According to the Internet World Stats website, 76.3 per cent of the U.S. population were Internet users in 2009. The Internet has changed the way companies do business and the way people interact with each other. Although much of this change has been positive, using the Internet also has disadvantages.
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Advantage: Wealth of Resources
Before the Internet, people often had to search through print books, magazines, periodicals and other references to retrieve a small nugget of information. On the Internet, information abounds. Although not all of it is reliable, you can refine your search for information by only searching trusted websites or the official websites of universities or government agencies.
Disadvantage: Shortened Attention Span
In a 2010 article for "Wired" magazine, Nicholas Carr refers to the abundance of information on the Internet as "many information faucets, all going full blast." The Internet promotes the habit of multitasking, switching from one website or computer application to another, which a 2009 Stanford University study suggests may be detrimental to people's attention span.
The Internet allows people to do their banking, shopping and socialising in the comfort of their own homes. Instead of standing in long lines to purchase popular items, you can buy them online and have them delivered to you. E-mail and social networking sites allow you to keep in touch with friends and family members you might not have maintained contact with when your only options were the telephone and letters sent by post.
Disadvantage: Frauds and Scams
The disadvantage of all that convenience is that you don't always know who is on the other end of the Internet connection. The list of potential scams on the Internet is long. The FBI's website warns people, for example, not to give their credit card information out online unless you are using a secure site. Some phoney business websites scam people into purchasing items that do not exist or get the unsuspecting to "invest" in fake business opportunities. Social networking sites allow people to impersonate others, gain the trust of unsuspecting users and then defraud them of money.
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