Has the Internet Made Society Better?

The internet is a revolutionary technological advancement that has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. It has transformed the way we communicate, access information, and conduct business. However, the question of whether the internet has made society better remains a contentious issue. While some argue that the internet has had a positive impact on society, others maintain that its influence has been predominantly negative. In this essay, I will argue that the internet has made society better.

Firstly, the internet has greatly improved communication and connectivity. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made it easier to connect with people all over the world. The ability to communicate with friends and family who are geographically distant has strengthened relationships and reduced feelings of isolation. Additionally, the internet has made it easier for individuals to form new connections and find people who share similar interests. This has led to the development of new communities and the growth of online support groups.

Secondly, the internet has transformed education and learning. The internet has made information more accessible than ever before. Students can now access textbooks, research papers, and academic journals online. This has reduced the cost of education and made it easier for individuals from all backgrounds to access information. Moreover, the internet has opened up new opportunities for distance learning, which has enabled people to acquire new skills and knowledge from the comfort of their own homes. The internet has also made it possible for people to take part in online courses and access resources from some of the world's leading universities.

Thirdly, the internet has revolutionized commerce and business. The rise of e-commerce has made it possible for businesses of all sizes to reach a wider audience and sell products globally. The internet has made it easier for individuals to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs. Moreover, the internet has made it possible for individuals to work remotely, which has led to increased flexibility and work-life balance. The internet has also created new job opportunities, particularly in fields like digital marketing and e-commerce.

Fourthly, the internet has facilitated political activism and social change. Social media platforms have given a voice to people who were previously unheard. They have provided a platform for political activism, allowing individuals to mobilize and organize for social change. The internet has also made it easier for people to access information about political events and social issues. This has increased awareness and engagement among the public, leading to a more informed and politically active citizenry.

However, it is important to acknowledge that the internet has also had negative effects on society. The spread of misinformation and fake news has led to increased polarization and the erosion of trust in institutions. Moreover, the internet has created new forms of addiction and dependence, particularly among young people. Social media platforms have also been criticized for facilitating cyberbullying and contributing to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

In conclusion, while the internet has had negative effects on society, its overall impact has been positive. The internet has improved communication and connectivity, transformed education and learning, revolutionized commerce and business, and facilitated political activism and social change. The internet has made the world a more connected and accessible place, and it has opened up new opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. Therefore, it is fair to say that the internet has made society better.

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The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective

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The Internet is the decisive technology of the Information Age, and with the explosion of wireless communication in the early twenty-first century, we can say that humankind is now almost entirely connected, albeit with great levels of inequality in bandwidth, efficiency, and price.

People, companies, and institutions feel the depth of this technological change, but the speed and scope of the transformation has triggered all manner of utopian and dystopian perceptions that, when examined closely through methodologically rigorous empirical research, turn out not to be accurate. For instance, media often report that intense use of the Internet increases the risk of isolation, alienation, and withdrawal from society, but available evidence shows that the Internet neither isolates people nor reduces their sociability; it actually increases sociability, civic engagement, and the intensity of family and friendship relationships, in all cultures.

Our current “network society” is a product of the digital revolution and some major sociocultural changes. One of these is the rise of the “Me-centered society,” marked by an increased focus on individual growth and a decline in community understood in terms of space, work, family, and ascription in general. But individuation does not mean isolation, or the end of community. Instead, social relationships are being reconstructed on the basis of individual interests, values, and projects. Community is formed through individuals’ quests for like-minded people in a process that combines online interaction with offline interaction, cyberspace, and the local space.

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Globally, time spent on social networking sites surpassed time spent on e-mail in November 2007, and the number of social networking users surpassed the number of e-mail users in July 2009. Today, social networking sites are the preferred platforms for all kinds of activities, both business and personal, and sociability has dramatically increased — but it is a different kind of sociability. Most Facebook users visit the site daily, and they connect on multiple dimensions, but only on the dimensions they choose. The virtual life is becoming more social than the physical life, but it is less a virtual reality than a real virtuality, facilitating real-life work and urban living.

internet made society better essay

Because people are increasingly at ease in the Web’s multidimensionality, marketers, government, and civil society are migrating massively to the networks people construct by themselves and for themselves. At root, social-networking entrepreneurs are really selling spaces in which people can freely and autonomously construct their lives. Sites that attempt to impede free communication are soon abandoned by many users in favor of friendlier and less restricted spaces.

Perhaps the most telling expression of this new freedom is the Internet’s transformation of sociopolitical practices. Messages no longer flow solely from the few to the many, with little interactivity. Now, messages also flow from the many to the many, multimodally and interactively. By disintermediating government and corporate control of communication, horizontal communication networks have created a new landscape of social and political change.

Networked social movements have been particularly active since 2010, notably in the Arab revolutions against dictatorships and the protests against the management of the financial crisis. Online and particularly wireless communication has helped social movements pose more of a challenge to state power.

The Internet and the Web constitute the technological infrastructure of the global network society, and the understanding of their logic is a key field of research. It is only scholarly research that will enable us to cut through the myths surrounding this digital communication technology that is already a second skin for young people, yet continues to feed the fears and the fantasies of those who are still in charge of a society that they barely understand.

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The Internet has turned our existence upside down. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication. In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand when it opened in the morning and buy a local edition reporting what had happened the previous day. But today a click or two is enough to read your local paper and any news source from anywhere in the world, updated up to the minute.

The Internet itself has been transformed. In its early days—which from a historical perspective are still relatively recent—it was a static network designed to shuttle a small freight of bytes or a short message between two terminals; it was a repository of information where content was published and maintained only by expert coders. Today, however, immense quantities of information are uploaded and downloaded over this electronic leviathan, and the content is very much our own, for now we are all commentators, publishers, and creators.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Internet widened in scope to encompass the IT capabilities of universities and research centers, and, later on, public entities, institutions, and private enterprises from around the world. The Internet underwent immense growth; it was no longer a state-controlled project, but the largest computer network in the world, comprising over 50,000 sub-networks, 4 million systems, and 70 million users.

The emergence of  web 2.0  in the first decade of the twenty-first century was itself a revolution in the short history of the Internet, fostering the rise of social media and other interactive, crowd-based communication tools.

The Internet was no longer concerned with information exchange alone: it was a sophisticated multidisciplinary tool enabling individuals to create content, communicate with one another, and even escape reality. Today, we can send data from one end of the world to the other in a matter of seconds, make online presentations, live in parallel “game worlds,” and use pictures, video, sound, and text to share our real lives, our genuine identity. Personal stories go public; local issues become global.

The rise of the Internet has sparked a debate about how online communication affects social relationships. The Internet frees us from geographic fetters and brings us together in topic-based communities that are not tied down to any specific place. Ours is a networked, globalized society connected by new technologies. The Internet is the tool we use to interact with one another, and accordingly poses new challenges to privacy and security.

