What are some advantages and disadvantages of Internet use for children and adults?

The main advantage of internet use is that the internet allows anyone with a computer to readily access vast amounts of information. The global information exchange that takes place on the internet allows people from different backgrounds to share ideas and communicate in ways that were never possible before. A main disadvantage of internet use is that more individuals may be made vulnerable to scams, misinformation, and exploitation. Increasing reliance on the internet may also reduce actual social interaction.

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An advantage of the Internet which may not have been mentioned is that it is making it possible for people to communicate with one another from different parts of the world. This should lead to better understanding among people and hopefully decrease the likelihood of wars. No doubt the Internet will contribute to the development of a single human language in the distant future. That common language seems likely to be English, but that does not mean it would necessarily eliminate all other languages. 

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Advantages and disadvantages of internet use amongst children and adults can be viewed from various angles - objectively, or subjectively. If a person is in favor of technology, then he/she might find more advantages than disadvantages for its use. However, if a person believes in manual work and that technology may one day be used to replace human work, then the he/she may view internet use to be more damaging than good.  In responding to this question, it is my hope to be neutral and state the disadvantages and advantages as matter-of-fact. So here goes...

Internet use has several advantages, of which a few are included below, among children and adults. They are:

1.  It provides access to a wealth of referenced sources and information, as well as, common information from around the globe.

2.  It allows people (i.e. family members, different races and cultures, different economic and social backgrounds, etc.) to connect and exchange ideas, personal and professional experiences, as well as, historical and up-to-date events and activities.

3. It facilitates classroom enrichment activities, opportunities for learning and work, as well as immediate transmittal of critical, or time-based, documents.

Internet use has several disadvantages, of which a few are included below, among children and adults. They are:

1. It can serve as an avenue for predators to find victims.

2. It is available only to families and businesses that have the resources to subscribe to its services, or have access through other locations.

3.  It may cause people to lose track of time and even become severely attached, or addicted, to its use.

 

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Strangely, the advantages of internet use are simply a flip side of the coin with disadvantages. The structure and contributions of the internet are basically unregulated. The information and activity contained within the internet is vast from the most innocent to the most offensive. Before the internet was created or restricted to the use of academics, children and adults were influenced by the size of their immediate day to day contacts. They might expand influence through literature or movies, but literature and movies were basically regulated. Now people can come into contact with information and people that only a short time ago they would never have had contact with even throughout their lives.

Albert Bandura advanced the notion of observational and vicarious learning. This theory is at the heart of the disadvantage of the internet. We are exposed to information we never would have had contact. Through vicarious learning we will likely assimilate some of what we view online. Nothing can be unseen or unlearned no matter how detrimental it may be.

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I have noticed a huge difference at college libraries. The book stacks are nearly deserted most of the time, while the rooms that have computers are packed night and day. The libraries are putting in more computers and more and more. There is never enough of them. This means that education is changing. There is bound to be a lot more electronic education and a lot less book-education. What students seem to like about the computer, including the Internet, is that it is interactive. They can find out what they want to know and not just be passive recipients of whatever is fed to them. I think this is mostly good. I think there will be a lot more education away from school campuses. This has been evolving for many years. First students began driving to school, attending a lecture, and then leaving by car. Now they can attend the lecture by viewing it on the monitor, and they can record it and watch it over again at their own convenience. They may be looking at things that are a little naughty, but if that's what they're interested in they will satisfy their curiosity and then move on to other subjects. The interactive nature of the Internet presents a great challenge to educators, because a hundred students can be following a hundred different topics at the same time. How is the educator going to keep up with all of them? And all this electronic communication and interaction is only in its infancy!!!

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While there are many advantages and disadvantages to the use of the Internet, one or two stand out as the key points for children and adults alike.

The Internet offers a wealth of information, available at any time, from any place with a 'Net connection. For those who live in an area without access to a large, well-stocked library, this is a huge advantage, especially for students and researchers.

This also brings a disadvantage, if the user isn't discerning. Much of the information available is incorrect, incomplete, or misleading. It is crucial to develop critical analysis skills and/or to be able to corroborate information before accepting it as "gospel truth."

Another double-edged Internet point is that there is also a plethora of entertainment sites, including games, available to users. While this allows children and adults alike to learn new skills through games, as well as to simply have fun, it can also quickly become a new addiction, leading to "couch potato syndrome." Like most anything in life, Internet usage can become too much of a good thing.

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The Internet is a marvelous invention. Because of its introduction into education and its availability to just about anyone, the world will probably never be the same.

People of all ages can log on 24/7 in search of whatever they need. The elderly woman who is unable to drive can log onto the Internet and shop for groceries, fill a prescription or even chat with her grandchildren via web cam.

Collectors no longer have to scour flea markets and yard sales on weekends to find coveted items to add to their collections all they have to do is log on to Ebay and post a bid. Anything can be purchased on line now. Clothing, Jewelry, Furniture...even take-out.

As a teacher I have found the Internet to be extremely useful in planning lessons. The web has a plethora of sites created specifically for teachers to share ideas, change information, and share documents (thanks enotes!). Perhaps young people stand to gain the most from using the Internet. In addition to being able to express themselves and show creativity on sites like MySpace and Twitter, they can also use the net for school projects and homework.

Still, for every pro, there is a con. I think that students sometimes rely too much in the internet. They don't seem to understand that just because something is on Google, that doesn't make it a reliable source. I cannot count the number of times a student has turned in an essay that contains incorrect facts from sites that have been created by someone who isn't an authority on the topic.

Chat rooms have become the new playground for sexual predators. The Internet gives them the anonymity they need to lure unsuspecting children into inappropriate conversations and in some cases meeting up with them. There are laws that keep predators away from parks and schools, but none keeping them off the Internet.

Without proper supervision, children can accidentally log on to pornographic websites. Even adults can fall prey to identity theft and stolen passwords if they aren't careful about the things they are downloading onto their computer.

 

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Great answer.  One more potential problem is the same as with books- most people who are writing are trying to convince the reader of something.  In books, other print material and on the internet, some people may be mistaken in what interpretation they put on what they write. An example of this would be a statistical analysis I once read on an internet site.  It said that 86% of statistics found on the internet were simply made up, which could of course include that statistic.  Just as in all research, you need to keep at it long enough to balance out enough information to arrive at a true understanding.

 

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The internet can be both helpful and hindering to people of all ages.

For children, the internet provides a vast library of knowledge. Students literally have the world at their fingertips. Any topic can be researched at any time, day or night. The internet also makes learning the textbook content more interesting by offering games and short videos that students may watch and interact with.

For adults, it is still a wonderful resource for information about diseases, world news, parenting tips, and many other things. Again, adults, like children, can research any topic at any time. There are also games on the internet, as well as forums and groups, that cater to the interests of individuals. Many adults choose to shop online instead of going to the mall or department stores.

The internet, however, can be harmful to children and adults in quite a few ways. Online predators are always out preying on children who will willing give away their personal information. Children may also "stumble" across sites that are inappropriate for them. Some problems for adults that are caused by the internet are pornography, lack of real-life relationships, laziness, and gambling.

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