What is the role of the internet in society and how should youth use it for their own benefit?

The internet has to be one of the greatest inventions yet made by men. Before the internet, geographical location hindered our communication with people, learning and commerce. The internet is a global wide area network that connects computer or mobile systems across the world, meaning that now distance has ceased to exist in a manner of speaking. One does not necessarily have to be on site to trade, learn, socialize, advertise and research as it removes the geographical barriers.

It is quite possible to use the internet as both a producer and consumer, but for youth empowerment it’s important to note the many benefits that access to the internet can give young people. Its multifaceted nature means each individual makes the choice between using it to enhance and move life forward, or become lost in consumerism. Here we focus on the various aspects of the internet that make the internet a tremendous asset.

One of the many roles of the internet in society today is that of education. The concept of e-learning, which is learning conducted over the internet, has fast gained popularity. With over thousands of online courses, some even free, from all over the world, we are given a chance to enrich our minds. To learn so much more than what is offered in our regions. Flexibility and convenience, in terms of learning are a feature of e-learning that makes it wildly popular, especially in the face of a pandemic. If you are working full time, you can e-learn part time at your own time and pace, meaning you can work and advance academically at the same time as resources are available anywhere and anytime. It is very much possible to obtain certificates or take part in professional training or simply register for schools located in geographical areas too far from home. An advantage of e-learning is that it allows for lower costs while offering high level training. 

As the Internet removes the geographical barriers, one is given the chance to target global markets. In business, the internet allows for digital marketing, banking and business communication. The internet enables organisations, big or small, to easily connect with customers or clients. Advertising and marketing are not limited by how much paper you can print or your media buying power, neither are they restricted by your location, region or country anymore. Big markets could mean bigger profits. With the distance gone this means that we too can access international services and goods. Global markets and the internet itself helps to create better products and services due to the exposure and competitiveness brought on by it. 

The internet can also be used as an advertising tool. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can all be used for marketing. This role can be identified as e-commerce, when business activities are done over the internet. More than that, online shopping, online jobs, online marketing, online banking, mobile wallets are helping societies explore new heights using the internet. It’s increasing the living standards of society.

The internet is like a big village. It aids social interaction, helps build social relationships around the world. Life can be shared and so can business values too. Its role is to help maintain and develop relationships. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are some of the social media platforms that artists, designers, programmers, students, potential business partners and individuals acquire knowledge from about human capacities and creativity. 

The internet provides individuals with tools to create content. Having the skills to critically understand, analyze and create content adds value to yourself and others. In doing so, you form an identity through self-expression, learning and talking. As the internet is a big village and people share interests, one can use this to study trends. Studying trends helps you recognize the needs and wants of individuals. 

Another role of the internet is providing us with a wealth of information, available at the click of a button. This information can be used for research, raising awareness and improving one’s own knowledge of the world. The information given is from different perspectives and points of view. You want to start a business? You can look up how to successfully start a business. You are wondering why the sales have decreased? Possible reasons can be found on the net. What are the consumer laws that protect me? You can also look those up. It is a quick  research tool that is at anyone’s disposal. It does not only provide research but daily news.

However, it’s crucial to verify the source because some individuals and publications spread fake news, which in some cases can be lethally harmful, especially when it comes to medical advice and political news. In addition, we should be extremely cautious as cyber-crimes are on the rise. We are vulnerable to being hacked and should avoid sharing personal information or details on the internet. Always practice precaution and try to manage your time on the internet as too much time spent on the internet could negatively impact your mental health.

What are the other positive and negative effects of the internet? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Share in the comments below:

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