Information technologies have wrought fundamental change throughout society, driving it forward from the industrial age to the networked era. In our world, global information networks are vital infrastructure—but in what ways has this changed human relations? The Internet has changed business, education, government, healthcare, and even the ways in which we interact with our loved ones—it has become one of the key drivers of social evolution.

The changes in social communication are of particular significance. Although analogue tools still have their place in some sectors, new technologies are continuing to gain ground every day, transforming our communication practices and possibilities—particularly among younger people. The Internet has removed all communication barriers. Online, the conventional constraints of space and time disappear and there is a dizzyingly wide range of communicative possibilities. The impact of social media applications has triggered discussion of the “new communication democracy.”

The development of the Internet today is being shaped predominantly by instant, mobile communications. The mobile Internet is a fresh revolution. Comprehensive Internet connectivity via smartphones and tablets is leading to an increasingly mobile reality: we are not tied to any single specific device, and everything is in the cloud.

People no longer spend hours gazing at a computer screen after work or class; instead, they use their mobile devices to stay online everywhere, all the time.

Anyone failing to keep abreast of this radical change is losing out on an opportunity.

Communication Opportunities Created by the Internet

The Internet has become embedded in every aspect of our day-to-day lives, changing the way we interact with others. This insight struck me when I started out in the world of social media. I created my first social network in 2005, when I was finishing college in the United States—it had a political theme. I could already see that social media were on the verge of changing our way of communicating, helping us to share information by opening up a new channel that cuts across conventional ones.

That first attempt did not work out, but I learned from the experience.I get the feeling that in many countries failure is punished too harshly—but the fact is, the only surefire way of avoiding failure is to do nothing at all. I firmly believe that mistakes help you improve; getting it wrong teaches you how to get it right. Creativity, hard work, and a positive attitude will let you achieve any goal.

In 2006, after I moved to Spain, I created Tuenti. Tuenti (which, contrary to widespread belief, has nothing to do with the number 20; it is short for “tu entidad,” the Spanish for “your entity”) is a social communication platform for genuine friends. From the outset, the idea was to keep it simple, relevant, and private. That’s the key to its success.

I think the real value of social media is that you can stay in touch from moment to moment with the people who really matter to you. Social media let you share experiences and information; they get people and ideas in touch instantly, without frontiers. Camaraderie, friendship, and solidarity—social phenomena that have been around for as long as humanity itself—have been freed from the conventional restrictions of space and time and can now thrive in a rich variety of ways.

Out of all the plethora of communication opportunities that the Internet has opened up, I would highlight the emergence of social media and the way they have intricately melded into our daily lives. Social media have changed our personal space, altering the way we interact with our loved ones, our friends, and our sexual partners; they have forced us to rethink even basic daily processes like studying and shopping; they have affected the economy by nurturing the business startup culture and electronic commerce; they have even given us new ways to form broad-based political movements.

The Internet and Education

The Internet has clearly impacted all levels of education by providing unbounded possibilities for learning. I believe the future of education is a networked future. People can use the Internet to create and share knowledge and develop new ways of teaching and learning that captivate and stimulate students’ imagination at any time, anywhere, using any device. By connecting and empowering students and educators, we can speed up economic growth and enhance the well-being of society throughout the world. We should work together, over a network, to build the global learning society.

The network of networks is an inexhaustible source of information. What’s more, the Internet has enabled users to move away from their former passive role as mere recipients of messages conveyed by conventional media to an active role, choosing what information to receive, how, and when. The information recipient even decides whether or not they want to stay informed.

We have moved on from scattergun mass communication to a pattern where the user proactively selects the information they need.

Students can work interactively with one another, unrestricted by physical or time constraints. Today, you can use the Internet to access libraries, encyclopedias, art galleries, news archives, and other information sources from anywhere in the world: I believe this is a key advantage in the education field. The web is a formidable resource for enhancing the process of building knowledge.

I also believe the Internet is a wonderful tool for learning and practicing other languages—this continues to be a critical issue in many countries, including Spain, and, in a globalized world, calls for special efforts to improve.

The Internet, in addition to its communicative purposes, has become a vital tool for exchanging knowledge and education; it is not just an information source, or a locus where results can be published, it is also a channel for cooperating with other people and groups who are working on related research topics.

The Internet and Privacy and Security

Another key issue surrounding Internet use is privacy. Internet users are becoming more sensitive to the insight that privacy is a must-have in our lives.

Privacy has risen near the top of the agenda in step with an increasing awareness of the implications of using social media. Much of the time, people started to use social media with no real idea of the dangers, and have wised up only through trial and error—sheer accident, snafus, and mistakes. Lately, inappropriate use of social media seems to hit the headlines every day. Celebrities posting inappropriate comments to their profiles, private pictures and tapes leaked to the Internet at large, companies displaying arrogance toward users, and even criminal activities involving private-data trafficking or social media exploitation.

All this shows that—contrary to what many people seem to have assumed—online security and privacy are critical, and, I believe, will become even more important going forward. And, although every user needs privacy, the issue is particularly sensitive for minors—despite attempts to raise their awareness, children still behave recklessly online.

I have always been highly concerned about privacy. On Tuenti, the default privacy setting on every user account is the highest available level of data protection. Only people the user has accepted as a “friend” can access their personal details, see their telephone number, or download their pictures. This means that, by default, user information is not accessible to third parties. In addition, users are supported by procedures for reporting abuse. Any user can report a profile or photograph that is abusive, inappropriate, or violates the terms of use: action is taken immediately. Security and privacy queries are resolved within 24 hours.

We need to be aware that different Internet platforms provide widely different privacy experiences. Some of them are entirely open and public; no steps whatsoever are taken to protect personal information, and all profiles are indexable by Internet search engines.

On the other hand, I think the debate about whether social media use should be subject to an age requirement is somewhat pointless, given that most globally active platforms operate without age restrictions. The European regulatory framework is quite different from the United States and Asian codes. Companies based in Europe are bound by rigorous policies on privacy and underage use of social media. This can become a competitive drawback when the ground rules do not apply equally to all players—our American and Japanese competitors, for instance, are not required to place any kind of age constraint on access.

Outside the scope of what the industry or regulators can do, it is vital that users themselves look after the privacy of their data. I believe the information is the user’s property, so the user is the only party entitled to control the collection, use, and disclosure of any information about him or herself. Some social networks seem to have forgotten this fact—they sell data, make it impossible to delete an account, or make it complex and difficult to manage one’s privacy settings. Everything should be a lot simpler and more transparent.

Social networks should continue to devote intense efforts to developing self-regulation mechanisms and guidelines for this new environment of online coexistence to ensure that user information is safe: the Internet should be a space for freedom, but also for trust. The main way of ensuring that social media are used appropriately is awareness. But awareness and user education will be of little use unless it becomes an absolute requirement that the privacy of the individual is treated as a universal value.

The Internet and Culture

As in the sphere of education, the development of information and communication technologies and the wide-ranging effects of globalization are changing what we are, and the meaning of cultural identity. Ours is a complex world in which cultural flows across borders are always on the rise. The concepts of space, time, and distance are losing their conventional meanings. Cultural globalization is here, and a global movement of cultural processes and initiatives is underway.

