The Internet is one of the few technologies that doesn’t have a single inventor. It is a series of processes that evolved over time through the efforts of many people. The United States first started using an early version of this connectivity during the Cold War, using it to keep scientists and researchers collaborating with each other.
Now, much of the developed world is fully connected to the Internet, with home usage rates exceeding 90% in some areas. We use this technology for almost anything, and an entire generation can’t imagine life without it because they’ve been using it for all of their lives. Altogether, about one-third of the population uses this resource regularly.
The Internet really began to take off in 1992 when a group of researchers and students at the University of Illinois developed a usable browser. That was the same year that Congress passed laws allowing for this technology to be used for commercial purposes. Now we stay connected with each other through social networking websites, email, direct messaging, and more.
The advantages and disadvantages of the Internet are numerous and individualized. These are some of the critical ideas to review.
List of the Advantages of the Internet
1. The Internet gives us access to knowledge, information, and learning opportunities.
The Internet provides us with an endless supply of information that continuously updates. This resource allows us to access knowledge in ways that were never possible in the past. That means we have more learning opportunities that can help us to grow as individuals, professionals, and families than ever before.
When you use a search engine, such as Google or Bing, you can ask almost any question. Then you can be instantly taken to a webpage with relevant answers and data about your query. We can watch millions of videos on a site like YouTube to learn something new, or even take college classes with this resource.
2. It connects us to other people in ways that weren’t possible in the past.
If you wanted to communicate with someone without a landline before the Internet, your only option was to write that personal letter. It could take days, and sometimes even months, to receive mail from someone else. Items could get lost during this process, which means your words might never reach the person you were trying to encourage or inform. Because of the technology that is available on the Internet, you can send an email to anyone in the world with delivery in under 60 seconds.
Other forms of communication are also possible because of the Internet, including VoIP services, chat rooms, and direct messaging so that you can have an instant conversation with anyone else who has a connection.
3. Supportive communities develop online because of the Internet.
Online forums are one of the best innovations that the Internet provides us to use. These places are a spot where people who share common interests can connect with one another. They can talk about what they enjoy doing, ask questions or offer advice, and take advantage of learning opportunities from experts in their chosen field.
It isn’t a task-orientated benefit either. Forums exist that provide support for health issues, childhood trauma, and domestic violence so that we can all work together to make the world a better place.
4. The Internet helps us to find where we need to go.
The Internet works with GPS technology to help map and direct us to almost every destination in the world today. You can go online to quickly route the best path to follow when finding a business in your area that provides the goods or services you require. The search engines that we use are smart enough to understand where you are, even if you are not at home when making a query.
That means the Internet provides you with the most relevant information for each search based on your needs and geographic location. If you have the need to hire a landscaper, then requesting that service will give you a list of local providers and their websites.
5. We can manage our finances more effectively because of the Internet.
Instead of receiving a paper statement in the mail, the Internet allows us to access our bank account information at any time. That means you can view your available balance, transfer money between accounts, or pay your bills electronically. It prevents payments from getting lost when you send them with a postal carrier while offering immediate compensation for those who receive the funding. This benefit allows us to save money on stamps, late fees, and other potential penalties.
6. The Internet allows us to shop for what we need online.
Online shopping is another significant advantage to consider when evaluating the pros and cons of the Internet. E-commerce platforms let us find goods and services of interest, giving us the option to purchase them online instead of visiting a physical store. It also provides us with an efficient way to compare prices between manufacturers, companies, or platforms to make sure that we get the best price possible.
Public reviews about companies, products, or services give us a way to be confident when making an online purchase. This structure provides us with the advantage of having a better understanding of all of the purchasing decisions we make each day.
7. We can create employment opportunities because of the Internet.
The Internet provides us with several ways to find employment. You can decide to be a freelancer and offer services directly to others through a website you own or platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. If you own a business, then a domain allows you to create an e-commerce platform that you can use to buy and sell goods or services. Since the Internet is almost everywhere in the world today, you have more access to potential customers than any local store.
The Internet is always on, even if some websites experience downtime. That means you have the potential to make money at all times because there is always a place in the world experiencing normal business hours. You can advertise what you offer to everyone within the specific demographics you want to reach with very little effort.
