With the development and popularization of computer, Internet plays an increasingly important role in our lives. The high-speed universal internet also makes modern human life more colorful, full of variety of text, images, animation, video, etc. At this time, Internet provides about 400 million people around the world with services such as e-mail, newsgroups, shopping, research, instant messaging, music, videos, and news. Internet is not controlled by any organization, nor is it owned by anybody. It has provided infrastructure for a transformation in business, scientific research, and cultures .
This paper will primarily focus on the development of the Internet in the U.S. This paper will also be discussing: advantages and disadvantages of the Internet.
Today’s Internet has been developing over four decades . In this sense, Internet is not “new”; it did not happen yesterday. Although reporters and experts talk about“Internet” time suggesting a fast-paced, in fact, it has taken forty years of hard work to arrive at today’s Internet.
The development of the Internet can be put into three stages. In the first stage namely the Innovation Phase, from 1961-1974, was constructed based on building blocks of the Internet conceptualized and realized in actual hardware and software. The basic building blocks are: packet-switching hardware, client/server computing, and a communications protocol called TCP/IP . The original purpose of the Internet, when it was designed in the late 1960s, at that time, was Mainframe computers connected together within the university campus . This kind of one-on-one communication between campuses was only possible via phone or mail .
Second stage is the Institutional Phase. From 1975 to 1995, large organizations such as the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation provided funding and legitimization for the new invention called the Internet. Once Internet was verified in federal-sponsored pilot projects, the Department of Defense invested a million dollars to develop the innovation and poilot projects into a powerful military communication system that could be efficiently used in nuclear war. This project laterly contributed to establish ARPANET . Since 1986, the ten-year long $200 million program on Internet civil use was launched by the guarentee of National Science Foundation.
Third stage, known as the Commercialization Phase, lasted from 1995–2001. Government agencies stimulated private corporations to take over and expand of the Internet and local services .ordinary families and individuals can be subscribers, are based all over America and the world. In 2000, the Internet’s use had expanded well beyond military installations and research universities.
advantages and disvantages
The Internet came to ordinary people’s lives in 1990s right after the prevalence of personal computer. There’s no doubt that the popularity of internet has changed people’s lives significantly. It is obvious that people rely heavily on the internet during recent years. Most American college students do their homework and even take courses online. Compared with traditional forms of media such as newspaper, radio, books, the Internet is much faster and more convenient. However, people also realize that Internet development has a negative impact on people’s health and even emotions.
Internet technology has greatly enhanced people’s quality of life and broadened people’s social circle. People can find whatever they want without waiting too long by using search engines such as Google. Communication is not limited to face-to-face anymore and people can express their feelings much more freely on the internet forums. A good example of is in Cheng’s case study that may prove the power of the internet. The year of 2008 was definitely a special and unforgettable year for Chinese people. When Chinese people were looking forward to the Beijing Olympic games, some unpredictable natural and man-made calamities almost made everything out of control. The severe snow storms across Southern China caused massive loss of money, the Sichuan earthquake caused the death of more than 70,000 people and the Tibetan riot angered the Chinese populace. Internet plays a significant role in this whole series of events. In addition to sharing the information and discussing the issues on the forums, people also started some activities on the internet to gather money and support for the disaster areas (Cheng 2009 p. 145). Some activities started on the internet can be in a very large scale because the internet connects people from all over the world. If someone starts a petition on the internet, he/she may receive supports from people of every corner of the world. However, we also need to note that the development of Internet technology also brings forth so many social phenomena and problems which had never been heard of before.
More and more people use MSN and facebook to find new friends every day but actually the number of friends on MSN or Facebook can do nothing with their loneliness. According to my experience, talking to random net friends on the internet wastes a lot of time and gains nothing from it. I used to believe talking to random people may relieve stress or loneliness, but the fact is that I still feel lonely after spending hours talking to my net friends.