Again, in the cultural arena, vast fields of opportunity open up thanks to online tools. The possibilities are multiplied for disseminating a proposal, an item of knowledge, or a work of art. Against those doomsayers who warn that the Internet is harming culture, I am radically optimistic. The Internet is bringing culture closer to more people, making it more easily and quickly accessible; it is also nurturing the rise of new forms of expression for art and the spread of knowledge. Some would say, in fact, that the Internet is not just a technology, but a cultural artifact in its own right.

In addition to its impact on culture itself, the Internet is enormously beneficial for innovation, which brings progress in all fields of endeavor—the creation of new goods, services, and ideas, the advance of knowledge and society, and increasing well-being.

The Internet and Personal Relationships

The Internet has also changed the way we interact with our family, friends, and life partners. Now everyone is connected to everyone else in a simpler, more accessible, and more immediate way; we can conduct part of our personal relationships using our laptops, smart phones, and tablets.

The benefits of always-online immediate availability are highly significant. I would find a long-distance relationship with my life partner or my family unthinkable without the communication tools that the network of networks provides me with. I’m living in Madrid, but I can stay close to my brother in California. For me, that is the key plus of the Internet: keeping in touch with the people who really matter to me.

As we have seen, the Internet revolution is not just technological; it also operates at a personal level, and throughout the structure of society. The Internet makes it possible for an unlimited number of people to communicate with one another freely and easily, in an unrestricted way.

Just a century ago, this was unimaginable. An increasing number of couples come together, stay together, or break up with the aid—or even as a consequence—of social communication tools. There are even apps and social networks out there that are purposely designed to help people get together for sex.

Of course, when compared to face-to-face communication, online communication is severely limited in the sense impressions it can convey (an estimated 60 to 70 percent of human communication takes place nonverbally), which can lead to misunderstandings and embarrassing situations—no doubt quite a few relationships have floundered as a result. I think the key is to be genuine, honest, and real at all times, using all the social media tools and their many advantages. Let’s just remember that a liar and a cheat online is a liar and a cheat offline too.

The Internet and Social and Political Activism

Even before the emergence of social media, pioneering experiments took place in the political sphere—like  Essembly , a project I was involved in. We started to create a politically themed platform to encourage debate and provide a home for social and political causes; but the social networks that have later nurtured activism in a new way were not as yet in existence.

Research has shown that young people who voice their political opinions on the Internet are more inclined to take part in public affairs. The better informed a citizen is, the more likely they will step into the polling booth, and the better they will express their political liberties. The Internet has proved to be a decisive communication tool in the latest election campaigns. It is thanks to the Internet that causes in the social, welfare, ideological, and political arenas have been spoken up for and have won the support of other citizens sharing those values—in many cases, with a real impact on government decision making.

The Internet and Consumer Trends

New technologies increase the speed of information transfer, and this opens up the possibility of “bespoke” shopping. The Internet offers an immense wealth of possibilities for buying content, news, and leisure products, and all sorts of advantages arise from e-commerce, which has become a major distribution channel for goods and services. You can book airline tickets, get a T-shirt from Australia, or buy food at an online grocery store. New applications support secure business transactions and create new commercial opportunities.

In this setting, it is the consumer who gains the upper hand, and the conventional rules and methods of distribution and marketing break down. Consumers’ access to information multiplies, and their reviews of their experience with various products and services take center stage. Access to product comparisons and rankings, user reviews and comments, and recommendations from bloggers with large followings have shaped a new scenario for consumer behavior, retail trade, and the economy in general.

The Internet and the Economy

The Internet is one of the key factors driving today’s economy. No one can afford to be left behind. Even in a tough macroeconomic framework, the Internet can foster growth, coupled with enhanced productivity and competitiveness.

The Internet provides opportunities for strengthening the economy: How should we tackle them? While Europe—and Spain specifically—are making efforts to make the best possible use of the Internet, there are areas in which their approach needs to improve. Europe faces a major challenge, and risks serious failure if it lets the United States run ahead on its own. The European Commission, in its “Startup Manifesto,” suggests that the Old World be more entrepreneur-friendly—the proposal is backed by companies like Spotify and Tuenti. Europe lacks some of the necessary know-how. We need to improve in financial services and in data privacy, moving past the obsolete regulatory framework we now have and making a bid to achieve a well-connected continent with a single market for 4G mobile connections. We need to make it easier to hire talent outside each given country.

The use of e-commerce should be encouraged among small and medium-sized enterprises so that growth opportunities can be exploited more intensely. Following the global trend of the Internet, companies should internalize their online business. And much more emphasis should be placed on new technologies training in the academic and business spheres.

Modern life is global, and Spain is competing against every other country in the world. I do not believe in defeatism or victim culture. Optimism should not translate into callousness, but I sincerely believe that if you think creatively, if you find a different angle, if you innovate with a positive attitude and without fear of failure, then you can change things for the better. Spain needs to seize the moment to reinvent itself, grasping the opportunities offered up by the online world. We need to act, take decisions, avoid “paralysis through analysis.” I sometimes feel we are too inclined to navel-gazing: Spain shuts itself off, fascinated with its own contradictions and local issues, and loses its sense of perspective. Spain should open up to the outside, use the crisis as an opportunity to do things differently, in a new way—creating value, underlining its strengths, aspiring to be something more.

In the United States, for instance, diving headfirst into a personal Internet-related startup is regarded as perfectly normal. I’m glad to see that this entrepreneurial spirit is beginning to take hold here as well. I believe in working hard, showing perseverance, keeping your goals in view, surrounding yourself with talent, and taking risks. No risk, no success. We live in an increasingly globalized world: of course you can have a Spain-based Internet startup, there are no frontiers.

We need to take risks and keep one step ahead of the future. It is precisely the most disruptive innovations that require radical changes in approach and product, which might not even find a market yet ready for them—these are the areas providing real opportunities to continue being relevant, to move forward and “earn” the future, creating value and maintaining leadership. It is the disruptive changes that enable a business, product, or service to revolutionize the market—and, particularly in the technology sector, such changes are a necessity.

The Future of Social Communications, Innovation, Mobile Technologies, and Total Connectivity in Our Lives

The future of social communications will be shaped by an  always-online  culture.  Always online  is already here and will set the trend going forward. Total connectivity, the Internet you can take with you wherever you go, is growing unstoppably. There is no turning back for global digitalization.

Innovation is the driving force of growth and progress, so we need to shake up entrenched processes, products, services, and industries, so that all of us together—including established businesses, reacting to their emerging competitors—can move forward together.