8. The Internet provides telecommuting options for employers.
Having an Internet connection available makes it possible for people to work from home or to operate a virtual office. Many businesses today allow their workers to use telecommuting as an option if their equipment meets or exceeds required specifications. When employees have an opportunity to avoid a daily commute, then it can help them to save money by avoiding childcare costs while reducing the wear-and-tear on their vehicles.
That means every small business has an opportunity to tap into a global workforce of experts. Even though competition levels are higher than ever because everyone can access the Internet, you also have more scalability options because of the greater access to expertise.
9. Charitable donations are easier to manage because of the Internet.
The Internet provides charitable organizations with access to a much wider and more diverse audience. Anyone with a connection can quickly donate to a favorite cause. It is also possible to fund projects or ideas that are interesting or benefit the public in some way with only a couple of clicks. The rise of crowdfunding platforms makes it possible for us to help each other at the same time, with memorial funds and hospital bill campaigns giving us ways to manage the high costs of care – especially in the United States.
The Internet also helps charitable organizations find the online services they need to make their efforts more efficient. These connections can also help them to secure more volunteers to do good things locally.
10. The Internet provides us with plenty of entertainment options.
The number of streaming services that are available on the Internet today allows us to have a never-ending amount of content to consume. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Crackle, and many others let us watch our favorite shows and movies for a low price.
The Internet also lets us play games on social networking sites, through platforms like Xbox or PlayStation, and on independent websites. We can listen to music while we are working online. We can even stream our favorite songs or sounds around the house with Bluetooth technology. That’s why not having access to this technology can make life feel boring in many ways.
11. Cloud computing and storage expand our abilities to keep data.
The Internet connects your computers and enabled devices to cloud services that include computing and storage. That means you have access to more powerful platforms to complete complex tasks while you or your business continues to work on other tasks. The rise of quantum computing technology is expanding the influence of this advantage, making it possible to create entirely new resources because of how fast the calculations occur.
Cloud storage provides us with the opportunity to synchronize data across your devices. That means you have access to your files from almost anywhere. It is easier than ever before to backup information, making your data secure on professionally-maintained servers. If something happens to your home or business equipment, then you can restore your functionality almost immediately.
12. The Internet of Things helps us to create a smarter world.
The Internet makes many of our devices become connected and smarter because of their online design. You can connect a thermostat to control the heating and cooling of your home remotely or automatically. Your locks, lights, and outlets can receive the same upgrade. These improvements lead to a world where we are more efficient with our resources, helping us to save time, energy, and money.
List of the Disadvantages of the Internet
1. What can be used for good can also be used for evil.
Anyone who has ever spent some time on the Internet has encountered abusive people. There are trolls, stalkers, and cyberbullying that happens regularly on a variety of platforms. Because it feels like someone can be anonymous when they sit behind a screen or mobile device, the filters that we use when speaking with each other go away. That means a lot of people treat each other unkindly when they are online.
Hidden places on the Internet, such as the deep web, can even make it a place for criminals to conduct business. There isn’t as much of a risk of getting caught, especially when cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can facilitate transactions.
2. Pornography and violence are prevalent on the Internet.
Although not everyone would consider this issue a disadvantage, exposing children to violence or pornographic images before they are mature enough to process them can be detrimental to their development. Teens who watch movies or listen to music that glorify specific behaviors are more likely to pursue them in real-life situations. It is an issue that can lead to drug use, drinking, violence, and risky sexualized behaviors.
Children who have sexual intercourse by the age of 13 are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, engage in risky behaviors frequently, and use drugs or alcohol before sex.
3. It creates an addiction to technological devices.
Using the Internet can quickly become addictive for many people. You can find a massive amount of information to review, spend time connecting with friends on social networking sites, or play games while at work. Instead of doing something productive, this technology off and promotes something that is frivolous.
21% of employees in the United States say that they spend up to five hours each week on the Internet during working hours doing something that isn’t related to their career. Even when a company has policies in place that block personal websites during working hours, employees can use their personal devices to access the information they want.
