The Social Impact of the Internet

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Half a century ago, no one could have predicted just how exactly the internet will impact the world. But in just the span of a few decades, the internet completely and irrevocably changed every aspect of life.  The internet is a powerful thing; it is a tool that can be used for almost countless needs. But like many other powerful things, the internet can also be scary. It can pose new challenges just as it can solve problems. The power of the internet to change lives cannot be more apparent in its social impact. As a channel for communication and a source of information, the internet has helped create a more connected society. But at the same time, the internet has given rise to new issues such as social isolation, crime, and political manipulation.

A foremost social impact of the internet is its creation of a more connected society. The internet is primarily two things. First, it is a channel for communication. Second, it is a source of information. One merely has to look at his or her own phone or computer to see the myriad ways that the internet connects people: social media where users can share content, media outlets that dispense real-time news, distance learning, online economic and financial transactions, and so much more. Each of these services have made possible a world where people could contact each other as well as upload, download, and exchange information for whatever purpose. The internet has enabled globalization and turned the world into a village.

Although the internet has had a positive social impact by creating a more connected society, it has had negative consequences as well. One negative effect of the internet is its contribution to social isolation, particularly in relation to social media. Social media can be a great tool for connecting with others. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to increased rates of loneliness, depression, and sense of inadequacy in certain populations. For instance, some studies have shown that social media creates a filtered and unrealistic picture of users’ life, which in turn creates unrealistic expectations for others regarding their own lives. Moreover, some scholars have commented on how the internet contributes to narcissism as many become dependent on positive responses to shared content. A number of scholars have also pointed out how social media often fails to establish meaningful relationships between users. Another negative impact of the internet is crime. The internet is not well-regulated, and thus it has become an avenue for various crimes including fraud, identity theft, bullying, and exploitation of vulnerable groups such as children. For instance, many have noted how the internet can be an unsafe place for children who do not receive parental supervision when browsing the internet. Finally, the internet has also become a tool for political manipulation. The recent years have shown how people could use the internet to influence political processes. For instance, the fact that information on the internet is not always subject to verification made it possible for some entities to spread fake news designed to influence people’s perception

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