Innovation is shaping and will continue to shape the future of social communications. It is already a reality that Internet connections are increasingly mobile. A survey we conducted in early 2013 in partnership with Ipsos found that 94 percent of Tuenti users aged 16 to 35 owned cell phones, 84 percent of users connected to the Internet using their phones, and 47 percent had mobile data subscriptions for connecting to the Internet. A total of 74 percent of users reported connecting to the Internet from their phone on a daily basis, while 84 percent did so at least weekly. Only 13 percent did not use their phones to connect to the Internet, and that percentage is decreasing every day.

Mobile Internet use alters the pattern of device usage; the hitherto familiar ways of accessing the Internet are changing too. The smartphone activities taking up the most time (over three hours a day) include instant messaging (38%), social media use (35%), listening to music (24%), and web browsing (20%). The activities taking up the least time (under five minutes a day) are: SMS texting (51%), watching movies (43%), reading and writing e-mail (38%), and talking on the phone (32%). Things are still changing.

Smartphones are gaining ground in everyday life. Many of the purposes formerly served by other items now involve using our smartphones. Some 75 percent of young people reported having replaced their MP3 player with their phone, 74 percent use their phone as an alarm clock, 70 percent use it as their camera, and 67 percent use it as their watch.

We have been observing these shifts for a while, which is why we decided to reinvent ourselves by placing smartphones at the heart of our strategy. I want to use this example as a showcase of what is happening in the world of social communication and the Internet in general: mobile connectivity is bringing about a new revolution. Tuenti is no longer just a social network, and social media as a whole are becoming more than just websites. The new Tuenti provides native mobile apps for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone, as well as the Firefox OS app and the mobile version of the website, m.tuenti.com. Tuenti is now a cross-platform service that lets users connect with their friends and contacts from wherever they may be, using their device of choice. A user with a laptop can IM in real time with a user with a smartphone, and switch from one device to another without losing the thread of the conversation. The conversations are in the cloud, so data and contacts are preserved independently of the devices being used. This means the experience has to be made uniform across platforms, which sometimes involves paring down functionalities, given the processing and screen size limitations of mobile devices. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on are all evolving to become increasingly cross-platform experiences. But Tuenti is the first social network that has also developed its own Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)—the company is an Internet service provider over the mobile network. Tuenti is an MVNO with a social media angle, and this may be the future path of telecommunications.

Social media are evolving to become something more, and innovation must be their hallmark if they are to continue being relevant. Tuenti now embraces both social communications and telecom services provision, offering value added by letting you use the mobile app free of charge and without using up your data traffic allowance, even if you have no credit on your prepaid card—this is wholly revolutionary in the telecom sector. The convergence of social media with more traditional sectors is already bringing about a new context for innovation, a new arena for the development and growth of the Internet.

Just about everything in the world of the Internet still lies ahead of us, and mobile communications as we know them must be reinvented by making them more digital. The future will be shaped by innovation converging with the impact of mobility. This applies not just to social media but to the Internet in general, particularly in the social communications field. I feel that many people do not understand what we are doing and have no idea of the potential development of companies like ours at the global level. Right now, there may be somebody out there, in some corner of the world, developing the tool that will turn the Internet upside down all over again. The tool that will alter our day-to-day life once more. Creating more opportunities, providing new benefits to individuals, bringing more individual and collective well-being. Just ten years ago, social media did not exist; in the next ten years, something else radically new will emerge. There are many areas in which products, processes, and services can be improved or created afresh. The future is brimming with opportunities, and the future of the Internet has only just begun.

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  • Has the Internet Improved Society? Exploring an Argumentative Essay

Has the Internet Improved Society? Exploring an Argumentative Essay

In today's digital age, the internet has transformed the way we live, work, and learn. However, the impact of this technological revolution on society is a subject of ongoing debate. In this argumentative essay , we will explore the question: Has the internet made society better ? From improved access to information and communication to the rise of online education and remote work opportunities, the internet has undoubtedly brought about significant advancements. On the other hand, concerns about privacy, misinformation, and digital divide continue to challenge the notion of a better society. Join us as we delve into the complexities of this topic and critically examine the effects of the internet on our world .

Impact of Online Resources on Mathematics Learning

Collaboration and communication in virtual math communities, the role of online assessment tools in mathematics education, overcoming barriers to access to quality math education, fostering a growth mindset through online learning platforms, ethical considerations and digital literacy in online mathematics education, how has the internet impacted the way mathematics is taught in schools, what are the benefits of using online resources for learning mathematics, can the internet help bridge the achievement gap in mathematics education, are there any drawbacks to relying heavily on technology for teaching mathematics, how does the accessibility of online math tools affect student engagement and understanding.

Online resources have revolutionized the way students learn and practice mathematics. Platforms such as Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha provide interactive lessons, step-by-step solutions, and practice problems that cater to individual student needs. This accessibility has greatly enhanced students' understanding of mathematical concepts and their ability to apply them in real-world scenarios.

The internet has facilitated collaboration among students and educators through virtual math communities and forums. Students can now connect with peers from around the world to discuss mathematical problems, share insights, and seek help when needed. This collaborative approach not only fosters a sense of community but also promotes a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts through diverse perspectives.

Online assessment tools have streamlined the process of evaluating students' mathematical proficiency. Adaptive quizzes and tests can provide instant feedback to students, allowing them to identify areas of improvement and track their progress over time. Furthermore, these tools enable educators to tailor their teaching strategies to address specific learning gaps and challenges faced by students.

The internet has played a crucial role in breaking down barriers to access quality math education. Students in remote areas or underserved communities now have the opportunity to access high-quality math resources and instruction online. This democratization of education has helped bridge the gap in educational opportunities and empower students from diverse backgrounds to excel in mathematics.

Online learning platforms promote a growth mindset by providing students with a personalized learning experience. With the abundance of resources available online, students are encouraged to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and view mistakes as opportunities for growth. This shift in mindset not only enhances students' mathematical skills but also nurtures their overall approach to learning and problem-solving.

As online education continues to proliferate, it is essential to address ethical considerations and promote digital literacy in mathematics education. Educators must teach students how to navigate online resources responsibly, critically evaluate information, and uphold academic integrity in their mathematical endeavors. By instilling these values, students can harness the full potential of the internet as a tool for learning and growth in mathematics.

frequently asked questions

The internet has revolutionized the way mathematics is taught in schools by providing access to online resources , interactive tools, and virtual classrooms that enhance learning experiences for students.

Online resources provide accessibility to a wide range of mathematical content , offer interactive learning experiences, and allow for individualized learning paths.

Yes , the internet can help bridge the achievement gap in mathematics education by providing access to resources , online tutoring, interactive tools, and personalized learning experiences for students of all backgrounds.

Yes , there are drawbacks to relying heavily on technology for teaching mathematics.

The accessibility of online math tools positively impacts student engagement and understanding in Mathematics education.

In conclusion, it is evident that the internet has brought about significant changes in society, including in the field of Mathematics education. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate, it is crucial to continue exploring how we can harness the potential of the internet to improve learning outcomes and access to mathematical resources for all individuals. As we navigate the digital age, it is essential to critically evaluate the impact of the internet on our educational systems and ensure that we are using technology to enhance, rather than hinder, the learning experience.