4. People struggle to disconnect from work because of the Internet.
The average employee, even if they are in an entry-level position, will spend between 3 to 7 hours working outside of their usual shift because of the Internet. Managers and executives put in up to 20 extra hours per week. Being available for work at any time of day due to this technology can make it challenging to transition from professional responsibilities to personal ones.
Even if you are not on the clock, a notification that an important work email is in your inbox creates a temptation to check it. That means workers are often being productive without getting paid for their work.
5. The Internet can provide people with your private information.
With billions of computers operating around the world, hackers or malicious users can access accounts through the Internet to locate and steal personal information. These connections allow for a quick scan of millions of computers simultaneously to quickly identify vulnerabilities that are open for exploitation. When someone has your identity information, they can use it in unauthorized ways to gain access to new financial resources.
6. Students can use the Internet to cheat.
The Internet allows students of any age to cheat on their tests or find ways to get around assignment requirements. One of the fastest-growing areas of e-commerce that you can find online involves professional writers who get paid to produce essays for high schoolers, college students, and even doctoral candidates.
Even if a student tries to be above board with their work, the prevalence of mobile devices today allows for Internet access while seated in a classroom.
7. The Internet exposes all of us to more advertising.
The Internet provides businesses with an opportunity to reach a wider audience than television, radio, or traditional print media. It occurs on such a massive scale that many people tune it out because it is present on every website today. Many find that the amount of spam that goes into their junk mail is much more likely to get sent their way than a meaningful message from someone they know.
That means the amount of information that we receive each day is primarily useless. We delete it from our accounts in the same way that we throw away junk mail when it arrives in our mailbox.
8. Going online can adversely impact a person’s focus and patience.
When we use the Internet, then this technology gives us an instant gratification effect. We can find what we want, when we want it, at any time of day. When we receive information through this structure, then it rewards our ability to search for data instead of trying to recall it. This process impacts our interactions in general, making you more impatient and less focused on meaningful activities.
The best way to balance this natural disadvantage of the Internet is to spend time away from it. Focus on having productive, real-life activities that include exercise, time with your family, and other fun events.
9. Frequent Internet use can lead to social isolation.
The networking websites that billions of people use regularly can lead to issues of social isolation. It can also create feelings of loneliness or begin the process of forming clinical depression. Although the Internet and online gaming facilitate communication with other people, this structure causes individuals to disconnect themselves from their real-life relationships as they make new connections with people they’ve never met online.
10. Using the Internet often requires a sedentary lifestyle.
If you spend too much time sitting, then you are at a higher risk of obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. Most people use the Internet while on a couch or sitting behind a computer. Unless conscious decisions are made to become more physically active, a host of health problems can start to develop over time.
Using a computer also means that your body must go through repetitive movements frequently. A common injury for those who use the Internet often is called carpal tunnel syndrome. It occurs when you move your hand from your keyboard to a mouse repetitively, followed by similar typing actions. Keeping a correct posture, taking breaks, and understanding the ergonomics of computing can help with these issues, but it may not prevent them from happening.
11. You might decide to purchase things that you don’t really need.
The Internet does an excellent job of reducing the barriers that people have when connecting to information or other individuals in real-life situations. That also means the entire online world becomes a place where impulsive purchases become a possibility. Many users find themselves buying things without putting much thought into whether or not they need the products or services in question.
Working with e-commerce platforms can become such an addictive process that it can lead to severe debt in some situations. Since a debit or credit card facilitates these transactions, it can be challenging to some trying to avoid places on the Internet where this issue could occur.
What will the Internet be like in 50 years? In 100 years? We may not know what it can do today, but it will be a life-changing experience.
Some experts say that keyboards, screens, and the mouse will disappear entirely as we use voice-activated systems. Artificial intelligence and machine learning may be technologies that manage multiple facets of our lives. The world may very well become a mix of virtual and reality, and it might be challenging at times to decipher between the two.
We might have real-time access to information about everything. There could be more ways to communicate. It might even be possible to connect humans to the Internet of Things.
The Internet has come a long way since it crashed when trying to send the word “Login” on its first attempt at communication. When we look at its full potential, it is clear to see that we still have a long way to go.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.