The internet can be a vital source of information and pleasure if used wisely, within constraints.
The internet has made life, a lot easier by making information more accessible to all and creating connections with people across the world. However, it has also led, a lot of people to spend too much time in front of the computer, so much so that, it has become the center of their lives. In other words, an addiction.
It is alarming to note that every fourth person is addicted to the internet. These manifest in different ways.
Information overload: Excessive online surfing leads to decreased productivity at work and fewer interactions with family members.
Compulsions: Too much time spent in online activities such as gaming, trading of stocks, gambling, online shopping leads to overspending.
Cybersex: Surfing of porn sites often affects real life relationships.
Cyber-relationships: Excessive use of social networking sites to foster virtual relationships other than spending time with family or friends may destroy real-life relationships.
Whenever people feel overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, lonely or anxious, they use the Internet to seek solace and escape. People who find it difficult to relate to friends and relatives in general, take to the Internet to fill this need. The benefit of anonymity and easy exit without coming face to face, fosters this need further.
The Internet affects many areas of our lives:
1. Email: Earlier, communication was slower, as one had to write letters and the post office would get them picked up from various locations and post it at stipulated times. The postcards, Inland letters and stamped covers are available in the post office and it is an effort to purchase and use them. People have accepted the email, as the means of communication since a long time, as one can send and receive communication from the confines of their homes, with no time constraints. Physical activity has reduced since.
2. Online Shopping: Online shopping has become predominant due to ease of shopping comfortably from home. Most shopping sites use the easy returns policy, which has many people addicted to it. Buying things that one does not require, just because it is coming at an attractive cost is a trap, that most of us have fallen into. The financial situation has become grim with over spending. Added to this is the clutter at home. The art of buying wherein people used to visit a few shops and try out the stuff or see it, touch it and feel it, is a thing of the past. Impulsive shopping is in. Family disputes have risen due to this obsession.
3. Gaming: Net-gaming has become a serious addiction. Children have stopped meeting friends and going out to play. Their grades at school have been suffering. Lack of exercise has led to health issues, obesity, addiction and mental disorders. Adults have reduced socializing on weekends and keep busy playing internet games. Relationships and friendships have been strained due to this.
4. Unnecessary Information: The trend has become such that, every small concern, has people turning to the Internet for information. This is more in cases of health issues, wherein extensive information regarding simple symptoms have triggered high levels of fear and anxiety leading to other psychological problems.
5. Cybersex: With information and interactions being easily available on the Internet, people are resorting to initiating intimate relationships with strangers. Women prefer this, as it hides their inhibitions and removes the social stigma that women shouldn’t enjoy sex. Anonymity is an added attraction for both sexes. Men who are anxious about their performance abilities and physical appearance, find this to be a welcome outlet. Many marriages are breaking up due to this addiction which is akin to cheating.
6. Romantic Liaisons: While there have been many successful partnerships or marriages that have come out of social networking sites, the fact cannot be ignored that, many married people are getting attached to others, creating disruptions in their family lives. To recapture the lost zing in their marriages, which happens due to familiarity and responsibilities, many people are resorting to secret online relationships. This trend has created a dent in otherwise, healthy marriages.
7. Family Time: With the advent of smartphones, family time has considerably become non- existent. Communication with the virtual world has usurped real life relationships. People are glued to their phones at all times, during family meals, leisure times, so much so that, they resort to keeping this a secret. With a dearth of quality communication, the family often becomes distanced, in some cases estranged.
While the internet has been extremely useful with various home delivery services, it cannot be ignored that, this has led to decreased physical activity and minimal family bonding.