If you want to know other articles similar to Has the Internet Improved Society? Exploring an Argumentative Essay you can visit the category General Education .

Michaell Miller

Michaell Miller

Michael Miller is a passionate blog writer and advanced mathematics teacher with a deep understanding of mathematical physics. With years of teaching experience, Michael combines his love of mathematics with an exceptional ability to communicate complex concepts in an accessible way. His blog posts offer a unique and enriching perspective on mathematical and physical topics, making learning fascinating and understandable for all.

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Impact of the Internet on Society

Current position, impact on medicine, impact on business, impact on media and government.

The Internet is justifiable referred to as one of the most beneficial technological advances of the 21 st century. Despite the increasing concern over the negative impact of the Internet on young people and the increasing risk of online fraud, the Internet improves interpersonal communication, enhances education, and contributes to economic prosperity. The Internet is fast and reliable. It gives every person an opportunity to express himself through writing. The Internet is the source of the most recent information from any part of the world. Disadvantaged people, in particular, benefit from the Internet the most as virtual space is the place to find employment, to gain education, and meet people from all over the world.

Nine years ago, Carmella Kedem (1999) noted, “The Internet creates new ways for citizens to communicate, congregate, and share information of social nature. It is obvious that the Internet has and will continue to change the way we live”. These words became the prophecy as today it is hardly possible to find a person living in a developed country who has never used the Internet for any purpose. The Internet serves several goals: it educates, entertains, and provides information. For example, students have an opportunity to find additional information for any course, while parents may find professional advice on childcare. In addition, the Internet is the largest archive of information in the world. It contains data on organizations, services, laws, employment, etc.

According to the Internet World Stats, approximately 22 percent of the global population (1.46 billion people) had Internet access as of June 2008 (The Internet and its Likely Impact upon Society, Business and the Economy 2008). People connect to the Internet from home, work, or through public libraries and Internet cafes. The academic and governmental origins of the Internet play an important role in the nature and development of this technological advance. More and more users become aware of the availability of the immeasurable quantity of free content of high quality. However, the reliability aspect of the Internet starts to change. Sites such as Wikipedia are recognized as authoritative even though they are maintained by the input of volunteers. In other words, any user may log in and provide the information he thinks is important, interesting, or useful.

While the impact of the Internet on education and entertainment is evident, the increasing number of researchers point out significant advances in medicine in relation to the Internet. In particular, the Internet is affordable, and it empowers patients to find quick relief to their health problems. While the Internet does not minimize the importance of visiting doctors, it serves as an extra specialist. Today, the Internet contains a wealth of information on health and diseases. Any person may educate himself on health issues and be much better informed to discuss his concerns with the doctor.

Moreover, the Internet fosters medical research. For example, the National Institute of Health in Maryland is actively using the Internet to unite leading healthcare specialists worldwide (Kedem 1999). This government facility engages the best scientists in the world to work in clinical research. Relocation is not always possible, while Internet technologies create an environment in which scientists can work on the same project without the need to be physically present in a specific location. Therefore, the Internet enhances medical research and advances the development of effective treatments and medications.

The Internet provides people with access to information about traditional as well as alternative medicine. For example, every person can easily find information about alternative Chinese medicine, which is well-known to the global community for its effectiveness. Moreover, every person has an opportunity to ask for advice and recommendation and read feedbacks written by those who have already tried diverse treatments and medications. “The vast sea of medical information available to the public on the Internet empowers patients and their families as they can gain so much knowledge about the newest research and treatments” (Kedem 1999).

The Internet creates an environment of perfect competition in which prices for a wide range of products can be compared within a couple of seconds. Due to the increasing number of people using the Internet as a source of information, “arbitrage will become a fact of life in the electronic economy. Nowhere will artificially high prices be sustainable” (The Internet and its Likely Impact upon Society, Business and the Economy 2008). There are numerous sites that enable consumers to find the best online offers for any product or service they need. Moreover, the comparison services are delivered for free. Thus, the Internet forces suppliers competing on local, state, national, and international levels to lower their prices to remain competitive.

In addition, the Internet fosters creativity and innovation as businesses must continuously work on the improvement of products to gain the attention of potential consumers. E-commerce is much cheaper than TV advertising but is equally effective. In other words, a start-up business may grow into a large corporation without investment in advertising. Moreover, the Internet presence has already become a must for any business. On the other side, many people use the Internet to gather information before making an actual purchase or ordering a product. For example, the Internet is the best tool to plan a vacation – a person may sit comfortably in his house while surfing the Internet for information on interesting places to visit. Once the place is chosen, a person can easily find any information about upcoming events in the chosen area and even identify the company with the best deal or price on the vacation plan.

The impact of the Internet on government is two-sided. Firstly, the Internet gives governments an opportunity to enhance information gathering and improve security protection. For example, the Internet empowers government officials to track the flow of information and identify the potential areas of threats. Secondly, the Internet and technological advances present a threat to information protection. Meadowcroft (2006) outlines eight areas requiring peculiar attention: information must be lawfully processed and be used for limited purposes, it must be adequate and not excessive, information must not be kept longer than necessary and be processed in accordance to rights, and it must be secure and not transfers to third parties without adequate protection. The Internet is a virtual space to store, manipulate, distribute and create information. Therefore, news and media organizations are impacted by the Internet. In particular, the Internet gives an opportunity to distribute the most recent news within seconds at a low cost. On the other side, the Internet has the potential to distort information or to present it without proper validity and reliability test.

In conclusion, the Internet has a positive impact on the life of people. It fosters medical research, creates new business opportunities, and empowers users to access the most recent and reliable information quickly and without any costs.

Kedem, C. (1999, Spring). The Social Impact of the Internet on Our Society . 2008. Web.

Meadowcroft, B. (2006). The Impact of Information Technology on Work and Society . 2008. Web.  

The Internet and its Likely Impact upon Society, Business and the Economy . (2008). Web.

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Science News

How the internet will change the world — even more.

By Lee Rainie

March 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm

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Recently, 895 Web experts and users were asked by the Pew Research Center and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina to assess predictions about technology and its effects on society in the year 2020. Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project in Washington, D.C., discussed the survey’s findings with Science News contributing correspondent Susan Gaidos.

internet made society better essay

This is your fourth “Future of the Internet” survey. Are there any themes that have come through all of the surveys?

There’s a broad feeling among technologists that technology itself is going to improve, come what may. That computing power, bandwidth, storage capacity, even our ability to pack pixels into screens, is going to keep improving.

At the same time, there is worry that humans and their institutions will not adapt as well as they might under these circumstances. We’re slow to adjust, and the technologies themselves are introducing so many new elements to life that people will potentially have a hard time adjusting to that. There’s a sense that people are marching not necessarily blindly, but certainly without full knowledge, into a future that they don’t fully know. They’re thrilled with their gadgets but they don’t know what their gadgets are doing to them.

In this era of social media, how will privacy and anonymity be maintained?

