The past several decades have brought about tremendous changes in the lives of American families, some good and some bad. Most of these changes have been precipitated by the introduction of the Internet into our lives. We are more productive, more in touch with the world around us, and more knowledgeable than ever. At the same time, we are drifting away from those who are closest to us. In the 50s, families had a nice dinner together and then retired to the living room to watch some television together. Now, meals are usually eaten on the fly with each family member retreating to a different room to surf the Web or to text friends. You can even learn how to become a nurse practitioner online. What exactly has contributed to these changes?
The first major feature of the Internet to change our lives was email. Instead of checking the mailbox for news every day, people now check their email multiple times daily. While this has made it easier to keep in touch with friends and family members who are far away, it has also resulted in the loss of personal communication skills such as the art of letter writing.
Webcams and Chat
The ability to conduct real-time communication with people over the Internet was enthusiastically welcomed by many, especially with the invention of webcams. Again, this is a double-edged sword. While it allows people to see and talk to one another from anywhere, it has served to pull people living in the same house even further apart. It has also created unprecedented dangers for children, as adult predators have an even easier way to locate and lure victims.
In past decades, people had to leave home to do their shopping. Now, with the Internet, we can buy anything we want at any time. The convenience of online shopping is unparalleled and has resulted in consumers being able to get the best prices on almost anything. On the downside, consumer debt is at higher levels than ever before because many people use Internet shopping as a hobby or addiction, often buying things they don’t need and can’t afford.
Education and Information
The Internet has put more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before. It has also provided a way for people to take classes and earn complete college degrees online. Although it is difficult to find a downside to this, there is one. The downside is the fact that the Internet has as much useless and inaccurate information as reliable information. If a user is not careful, gaining information from the Internet can be disastrous.
The fact that the Internet has changed American families is beyond debate. Whether there are more good or bad changes is a subject of much debate, however, and will continue to be for the rest of civilization. The Internet is here to stay and is going to continue to influence and change our lives in ways that won’t always be for the best. All we can do is adapt to these changes and use this marvelous technology in ways that will enrich our lives instead of control them.
Chasie G. is a writer on all things tech.