information, there still existed a strong thirst for knowledge. Approximately 65 years ago after World War II, the first computers and man-machine interfaces were being developed to address this need.

Initially, during this time period, there were innovators who suggested the idea of enhancing human intelligence by automating repetitive tasks and assigning them to machines. A specific individual named Vannevar Bush, in his 1945 essay titled “As We May Think,” imagined a future where a device called a “memex” could improve human memory by storing and retrieving interconnected documents, similar to how the brain’s cognitive functions link and reinforce memories. This essay reflects the development of the Internet after World War II.

Bush’s emphasis on uniting the military, scientific communities, and business leaders surpassed his accomplishments in computing science. He was instrumental in founding the National Defence Research Committee (NDRC), which eventually transformed into the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). This move effectively elevated technological research as a key component for achieving success in World War II, while also promoting recognition of science within the military.

Following the war, America showcased its commitment to scientific research by establishing the National Science Foundation (NSF) and government-backed scientific institutions. In 1958, as a response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was founded. Joseph Licklider, a psychologist, became part of ARPA in 1962.

He expanded on Bush’s achievements by anticipating the advancement of the contemporary personal computer and computer networking. He also wrote a paper called ‘Man Computer Symbiosis’ which explored the connection between humans and machines. Additionally, he obtained a computer from the US Air Force and led multiple research teams. Under his leadership, research contracts were established with prominent computer institutions and companies, which eventually became the ARPANET and established the groundwork for the initial networked computing consortium.

The text highlights their joint efforts in overcoming connectivity issues between computers from different manufacturers. These computers had incompatible communication protocols, making direct communication nearly impossible. It is worth noting that Lick, who was primarily a psychologist fascinated by human thought, became involved in computing due to its natural alignment with his interests.

Douglas Engelbart, an important figure in web history, became notable during this time. After completing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and working as an Assistant Professor at Berkeley, he established the Augmentation Research Center. This center was dedicated to studying the human interface, storage and retrieval systems. Through funding from ARPA, Engelbart developed the NLS (oNLine System), which was the first system to utilize hypertext (a term coined by Ted Nelson in 1965) for organizing documents. He is also credited with inventing the first mouse or pointing device.

During the same time that revolutionary thinkers were laying the foundation for the Internet, major hardware companies were consolidating their computing projects. Bell, for example, created the first commercially available modem known as the Bell 103, which was sold by ATT. Additionally, DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) introduced the mass-produced minicomputer called PDP-8. Another significant milestone was the first live transatlantic TV broadcast via ATT’s Telstar 1 satellite. Credit should also be given to Paul Baran for his idea of using packets, which are small portions of a message that can be reassembled at the destination. This concept forms the basis of current internet transmission and reception.

Baran’s research at the RAND Corporation focused on examining the ability of data transmission systems to withstand nuclear attacks. He accomplished this by establishing distributed networks consisting of interconnected nodes, which guaranteed that if one node failed, the network would remain functional. In these networks, information packets were directed and switched to determine the most efficient route before being reassembled into a complete message at their intended destination.

Modern day packet switching is automatically controlled by routers. According to the article “The Internet Explained” written by Vincent Zegna and Mike Pepper for Sonet Digital in November 2005, the Internet functions as a network of computer networks interconnected by different communication lines with varying speeds. Routers are strategically placed throughout this vast network to direct traffic towards specific destinations or confine it within defined regions.

The vast scale can be simplified into two primary actions: requesting information and serving such requests. These actions define the relationship between clients and servers, the two types of computers using the Internet. Whether connected to a LAN at a business or through a cable modem at home, computers that request information from a network or the Web are considered clients. On the other hand, machines that provide the requested information are known as servers.

The distinction between computers requesting and delivering information is not as polarized in practice, but it forms the basis for the Internet. Web servers host websites, email servers forward and collect email, and FTP servers upload and download files. Home users access the World Wide Web through various connections like dial-up modem, cable (broadband or ADSL), Fibre-Optic, or wireless connections to their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Business users usually connect to a local area network and gain access through a communications server or gateway linked to the Web via an ISP. ISPs may also be connected to larger ISPs, leasing high-speed fiber-optic communication lines. These gateways serve as entry points to the Web with the largest ones maintaining its “backbones,” connecting networks worldwide. Addressing on the Web remains essential.

TCP/IP, or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, is the established set of protocols responsible for transmitting information over the Internet. It handles the connection and management between two computers and the data packets they exchange. Every computer connected to the Internet has a unique IP address. This address can be assigned dynamically upon connection or remain fixed, like that of a web or name server hosting websites.

The current version of IP, version 4, has 4.3 billion unique addresses. This was considered sufficient a few years ago. However, there are now only a billion addresses left. This is not enough to handle the increasing number of new users and hosts coming online, as well as the emerging technologies that require IP addresses, such as internet-enabled machines and internet phones.

IPv6 has addressed the deficit by offering a solution. With its vast number of address slots (340 billion billion billion), IPv6 provides unlimited web access and guarantees robust security encryption. ICANN, a non-profit organization known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is responsible for distributing Internet IP address space and overseeing DNS management in North America.

The majority of users do not need to be aware of the unique identities of the computers they communicate with. Their personal computer software handles it automatically. Instead, they can address their email to the desired recipient or access a specific file by logging onto their shared network drive and navigating through folders. An IP address is represented by four numbers separated by periods (e.g., Individuals often use names to remember and refer to these addresses in a similar way as email.

As the Internet grew, it became evident that users would need a way to identify and remember computers apart from IP addresses. This need for identification resulted in positive outcomes, including instant communication and the ability to connect with people one may not have otherwise met.

Despite the negative consequences associated with pornography, such as its exploitation for monetary purposes and its potential risks to children in terms of stalking, abuse, or abduction, there are also positive aspects. These include the opportunity to connect with individuals from diverse nations and the convenience of exchanging information. Nevertheless, it is imperative not to dismiss the detrimental effects.

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The Positive and Negative Effects of the Internet. (2016, Dec 24). Retrieved from

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