Anonymity will be harder to maintain. There are too many threats that are posed by people being allowed to do anything they want without any level of accountability or authentication. There will still be chances for anonymous encounters, but they will be in special environments in special ways.

We’re in an environment now where lots of personal sharing is going on. The experts anticipate that a new sensibility would emerge called “reputation management.” There will be tools that allow people to erase all the goofy things that they did in college, if they want to. People will be able to essentially crowd out bad information about themselves by getting better information out there and making it more prominent, more linked to or more easily findable.

The majority of experts agreed that by 2020, people’s use of the Internet will enhance human intelligence. How so?

The Web is shifting the needs that we have in our lives and the functions that we can perform, so there will be some cognitive shifting that goes on. We don’t have to remember as much stuff, for example, so there might be a shift in cognitive abilities over time from less memorization and storage. New literacies will be required such as screen literacy. Reading, writing, arithmetic and retrieval will become key, as people who can find [information] fastest and make sense of it will be at a marked advantage over those who struggle to find information and have less capacity to synthesize and organize this wealth of data that we have.

In what other realms of life did people anticipate improvements?

There’s almost a uniform feeling that health care will get better. Mobile technology and wearable devices will be able to give real-time feedback about people’s health status.  That will potentially be a life-changing event for the chronically ill or for people who have to manage their care in a deliberate way. That the capacity to interact with a doctor — either through devices or through communications that don’t involve office visits — will improve interactions and empower people in important new ways to be managers of their own health care.

The education story is a different one. There’s hope that education will change, but some despair that it’s not changing fast enough. Kids are still being taught largely in the same format and environment that their great-grandparents were — with students of the same age sitting in a classroom riveted on the all-knowing teacher.

Technologists think that that model will break down at some point and a very different set of activities will define formal education. It won’t necessarily be people of the same age, they won’t necessarily be in the same place. What will organize them is their proficiency in a subject and their interest in a subject.

There’s also hope invested in e-government and civic activity. People have new ways to engage with each other and their leaders about social activity, and to engage with the governmental agencies that are entrusted to act in those areas. The technology community has high hopes that these tools will be deployed in more interesting and exciting new ways so that we’ll see more government data and will be able to make smarter policies because of that.

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Regions & Countries

Declining majority of online adults say the internet has been good for society, at the same time, the contours of connectivity are shifting: one-in-five americans are now ‘smartphone only’ internet users at home.

(Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Americans tend to view the impact of the internet and other digital technologies on their own lives in largely positive ways, Pew Research Center surveys have shown over the years. A survey of U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 finds continuing evidence of this trend, with the vast majority of internet users (88%) saying the internet has, on balance, been a mostly good thing for them personally.

internet made society better essay

But even as they view the internet’s personal impact in a positive light, Americans have grown somewhat more ambivalent about the impact of digital connectivity on society as a whole. A sizable majority of online adults (70%) continue to believe the internet has been a good thing for society. Yet the share of online adults saying this has declined by a modest but still significant 6 percentage points since early 2014, when the Center first asked the question. This is balanced by a corresponding increase (from 8% to 14%) in the share of online adults who say the internet’s societal impact is a mix of good and bad. Meanwhile, the share saying the internet has been a mostly bad thing for society is largely unchanged over that time: 15% said this in 2014, and 14% say so today.

This shift in opinion regarding the ultimate social impact of the internet is particularly stark among older Americans, despite the fact that older adults have been especially rapid adopters of consumer technologies such as social media and smartphones in recent years. Today 64% of online adults ages 65 and older say the internet has been a mostly good thing for society. That represents a 14-point decline from the 78% who said this in 2014. The attitudes of younger adults have remained more consistent over that time: 74% of internet users ages 18 to 29 say the internet has been mostly good for society, comparable to the 79% who said so in 2014.

As was true in our 2014 survey, college graduates are more likely than those with lower levels of educational attainment to say the internet has had a positive impact on society (and less likely to say it has had a negative impact). Among online adults with a college degree, 81% say the impact of the internet on society has been mostly good and just 7% say it has been mostly bad. By contrast, 65% of those with a high school diploma or less say the internet has had a mostly good impact on society, and 17% say its impact has been mostly bad.

Positive views of the internet are often tied to information access and connecting with others; negative views are based on a wider range of issues

Those who think the internet has had a good impact on society tended to focus on two key issues, according to follow-up items which allowed respondents to explain their views in their own words. Most (62% of those with a positive view) mentioned how the internet makes information much easier and faster to access. Meanwhile, 23% of this group mentioned the ability to connect with other people, or the ways in which the internet helps them keep more closely in touch with friends and family.

By contrast, those who think the internet is a bad thing for society gave a wider range of reasons for their opinions, with no single issue standing out. The most common theme (mentioned by 25% of these respondents) was that the internet isolates people from each other or encourages them to spend too much time with their devices. These responses also included references to the spread and prevalence of fake news or other types of false information: 16% mentioned this issue. Some 14% of those who think the internet’s impact is negative cited specific concerns about its effect on children, while 13% argued that it encourages illegal activity. A small share (5%) expressed privacy concerns or worries about sensitive personal information being available online.

One-in-five Americans are now ‘smartphone only’ internet users at home

internet made society better essay

As has consistently been true in past surveys conducted by the Center, those who rely on their smartphones for home internet service are disproportionately less likely to have attended college compared with those with traditional broadband service. They also report living in lower-income households. For instance, 31% of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are smartphone-only internet users, more than three times the share among those living in households earning $75,000 or more per year (9%). This phenomenon is also notably more prevalent among blacks and Hispanics than among whites.

Conversely, relatively well-educated and financially well-off Americans are substantially more likely to say they do have a traditional broadband connection at home. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans in households earning $75,000 or more per year say they subscribe to home broadband service, nearly double the rate among those earning less than $30,000 per year (45% of whom have broadband service at home).

Beyond this growing reliance on smartphones for home internet service in lieu of traditional broadband service, it is also notable that 15% of Americans indicate that they have neither broadband service at home nor a smartphone. A large share of this group is not online at all: 11% of Americans indicate that they do not use the internet or email from any location. In other cases, the share without home broadband or a smartphone represents Americans who go online using other means.

And as was the case with smartphone-only internet usage, those who lack both broadband service and a smartphone are disproportionately likely to be from certain segments of the population. Most notably, 40% of Americans ages 65 and older fall into this category. But this is also true for substantial minorities of rural residents (25%), those who have not attended college (25%) and those from households earning less than $30,000 per year (23%).

