Internet Use: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
It’s Saturday morning and I have a blank slate. I’m sipping some coffee. MTV’s show Ridiculousness is on in the background. I work best with background noise, although I have to admit I hate the show. I discuss with my husband some thoughts for my next article. Brian looks at me and says a few sentences, but then his phone vibrates. He looks down, looks back at me, loses his train of thought, and our conversation immediately ends. And at this moment, I have found the theme for my next article: Internet Obsession.
I know my husband is not the only guilty person of being best friends with his cell phone. I admit I cannot go anywhere without my phone. My phone is almost a lifeline. I use it for directions, social media, searching the internet, searching WebMD symptoms finder to see what possible illnesses I have because it CANNOT just be a cold! Wait, did I say that out loud? Okay, so maybe I am a hypochondriac, but that’t not the point. Adults my age are called millenials. As a millenial, I grew up with the internet for most of my life; at least as far back as I can remember. I feel lucky in that way because I never had to learn how to use a computer or the internet, as my parents had to do. I watch my parents try to print wirelessly, connect to the internet, or try to do research and it takes them an hour to do these things. Whereas anything that I need on the internet or the computer I can find in .5 seconds. Growing up with the internet has allowed me to learn technology; to be a part of “millenial society” if you will. My peers use social media, apps, imovie, etc. In order to fit growing up, I too, used these internet and computer softwares to communicate not just verbally with my peers, but communicate who I was as a person. I was able to create a MySpace (cannot believe I am admitting I had one), and a Facebook, and blogs, and tell the internet world who I was and what I was about. Being so familiar with internet use, research, and learning new apps everyday, I have found it to be quite easy to learn new things on a computer. This benefits me and makes me very appealing to recruiters and interviewers who ask me, “how comfortable are you writing formulas in excel? Describe the tools you use most often in Photoshop…” Millenials have the answers to these interview questions, and that makes them a very appealing and sought out generation for new jobs and growing industries.
I came across some research from Pew’s Research Center that said in 2013, 95% of American Millenials had a mobile device compared to 84% of baby boomers. The trend continues with 70% of Millenials owning a laptop, compared to 43% of baby boomers. Millenials are obsessed with the internet and use all devices to get there. Today, I use the internet 99% of the time via my mobile device. When I was a kid, I had to wait to come home and use the internet via a desktop computer. But now, I can use my phone for ANYTHING, at ANYTIME. To bring this full circle, using your phone for ANYTHING at ANYTIME is bad. Especially when I am trying to talk to my husband about something important to me and all he can think about is his vibrating phone and the notification from his ESPN app letting him know that, in fact, Peyton Manning DID NOT use performance enhancing drugs.
As I mentioned how great the internet is and how great it has been to grow up using the internet, we all know there are negatives to internet use. Example one: my husband. Okay, I’ll stop using him as an example. (I really just like to say “my husband” because I recently got married. But enough about me!) I see the negative effects of internet use when I babysit and the kids end up staring at an iPad for 3 hours straight. In college I babysat a three year old and she remembered the iPad password, she knew exactly where the apps were that she wanted to use, she knew exactly where to find YouTube, she knew how to drag the fast-forward dot to the exact moment in High School Musical where Troy and Gabriella sing their final song together. That was scary to witness. It’s scary to think that a three year old is so comfortable with the internet. It’s scary to think about young kids getting a cell phone for the first time; having access to apps and chat rooms and weird things that you don’t even want to think about. I’m sure parents do a great job of protecting their kids and checking in on what they do on their phones. But kids aren’t stupid. There’s apps that kids can use that look like a calculator, but really it’s an app that requires a secret password, and that secret app holds photos and conversations that a teenager might not want their parents to see. Technology is scary.
Now that I scared you, and if you’re a parent, you’re probably checking your child’s phone for a calculator app, I think we need to look at the big picture. With anything in life, we can’t live in fear. We shouldn’t live in fear of the internet and all the scary things that can happen. It’s important to be cautious and aware, but I think it’s also important to welcome everything that the internet offers. Technology is important to society, and it’s growing, and our only choice is to grow with it. There’s benefits to technology, there’s negative aspects to technology, we just have to find a happy medium.