What are the disadvantages of the Internet?
Although the Internet is one of man's greatest creations, it has many disadvantages, several of which are listed in the following sections.
Trolls, bullying, and stalkers
Anyone who has spent time on the Internet has encountered trolls or abusive people. With the anonymous nature of the Internet, it's easier for people to be mean because they feel they will not face the repercussions.
Another growing issue, especially with kids in school, is cyberbullying. Because it's easier to be anonymous on the Internet, a person may bully others who are also online.
With people sharing more information about themselves and their families on the Internet, it can be easier for stalkers to find personal information.
Pornographic and violent images
In our digital age, there's a nearly an infinite amount of content on the Internet. While there are amazing resources, such as Wikipedia, less desirable content also exists. Consequently, users can accidentally come across violent or pornographic images that they may not want to view.
Addiction, time-waster, and causes distractions
Surfing and playing games on the Internet can quickly become very addictive. Doing so can lead to spending a lot of frivolous time on the Internet instead of doing something productive. On this same note, the Internet can hamper workplace productivity as well.
See our computer addiction page for further information about and help with computer addiction.
Never being able to disconnect from work
The Internet is great for giving its users the ability to work from anywhere. However, you may be expected to be available to work at any time of the day, even if you had not previously agreed to be available.
For example, you may be at home and get a notification of an important work-related e-mail and end up working without getting paid.
Crime, identity theft, hacking, viruses, and cheating
With access to billions of computers, computer hackers and malicious users can hack accounts and steal personal information that could be used for identity theft. The Internet also connects all computers, so hackers can scan millions of computers and quickly identify what computers are vulnerable to attack.
Hidden places also exist on the Internet and the deep web for criminals to conduct business without as much fear of being caught. A global audience also gives criminals more ways to solicit their goods.
The Internet also enables students to cheat on their studies or find others on the Internet to do their homework.
Spam and advertising
It's great that the Internet allows access to a much wider audience than traditional advertising methods (e.g., newspaper, TV, and radio). However, because digital advertising can be sent on a massive scale, you might see more spam in your inbox than junk mail in real life.
Affects focus and patience
The sites we use on the Internet every day have an "instant gratification" effect. They also present an endless menu of things to think about and experience at any moment, on-demand. Getting information this way rewards fast-paced thinking that shifts focus quickly, which affects your interactions in general, making you more impatient and less focused on your activities. Try to balance this natural effect with time away from social media and focused on more productive real-life activities like exercise or cleaning.
Depression, loneliness, and social isolation
Social networking sites can also lead to depression as many people tend to compare their lives with others. For example, if your social network friends have vacation pictures, you may get the false impression that everyone but you is going on vacation.
The Internet and online games can be very addictive and time-consuming, and spending too much time with your virtual friends may take away from your real-life friends.
Health issues and obesity
As with watching TV, spending too much time on the computer, surfing the Internet, or playing games can also lead to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.
A computer also requires a lot of repetitive movement can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, moving your hand from your keyboard to a mouse and typing are all repetitive actions, which can cause injuries. Taking breaks, keeping the proper posture, and understanding computer ergonomics can all help delay or prevent these injuries.
Echo chambers, filter bubbles, and personalized content
The Internet has new information added every second, and it would be impossible for anyone to keep up-to-date with the latest news and information. So, companies have developed algorithms that help sort and give you information they feel you'd find most helpful or interesting. Unfortunately, because these algorithms show you personalized information, they create an artificial bubble that can be hard to escape.
These bubbles can also be amplified when participating in social networks. If your social circles of family and friends all share similar content from their bubbles, your social circle can become an echo chamber of everyone sharing the same thoughts.
While it's easier to find interesting information and news by existing in an online bubble, you're also not introduced to opposing views and new concepts. It's also believed by many experts that these bubbles make people more polarized because they only see news tailored to them that's often more sensationalized to help get more visitors.
In the past, a person would need to create a website to post information online. Because of the difficulty and cost involved, not many people posted information online. Today, with blogs and social network sites, it's possible for anyone with an Internet connection to post their thoughts online with little or no cost. Some people and even some governments take advantage of how easy it is to create sites that spread lies or other fake news.
Buying things you don't need
The Internet reduces the barriers for consumers to make purchases, so users may find themselves purchasing products without putting much thought into whether they should. Also, for some people, buying items on the Internet can become so addictive that it causes serious debt.