Undeniably, the internet is the most powerful invention of the 21st century. After all, the internet has become indispensable to our daily lives. People from all over the world use the internet for communication, education, shopping, entertainment, and much more. In addition, it has also given us a forum where we can share our ideas and create content. Above all, the internet is the world’s biggest library of information today.
Despite these benefits, many experts and researchers question the impact of the internet on human well-being. Some believe social media makes people lonely, whereas others have highlighted issues like cyberbullying and Facebook depression. It has given people the ‘freedom of speech but isn’t that being used incorrectly? People sitting behind their computer screens bully people, leave inappropriate comments, etc.
Likewise, many influencers sell the notion of perfection through social media accounts, making people self-conscious. We fail to realize that all these activities take a toll on people’s mental health. It gets them hooked to an artificial world, making them escape reality.
If you want to unearth more about the downsides of the internet, keep reading. Here are six alarming ways internet usage affects our well-being.
1. Exposes People to Cyberbullying
Any idea how cyberbullying works? It is a form of bullying that happens through electronic means such as chat rooms, websites, and social media. People pass derogatory remarks to one another, threaten to leak confidential data, and make inappropriate comments. At times, individuals also run smear campaigns to defame an influential person. They post humiliating videos of people they dislike and send harassing messages.
As cases of cyberbullying have been spiking, people have to handle this problem head-on. After all, it takes a toll on victims’ mental health, leaving them depressed and scared. People who get bullied online lose their confidence, making them feel unvalued and self-conscious.
2. Increased Internet Addiction
There has been mounting debate on whether internet addiction is real. Surprisingly, researchers have found enough evidence that proves the existence of the internet and social media addiction. They conducted a research study on psychological characteristics, social media usage, and personality. Researchers found that people tend to undergo withdrawal if they don’t use the internet for a few hours.
Moreover, people who have become dependent on digital devices also experience anxiety when they stop using them. All in all, these psychological changes are driven by physiological changes. Besides this, internet addiction also results in productivity loss. After all, users spend hours browsing different websites and scrolling their social media feeds.
3. Boosts Self-Consciousness
The internet has created an artificial world in the form of social media. Everyone shares a happy picture of their life, setting unrealistic expectations for the audience. Similarly, bloggers and influencers have created the notion of perfection. Some flaunt their clear skin while others obsess over their luxurious lifestyle. Consequently, people fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. They end up making judgments about whether they measure up and fit into the societal norms. Doesn’t this sound problematic?
Besides putting pressure on people, it makes them unhappy and dissatisfied in their life. They keep comparing if they are better or worse off than their friends, making them self-conscious.
Moreover, this comparison factor can also lead to jealousy. Most individuals admit that seeing others on tropical vacations with well-behaved kids is envy-inducing. Hence, social media offers a breeding ground for invidious feelings.
4. Superficial Relationships
Thousands of followers and Facebook friends, but what about real-life friends? That’s more like an ugly truth of the 21st century. People invest a lot of time in superficial relationships that hinder their well-being. More friends on social media don’t mean you have a better social life. It takes actual social interaction to keep up friendships.
People relying on these social interactions often experience feelings of loneliness and a myriad of health programs. Virtual friend time doesn’t have a therapeutic effect; instead, getting real social support is crucial for well-being. Hence, if you are busy expanding your digital social circle, give yourself a break and step into the real world. Hang out and socialize with your friends to give your mind a break from the internet.
5. Increased Frauds & Scams
Even though the internet is the biggest invention of the 21st century, it is getting misused by many people. Cybercriminals are always on the hunt for sensitive data and confidential information. They break into systems, access people’s devices, and obtain their data. After that, they blackmail people to leak the information and ask for ransom.
Moreover, hackers have also stolen millions of dollars from bank accounts. If someone enters their credit card credentials on a website, they copy the data and hack the bank account. Besides massive financial losses, it leaves people in a tough situation, thinking there’s no way out.
Recently, online scams and frauds have also come into the limelight. Scammers showcase products and services but end up delivering something different. Upon receiving complaints, they block the customer’s contact and continue with the fraud. Such rising fraud cases have raised questions about the credibility of the internet.
6. Access to Inappropriate Content
Despite having a host of information, the internet is getting used for the wrong reasons. Parents have been worried about access to adult content and how pornographic ads pop up out of nowhere. In addition, there are no restrictions on accessing such websites. Anyone can go online and seek web porn, affecting the overall well-being of individuals.
Many parents have installed software filters to block adult content, yet some malicious sites slip through. Because of these filters, educational and family-rated sites also get blocked at times. Besides this, some people access the dark web and become victims of illegal activities. Developers should develop better solutions to restrict access to inappropriate sites and make the internet a safe place for everyone.
We’re all aware of the various benefits that the internet brings to the table. But at the same time, we should acknowledge the drawbacks and pitfalls of this biggest invention. People should understand how the internet is getting misused by scammers and cybercriminals. Likewise, they should acknowledge the impact of social media usage. Awareness of this topic will encourage people to use the internet the right way and stay safe from scams.