The Internet: Pros and Cons

     The amazingly rapid development of the Internet has provided people with multiple uses they did not previously even dream of. The imperfections of this revolutionary technology are equally valuable for individual users, companies, and institutions. The Internet is a unique information resource for scholars who can use it as an efficient tool for research work. Business people cannot function without it, as they benefit largely from marketing and promoting services on the Internet. Physicians log on to acquire knowledge about diseases and the latest medications. Ordinary people find the Internet a really effective channel of communication with other users around the globe. They establish new relationships online, both personal and professional. Some are even reported to have found their future partners on the net while others take advantage of shopping, banking, or bill-paying possibilities. In short, the Internet has opened up the door to a completely new reality. 

     The Internet channels run in many directions, and users never know where their journey will end. What many of them often ignore is the dark side of such a captivating invention. Problems crop up when the computer world takes over the real world. Some users develop out-of-control behavioral pattern that may threaten their regular lives. Many have attributed it to Internet addiction where user's attachment to his or her computer overshadows and replaces reality. Computer addicts prefer to relate to their silent machine rather than their families and friends. While expanding their electronic horizons, they automatically isolate themselves from real-life relationships. As a result of such Internet abuse, friendships may weaken, family ties may fall apart, and promising careers may collapse.

     The most frequent cases of Internet addiction are home users. On average, they spend about forty hours a week online, absorbed in non-academic or non-business search. It is believed that obsessive net surfing can be as addictive as other popular activities, including smoking, gambling, and shopping. Once they are "hooked," Internet addicts display typical symptoms of addictive behavior, such as loss of control over limiting the time they spend on the net.

     In contrast to addiction, the Internet has its positive and negative sides. However, the borderline between them seems to be almost invisible. The most exciting aspect of Internet communication revolves around the fact that the user's identity is kept unknown. The user feels free and comfortable, acting in a way he or she would never do in real life. Many users usually gain a sense of acceptance from people they have never met before. Those with low self-esteem or those who feel unattractive or shy find it very easy to build their self-confidence and have a sense of importance online.