  • The Center has used several different question wordings to identify broadband users in recent years. Our survey conducted in July 2015 used a directly comparable question wording to the one used in this survey. ↩

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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Has Coronavirus Made the Internet Better?

internet made society better essay

By Jenna Wortham

  • Published April 6, 2020 Updated April 8, 2020

On a recent Saturday night, Derrick Jones, a D.J. who performs under the name D-Nice, live-streamed himself working his turntables from his home in Los Angeles, where he was self-isolating. He started early in the afternoon and played deep into the night, pausing only to sip his drink, take the briefest of bathroom breaks and change into a new flamboyant hat. Despite all the chaos outside, here, online, was a safe harbor. The only thing contagious was the mood, which was jubilant. As names of friends — and increasingly, famous people — floated across his screen, he would grin and call out their names in greeting: Rihanna. Dwyane Wade. Michelle Obama. Janet Jackson. As the night stretched on, the party shifted into something more meaningful than a celebratory distraction. Time and space collapsed as tens of thousands of people experienced the same song, the same shared spirit, no matter who or where they were. Kind of like Covid-19 itself.

At one point, apparently inspired, Jones shouted out thanks to all the nurses, doctors and hospital workers. His eyes drifted to the number of people in the “room,” surging toward 150,000, and paused, amazement shaping the contours of his eyes and mouth. “We should raise some money or something,” he said.

What D-Nice seemed to realize in that moment was something many people have realized since Covid-19 gripped the country: Social media could be mobilized for something far greater than self-promotion. Artists have taken to You-Tube or Instagram to provide some relief, to allow us to gather together and listen to an opera, or hear a standup set, or watch a poetry reading, all of us separate but still together. But more remarkable, it has become the medium by which people have organized to help others.

On Twitter, writers like Shea Serrano and Roxane Gay helped raise money for bills and groceries for those who are struggling. Programmers connected online to create a tool to schedule cooperative child care. Prison-reform organizations worked to bail out incarcerated people and send hand sanitizer to prisons and jails, where the virus is rampant. Google Docs files began circulating with information on food pantries and how to apply for unemployment. Go-Fund-Mes quickly popped up to distribute money to people hit hardest by the crisis, including sex workers, restaurant workers and underinsured artists. Healing practitioners made meditation sessions, yoga classes and other mental-health assistance available free online. Sewing patterns for masks and surgical caps were circulated online, and everyone from the rapper Future to the designer Collina Strada began efforts to produce them for front-line workers. Copper3D released its pending patent for 3-D printed masks, allowing anyone with a printer to churn them out and distribute them. In my own neighborhood, someone created a Slack channel where people shared strategies for deferring credit-card payments and rent and offered to run errands for families in need. Even the online performances, like D-Nice’s dance party, felt as though they were really less about pure entertainment and more about serving a nation, a world even, that was suffering in isolation and fear.

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For a time, futurists dreamed, optimistically, that cyberspace might exist as a place where humankind could hit reset on society. The idea was that the arrival of networked computers would create an imaginary space where bodily markers of difference would be masked by a Utopian fog. In 1996, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, John Perry Barlow issued a manifesto titled “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” which stated, “We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force or station of birth.” Barlow continued that the civilization he and others hoped to create would “be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.”

By now we know that those dreams were a fantasy, informed by the same imperialistic and colonial urges that underpinned the creation of the internet itself. No dream internet Utopia ever emerged. Instead, societal woes have been compounded by the rise of technology. The internet has been oriented around an axis of maximizing profits, almost since its inception. In “The Know-It-Alls,” the journalist (and my former colleague) Noam Cohen documents the emergence of Stanford University (nicknamed “Get Rich U.”) as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, a place where a “hacker’s arrogance and an entrepreneur’s greed has turned a collective enterprise like the web into something proprietary, where our online profiles, our online relationships, our online posts and web pages and photographs are routinely exploited for business reasons.” Today, it feels almost impossible to imagine another way of thinking about the internet.

And yet, in the aftermath of the arrival of the novel coronavirus, one has emerged that feels, at least for the moment, closer to John Perry Barlow’s embarrassingly earnest speech. It’s worth noting that he also said that cyberspace was an “act of nature, and it grows itself through our collective actions.”

Historically speaking, new infrastructures tend to emerge as a response to disasters and the negligence of governments in their wake. In the 1970s, for example, an activist group called the Young Lords seized an X-ray truck that was administering tuberculosis tests in East Harlem, where the disease was prevalent, and extended the operating hours to make it more readily available to working residents. In the days since the crisis began, I’ve been turning to Adrienne Maree Brown’s 2017 book, “Emergent Strategy,” which offers strategies for reimagining ways to organize powerful movements for social justice and mutual aid with a humanist, collective, anticapitalist framework. She describes the concept as “how we intentionally change in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.” Her book asks us not to resist change. That would be as futile as resisting the deeply embedded influence technology has on our lives. It’s the same as resisting ourselves. But rather, it asks that we adapt, in real time, taking what we know and understand and applying it toward the future that we want. The internet will never exist without complications — already, many of the tools that are helping acclimate to this new cyberreality have been called out for surveillance — but perhaps people are learning how to work the tools to their advantage now.

A few days after his marathon set, Jones talked to Oprah (over video) about his experience. “I’ve been in the music industry for over 30 years … but nothing felt like that, helping people.” Shortly afterward, he announced that his next party would be a party with a cause: a voter-registration drive. In one night, he helped motivate 13,000 people to start registering.

Jenna Wortham is a staff writer for the magazine and co-host of the podcast ‘‘Still Processing.’’ She last wrote about Megan Thee Stallion for the latest music issue.

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Internet Improves Lives| Benefits of the internet | has the internet made society better

14 Ways the Internet Improves Our Lives

  • March 1, 2022
  • Advocacy , General

The internet is a near ubiquitous aspect of modern life — making it easy to take for granted all the skills, tools, opportunities, and benefits that it provides. In celebration of CTN’s 14 years of digital inclusion work, we’ve compiled 14 ways that internet access and digital skills can improve someone’s quality of life and h ow the internet helps us in our daily life.

14 Benefits of the Internet and How the Internet Has Made Society Better:

Providing better access to health information and options..

Telemedicine can offer convenient, flexible, and more affordable care options to millions of Americans — especially those who lack accessible and quality healthcare in their region or need to stay at home due to health concerns or disabilities. While the benefits of this online tool are clear, they often go underutilized by the people who need it most due to lack of internet access.

Making it easier to communicate with friends and family.

one of the good things about the internet is that the Internet has made it easier to communicate with friends and family

From video call platforms to social media outlets, friends and family can connect more easily than ever before. For people who are not physically located near their community or have family members in other countries, the internet provides a bridge of connection.

Offering a wealth of online activities and experiences to enjoy remotely.

For older adults or people who might have difficulty leaving the house, the digital world is a gateway to exploration and enjoyment. One of CTN’s learners, Brenda Joyce , uses her tablet and digital skills to join virtual events, like collaging classes and the Frick Museum’s Cocktails with a Curator.

Promoting workforce development skills.

A report by Burning Glass Technologies found that more than 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs require digital skills. With access to the internet and the knowledge to use it, people can work towards higher-paying jobs, develop new skills, and better participate in a digital workforce.

Increasing access to social services and benefits.

There are a lot of helpful resources available that people might not know about or access if they’re not online. Benefits and social services — like the Affordable Connectivity Program — typically have portals, streamlined applications, and qualification info online.