Besides the internet’s negative impacts on young people’s physical and psychological health, internet also greatly changed people’s way of communication – from face-to-face communication to internet communication. A study was done in four big cities in China – Hong Kong, Beijing, Wuhan and Taipei. About 60% residents in these four cities are computer users. The respondents’ quality of life was tested by giving them questionnaire and interviewing them. They found that people who usually use the internet to communicate with friends tend to communicate with only a certain group of people even though people who communicate with their family or friends frequently on internet usually have a stronger tie between them. However, the result of the study directly contradicts their hypothesis. The study showed that using internet for interpersonal communication cannot improve the quality of life while face-to-face communication can. According to his study, S. N. Lee noted that “the frequency of talking to family or friends face-to-face for 10 min or more has a positive impact on quality of life” (S. N. Lee et al. 2010 p.383). It is quite easy to explain as the feeling of talking to someone on Facebook, MSN or Skype is quite different from face-to-face communication, which is the reason why some people complain that “I have a hundred friends on Facebook but I still feel lonely”. As we know, face-to-face interaction involves touch and eye contact which make people feel more intimate with each other. A smile or a gesture may give each other warmth and understanding. Thus, a strong and deep relationship should never be built only by communicating on the Internet. S. N. Lee claims that “when they used the item ‘using the Internet to disclose things deep in your heart’ on quality of life, they found that the impact was still significantly negative” (S. N. Lee et al.2010 p.384). It is quite common to see someone telling their sad stories on the internet forums. Though a lot of people console the story tellers on the internet, the story teller may still be overwhelmed by loneliness and pain. It is due to the fact that the internet communication cannot be as deep and strong as face-to-face communication which makes the net friends’ consolation distant and ineffective. When someone feels sad about something, what they need most is the understanding and consolation of their family or close friends, but I do not think a text-form consolation from a stranger has the same effect. Moreover, spending too much time using internet for interpersonal communication may greatly lower the quality of life as more internet communication means less face-to-face communication. The deprivation of face-to-face may directly lead to the degeneracy of communication skills because a deep communication involves eye contact and emotion dissolved in your voice; using internet to communicate is lacking of physical and emotional contact.
Compared with face-to-face communication, the internet chatting and forums also have some negative characteristics. One of the most common drawbacks is that the internet can record everything you posted or said to others. What we said permanently remains on the Internet. If we regret about what we have posted, it is still hard to delete it. Another undeniable problem of the internet forums is that people can say whatever they want on the internet. Some people may use very malicious words to abuse you if they do not agree with your point of view. In addition to language abuse, there are numerous people’s reputation has been ruined due to their private photos being released on the Internet. Making friends on the internet is very likely to impair privacy and even lead to catastrophic consequences.
In spite of the fact that people rely heavily on the Internet and internet has a lot of advantages over books and newspapers, we still cannot deny the problems brought by Internet use. People used to watch movies and learn news through television; they used to use telephone or talk to their friends. However, Internet gradually replaced those media and communicating devices during recent decades. Though internet greatly facilitates long-distance communication and makes people get access to news faster than before, it brings a lot of problems for people’s health and emotion. It is obvious that most of the Internet users are young teenagers because they could get access to internet at an early age which makes internet an important part of their lives. Teenagers tend to be more vulnerable to internet addiction as they have a worse self-control compared with adults. Teenagers who are addicted to internet usually use the Internet for entertaining purpose, such as playing games or chatting with random net friends. Internet addiction results in a lot of health and psychological problems. I think it is quite important to control Internet addiction among adolescents. Parents should be responsible for supervising their children to go to bed on time and to use internet for no more than a few hours a day. Otherwise, I think school work should not rely too heavily on internet as there is too much distraction on the internet. On the other hand, we should never ignore the importance of face-to-face communications, though Facebook, MSN and Skype are getting more and more popular. The development of information technology is just like a double-edged sword; it could be both helpful and harmful but depends on how you use it. Too much of something is bad enough. Internet makes communication more convenient and provides us a huge database that we can find almost whatever we need, but it is still necessary to control the amount of time spending on the Internet.
The development of Internet technology brings human society with great change, How to adapt to this change, to make the corresponding adjustment and coping according to the conditions and changes in the environment in order to re-examine the Internet technology. human demand is changing, at the same time to adapt this new thing, avoid it bound, and to guide, make it serve humanity better.
Cheng, T.C (2009). New media and event: A case study on the power of the Internet. Political Culture of Web 2.0 in Asia, Vol. 22, 146-153
Choi, K., Son, H., Park, M., Han, J., Kim, K., Lee, B., Gwak, H (2009). Internet overuse and excessive daytime sleepiness in adolescents. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Vol. 63(4), 455-62
Deniz, L (2008). Excessive internet use and loneliness among secondary school students. 221 Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 37, 20-23
Lee, P. S. N., Leung, L., Lo, V., Xiong, C.,Wu, T (2010). Internet communication versus face-to-face interaction in quality of life. Quality of Life Research of Life Research: Responses to Emerging Issues in a Changing World, Vol.100, 375-389