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Good and Bad
Entry 325, on 2006-05-11 at 15:51:17 (Rating 2, Computers)
A leading American researcher on the effects of the Internet is visiting New Zealand and was interviewed on radio this morning. He made some interesting points about how the Internet is affecting the life of the increasing number of people who use it regularly.
First, people are spending more time exploring the 'net. As broadband connections become more prevalent, people's browsing habits change. Apart from the increased speed, which allows different media content to be practically accessed, there is the fact that broadband connections are permanent - there is no need to establish the connection over a modem first. I find this myself. If I want details on a subject - maybe something mentioned on TV, or as part of my daughter's homework, or the words to a song, or something I am reading - I just start a quick search and a few seconds later I have the answer.
The Internet is becoming more important as a research, entertainment, and communications tool. People spend less time watching TV when they use the Internet. That's got to be good. But studies show that Internet use doesn't usually lead to a lot less participation in other beneficial activities because it generally replaces other sedentary activities like playing computer games or watching TV.
So it sounds like the 'net is a great thing, with no problems! That's not quite true. There's no good way to protect young and naive people from the "bad side of the Internet". This includes: scams, misleading information and propaganda, porn, and meeting people you wouldn't want to in real life. These are real concerns, but any attempt to control the 'net too much will diminish the good as well as the bad. I suspect excessive control is impossible anyway, but if it was possible I still don't think its beneficial.
The Internet is good and bad, its the best and the worst. Let's not risk the good by trying to eliminate the bad.
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