Impact of the Internet on Society

Table of Contents

The Internet is justifiable referred to as one of the most beneficial technological advances of the 21st century. Despite the increasing concern over the negative impact of the Internet on young people and the increasing risk of online fraud, the Internet improves interpersonal communication, enhances education, and contributes to economic prosperity. The Internet is fast and reliable. It gives every person an opportunity to express himself through writing. The Internet is the source of the most recent information from any part of the world. Disadvantaged people, in particular, benefit from the Internet the most as virtual space is the place to find employment, to gain education, and meet people from all over the world.

Nine years ago, Carmella Kedem (1999) noted, “The Internet creates new ways for citizens to communicate, congregate, and share information of social nature. It is obvious that the Internet has and will continue to change the way we live”. These words became the prophecy as today it is hardly possible to find a person living in a developed country who has never used the Internet for any purpose. The Internet serves several goals: it educates, entertains, and provides information. For example, students have an opportunity to find additional information for any course, while parents may find professional advice on childcare. In addition, the Internet is the largest archive of information in the world. It contains data on organizations, services, laws, employment, etc.

Current Position

According to the Internet World Stats, approximately 22 percent of the global population (1.46 billion people) had Internet access as of June 2008 (The Internet and its Likely Impact upon Society, Business and the Economy 2008). People connect to the Internet from home, work, or through public libraries and Internet cafes. The academic and governmental origins of the Internet play an important role in the nature and development of this technological advance. More and more users become aware of the availability of the immeasurable quantity of free content of high quality. However, the reliability aspect of the Internet starts to change. Sites such as Wikipedia are recognized as authoritative even though they are maintained by the input of volunteers. In other words, any user may log in and provide the information he thinks is important, interesting, or useful.

Impact on Medicine

While the impact of the Internet on education and entertainment is evident, the increasing number of researchers point out significant advances in medicine in relation to the Internet. In particular, the Internet is affordable, and it empowers patients to find quick relief to their health problems. While the Internet does not minimize the importance of visiting doctors, it serves as an extra specialist. Today, the Internet contains a wealth of information on health and diseases. Any person may educate himself on health issues and be much better informed to discuss his concerns with the doctor.

Moreover, the Internet fosters medical research. For example, the National Institute of Health in Maryland is actively using the Internet to unite leading healthcare specialists worldwide (Kedem 1999). This government facility engages the best scientists in the world to work in clinical research. Relocation is not always possible, while Internet technologies create an environment in which scientists can work on the same project without the need to be physically present in a specific location. Therefore, the Internet enhances medical research and advances the development of effective treatments and medications.

The Internet provides people with access to information about traditional as well as alternative medicine. For example, every person can easily find information about alternative Chinese medicine, which is well-known to the global community for its effectiveness. Moreover, every person has an opportunity to ask for advice and recommendation and read feedbacks written by those who have already tried diverse treatments and medications. “The vast sea of medical information available to the public on the Internet empowers patients and their families as they can gain so much knowledge about the newest research and treatments” (Kedem 1999).

Impact on Business

The Internet creates an environment of perfect competition in which prices for a wide range of products can be compared within a couple of seconds. Due to the increasing number of people using the Internet as a source of information, “arbitrage will become a fact of life in the electronic economy. Nowhere will artificially high prices be sustainable” (The Internet and its Likely Impact upon Society, Business and the Economy 2008). There are numerous sites that enable consumers to find the best online offers for any product or service they need. Moreover, the comparison services are delivered for free. Thus, the Internet forces suppliers competing on local, state, national, and international levels to lower their prices to remain competitive.

In addition, the Internet fosters creativity and innovation as businesses must continuously work on the improvement of products to gain the attention of potential consumers. E-commerce is much cheaper than TV advertising but is equally effective. In other words, a start-up business may grow into a large corporation without investment in advertising. Moreover, the Internet presence has already become a must for any business. On the other side, many people use the Internet to gather information before making an actual purchase or ordering a product. For example, the Internet is the best tool to plan a vacation – a person may sit comfortably in his house while surfing the Internet for information on interesting places to visit. Once the place is chosen, a person can easily find any information about upcoming events in the chosen area and even identify the company with the best deal or price on the vacation plan.

Impact on Media and Government

The impact of the Internet on government is two-sided. Firstly, the Internet gives governments an opportunity to enhance information gathering and improve security protection. For example, the Internet empowers government officials to track the flow of information and identify the potential areas of threats. Secondly, the Internet and technological advances present a threat to information protection. Meadowcroft (2006) outlines eight areas requiring peculiar attention: information must be lawfully processed and be used for limited purposes, it must be adequate and not excessive, information must not be kept longer than necessary and be processed in accordance to rights, and it must be secure and not transfers to third parties without adequate protection. The Internet is a virtual space to store, manipulate, distribute and create information. Therefore, news and media organizations are impacted by the Internet. In particular, the Internet gives an opportunity to distribute the most recent news within seconds at a low cost. On the other side, the Internet has the potential to distort information or to present it without proper validity and reliability test.

In conclusion, the Internet has a positive impact on the life of people. It fosters medical research, creates new business opportunities, and empowers users to access the most recent and reliable information quickly and without any costs.

References

Kedem, C. (1999, Spring). . 2008. Web.

Meadowcroft, B. (2006). . 2008. Web.  

. (2008). Web.