Beware the Internet and cell phone

Dear Editor,

I think I can safely say with a great amount of probability that anything addictive is bad. Even things considered good such as food and sex can have grave consequences. My thoughts here are focused mainly on the concomitant hazards of technology and the Internet. I think that it is all about discipline and as the saying goes, “everything in moderation.” Yet when it comes to the advent of the cell phone and the Internet, we have seen increasingly serious consequences of overuse and misuse. People are now spending hours daily using these phones or other mobile devices. It has been said by one of the Facebook executives that Facebook was created with the intention of it being addictive. It was thought to increase socialization which paradoxically has not occurred. One may argue that it has increased socialization because of its feature of immediate access to people within one’s inner circle and further afield. They are accessed and established as “Friends.” However, many of these people cannot be deemed to be friends as friends, are people one would see regularly, visit or be visited by, or do things with together. Many people will confirm that the “Friends” they gather via Facebook do not fall into any of those categories as they hardly see each other and in some cases they never even meet each other.

Many people can be seen with their heads buried in their phone both at home and in public places. This regularly results in accidents. Even many drivers, motor cyclists or bicyclists can be seen talking or texting while moving their machines, and this has resulted in fatalities. There is also a warning from health experts that one should desist from being too near to one’s phone for extended periods and not to carry them in one’s pocket or underwear. Also, the time consumed by lengthy and frequent periods on one’s phone, computer or fairly new methods of communication means less time to pursue and complete more productive activities.

I am not saying that the Internet cannot be a useful tool or encyclopaedia. On the contrary. However, one has to know that all the information available there is not true. One has to look for those with certain endings like .edu or .gov to know that the information would be reliable. The Internet can actually make people’s lives easier and more productive if used wisely. It saves the expense of purchasing books on a wide range of topics, the storage and preservation of those books and the time that would be spent to seek and purchase them. However, mankind has abused cell phones, computers and mobile devices, just as some of us have abused and continue to abuse our environment and each other.

Another area of technology has provided us with a wide assortment of games that we can play on our computers and mobile devices. These also manifest into addictive use. Even adults are drawn into this pastime.

The Internet has morphed into a device used to recruit members of extreme groups such as ISIS and gives easy access to pornography. Hence, parents, teachers and mentors now have an additional task of monitoring their children’s or other young people’s activities on the Internet. Paedophiles are able to lure children into their trap via webcams and communication via the Internet.

Many people have become intimately involved with strangers they have met online and the results in many cases have been serious. Many of these liaisons online have been perpetrated by people assuming false or stolen identities resulting in harm to the true holder of that identity. Others have been persuaded to send huge amounts of money to the fraudster. Lives have been permanently damaged. Villains have used personal information such as a bank account, credit card or social security numbers to withdraw money from people’s bank accounts, in some cases emptying those accounts. Hacksters exist and they can obtain all types of personal information via the Internet that we would always want to remain private.

We need to try to build on or preserve what we have been naturally blessed with, and to do the same with those profound and prolific creations of our fellow humans.

Yours faithfully,

Conrad Barrow

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