There are certain things that are valued such as families spending time together and businessmen honouring their word in business transactions. There are those things that are considered to be a taboo and unacceptable behaviour such as child pornography and being a paedophile. In another category, there are those activities that bring so much pain to families and drain the family resources such as infidelity and gambling. People know that they should refrain or restrain themselves from engaging in such activities. The internet however has made it possible for people to engage in these activities and the effect is being felt worldwide and at deeper and intimate levels.
The internet is a world-wide network accessible to anyone in the world connected to a supporting device. The device can be a computer or even a smart phone. It allows fast communication between any two parties. It has revolutionized the world and the way social networks, businesses and relationships are conducted. The internet has brought a lot of benefits to the world and at the same time has increased the level of negative vices.
Businesses are able to set-up websites that increase their visibility. There are certain volumes of sales and advertising are now conducted online cutting costs. Print and media advertising have higher costs. Companies are able to have alternative working models such as telecommuting where the staff work from home and send their work through mail. There are social networks and mail capabilities that allow individuals to interact, make friends, form relationships and even enter into long-term commitments.
The people are able to express their views on any topic on the internet through blogs and personal websites. Anonymity is guaranteed for the individuals who want to comment on certain topics. All these developments are good however there have been adverse changes brought by internet technology that have affected the tradition and social mores of the community. There are certain things that are valued such as families spending time together and businessmen honouring their word in business transactions. There are those things that are considered to be a taboo and unacceptable behaviour such as child pornography and being a paedophile. In another category, there are those activities that bring so much pain to families and drain the family resources such as infidelity and gambling. People know that they should refrain or restrain themselves from engaging in such activities. The internet however has made it possible for people to engage in these activities and the effect is being felt worldwide and at deeper levels.
Family and Social Time and Interaction
The internet can lead to less human interactions between human beings. Traditionally, people valued meeting together and spending time together however now there are people who have become addicted to the internet and rarely interact with their family members or loved ones. This leads to a gap in the home that gives rise to tension and conflicts. The internet has replaced majority of face-to-face and telephone communications which scientists have put forward as contributing highly to satisfaction and well-being. There are studies that have shown that people who use the internet highly are lonely and depressed (Kraut, Patterson, Lundmark, Kiesler, Mukopadhyay & Scherlis, 1998).
The internet has weakened social ties as the people find that there are really no reasons to leave their homes. They can work, bank, shop and communicate with friends and relatives from the comfort of their own homes. Children and spouses find that they are receiving less and less attention from their family member who has over time become an internet addict. There are several ways that people can recognise internet addiction such as high demand of privacy, seclusion or isolation, anxiety and agitation. Other symptoms include withdrawal, constant surfing and hostility when confronted on the high internet use. The internet provides a forum of escape causing people to create false personalities and make-believe lives which do not reflect the real situation that they are in.
The internet has been a forum that has encouraged criminal acts. The internet encourages anonymity therefore individuals may feel less compelled or restrained to express negative behaviour or opinions. The internet provides a forum for people to express racial and discriminatory remarks. There are also those who engage in on-line gambling and child pornography. There is less fear of actually getting caught by a spouse or the authorities when it comes to child pornography.
The people are more vulnerable in the internet when it comes to self-control in gambling (King & Barak, 1999). With off-line gambling, there will be people to watch that these individuals do not gamble however it is difficult to control what one can do in the internet. These concerns led to the American government passing the Communications Decency Act in 1996 (Tyler, 2002). The internet provides an individual interested in explicit sexual materials with access, affordability and anonymity. Every year there is a reported increase in the number of people addicted to pornography and paedophiles facilitated by the internet.
Relationships and Marriages
The internet adversely affects relationships and marriages. Traditionally, any people who were interested in starting a relationship would meet face to face and interact as they get to know each other. However, now there are different avenues online where singles have been able to meet and start loving relationships. However, there are dangerous uses of the internet when it comes to these dating sites and social networking platforms. The internet has provided a medium for people to have cyber affairs which wreak havoc on their marriages and relationships. Such internet addictions have alienated couples causing the aggrieved partners to give up and leave the home (Barak, Fisher, Belfry & Lashambe, 1999).
Divorce statistics have shown that a growing number of divorce cases have been caused by online infidelity. However the adverse effect of the internet on marriages has been underestimated due to people focusing too much on the benefits of the internet in technological advancement. This all goes back to the three factors of anonymity, convenience and escape (Griffiths, 1999).
First of all, the individual is able to have anonymity increasing his confidence and causing him to feel in control of the situation. It is not the same as when the individual meets the lover in a hotel room or motel. These activities are conducted in the privacy of one’s home. The individual could be in the bedroom or in the sitting room very comfortably. There is also permissiveness of such actions through the rationale that as long as there is no physical contact cybersex is actually not cheating or wrong.
There is the feeling of escape which the individual gets when they join a cyber café to interact with other people. If the marriage or relationship is not working out, instead of the individual dealing with the problem or situation they want the illusion of escape which in turns into a “high” that becomes quite addictive.
The internet has also been deemed to have affected business practices negatively. Internet negotiations present more difficulties compared to face to face communications. There are risks that emerge when strangers are negotiating electronically. This is caused by the lack of face to face interaction. That is why there are so many controls put in place to ensure that both the buyers and the sellers do not lose their investment. People feel less accountably or responsible in cyber negotiations and are more likely to engage in actions that will burn bridges. There will be a lot of mistrust which has to be addressed adequately
The internet has influenced the people and it will continue to transform the society, socially, economically and culturally since it is dealing with the communication and on-line social interaction. The internet is a technology that has brought positive effects such as increased communication, trade and social networks in the life of individuals. However, it has had a negative impact in certain individuals causing them to take actions that go against tradition or social mores. The internet use should be encouraged as there are a lot of benefits to be gained. The important thing will be to mitigate the risks by ensuring that there are stringent laws on unscrupulous people and companies who set up websites to take advantage of the vulnerable members in the society.
Barak, A., Fisher, W. A., Belfry, S., & Lashambe, D. R. (1999). Sex, guys, and cyberspace: Effects of Internet pornography and individual differences on men's attitudes towards women. Journal of psychology and human sexuality, 11, 63-92.
Bargh, J. A., & McKenna, Y. A. (2004). The Internet and social life. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 573-580.
Griffiths, M. D. (1999). Internet addiction: Internet fuels other addictions. Student British Medical Journal, 7, 428-429.
King, S. A., & Barak, A. (1999). Compulsive Internet gambling: A new form of an old clinical pathology. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 2, 441-456.
Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukopadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being? American Psychologist, 53(9), 1017-1031