Decreasing isolation and loneliness.

According to our partner Metta Fund , 7% of older adults spend one hour or less socializing with friends or family in one week. This is especially troubling when loneliness is linked to serious mental and physical health conditions.

Empowering people with a sense of agency.

For Luis , one of CTN’s Home Connect learners, the internet prompted a shift in his daily life. He uses his device to listen to music, audiobooks, and religious services. He was able to update his resume and apply for jobs. He even assisted others in getting registered online for vaccine appointments! With the tools of technology, older adults like Luis can independently pursue opportunities and interests online.

Improving education and learning opportunities.

why the internet is good, the Internet has improved education and learning opportunities

The pandemic revealed just how essential internet access is for k-12 students, and its importance will not fade in the coming years. In a 2019 Gallup survey, an overwhelming majority of teachers (85%), principals (96%), and administrators (96%) favored increased use of digital learning tools.

Participating in democracy and civic duties.

According to the Center for American Progress , those who register to vote online are more likely to participate in elections. Not only does the internet make it easier and more accessible to register to vote, but it also helps provide thorough information on candidates and upcoming elections.

Searching and applying for jobs.

The internet is now essential for finding new job opportunities, writing resumes, and submitting applications. Before getting connected to our Sunnyvale program, Laurie Rehaney was struggling to get back on her feet. When she received a Chromebook and training, she was able to find a full-time position working in home care! 

Maintaining curiosity, finding new interests, and pursuing hobbies.

The highly connected nature of the web lends itself to discovery. One of our Texas-based learners, Patricia Blaine , uses her tablet to take virtual piano lessons. She was excited to discover how easy it is to record and upload videos to YouTube and is hoping to share her music with others. 

Improving the economy for everyone.

A Deloitte study found that a 10% increase in broadband access in 2014 would have resulted in more than 875,000 additional U.S. jobs and $186 billion more in economic output in 2019. Not only is access to the internet helpful for individuals’ economic well-being, but it is also essential for growing our digital economy.

Strengthening communities and social ties.

The internet helps people organize, collaborate, and share information with large numbers of people. For our partner Calle 24 — the leading nonprofit of San Francisco’s Latino Cultural District — lacking the internet puts older businesses at a disadvantage when competing with new, trendy spots. With social media and emails, the Latino Cultural District can distribute information about upcoming events to a wider audience while better engaging with the established community.

Creating a better world.

one of the positive effects of the internet is that it has made the world a better place

While the benefits of the internet and technology are clear, accessing them is still a challenge for millions of Americans. This means we must work to build an equitable and inclusive internet that improves the lives of all people — regardless of their age, income level, or primary language. Want to help us expand digital equity and inclusion? Check out our volunteer and partner opportunities to get involved!

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Essay on Importance of Internet: Samples for Students

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  • Nov 23, 2023

essay on importance of internet

Internet is not just a need or luxury, it has become a household necessity. It was used as a source of entertainment but now it is impossible to work in offices or study without the Internet. When the global pandemic locked everyone in their house, it became an important medium to connect, study and work. Students were able to study without the risk of catching COVID-19 because of the Internet. The importance of the internet is also a common topic in various entrance exams such as SAT , TOEFL , and UPSC . In this blog, you will learn how to write an essay on the importance of the Internet.

This Blog Includes:

Tips to write the perfect essay on internet, sample 1 of essay on the importance of the internet (100 words), sample essay 2 – importance of the internet (150 words), sample essay 3 on use of internet for student (300 words).

Also Read: LNAT Sample Essays

internet made society better essay

Now the task of essay writing may not always be easy, hence candidates must always know a few tips to write the perfect essay. Mentioned below are a few tips for writing the correct essay:

  • Prepare a basic outline to make sure there is continuity and relevance and no break in the structure of the essay
  • Follow a given structure. Begin with an introduction then move on to the body which should be detailed and encapsulate the essence of the topic and finally the conclusion for readers to be able to comprehend the essay in a certain manner
  • Students can also try to include solutions in their conclusion to make the essay insightful and lucrative to read.

Also Read: UPSC Essay Topics

The last few years have witnessed heavy reliance on the Internet. This has been because of multiple advantages that it has to offer – for instance, reducing work stress and changing the face of communication most importantly. If we take the current scenario, we cannot ignore how important the Internet is in our everyday lives. It is now indeed a challenging task to visualize a world without the internet. One may define the internet as a large library composed of stuff like – records, pictures, websites, and pieces of information. Another sector in which the internet has an undeniably important role to play is the field of communication. Without access to the internet, the ability to share thoughts and ideas across the globe would have also been just a dream. 

Also Read: IELTS Essay Topics

With the significant progress in technology, the importance of the internet has only multiplied with time. The dependence on the internet has been because of multiple advantages that it has to offer – for instance, reducing work stress and changing the face of communication most importantly. By employing the correct usage of the internet, we can find various information about the world. The internet hosts Wikipedia, which is considered to be one of the largest best-composed reference books kept up by a vast community of volunteer scholars and editors from all over the world. Through the internet, one may get answers to all their curiosity.

In the education sector too, it plays a major role, especially taking into consideration the pandemic. The Internet during the pandemic provided an easy alternative to replace the traditional education system and offers additional resources for studying, students can take their classes in the comforts of their homes. Through the internet, they can also browse for classes – lectures at no extra cost. The presence of the Internet is slowly replacing the use of traditional newspapers. It offers various recreational advantages as well. It can be correctly said that the internet plays a great role in the enhancement of quality of life.

Also Read: TOEFL Sample Essays

One may correctly define the 21st century as the age of science and technology. However, this has been possible not only by the efforts of the current generation but also by the previous generation. The result of one such advancement in the field of science and technology is the Internet. What is the Internet? So the internet can be called a connected group of networks that enable electronic communication. It is considered to be the world’s largest communication connecting millions of users.

The dependence on the internet has been because of multiple advantages that it has to offer – for instance, reducing work stress and changing the face of communication most importantly. Given the current scenario, the Internet has become a massive part of our daily lives, and it is now a challenging task to imagine the world without the Internet. The importance of the Internet in the field of communication definitely cannot be ignored.

Without access to the internet, the ability to share thoughts and ideas across the globe would have been just a dream. Today we can talk to people all over the globe only because of services like email, messenger, etc that are heavily reliant on the internet. Without the internet, it would be hard to imagine how large the world would be. The advent of the internet has made the task of building global friendships very easy.

The youth is mainly attracted by entertainment services. Streaming platforms like Amazon , Netflix, and YouTube have also gained immense popularity among internet users over the past few years. The presence of the Internet is slowly replacing the use of traditional newspapers among people too. 

In addition to these, it has various recreational advantages to offer as well. For instance, people can search for fun videos to watch and play games online with friends and other people all over the globe. Hence, we can say the internet holds immense importance in today’s era. Internet technology has indeed changed the dynamics of how we communicate, respond or entertain ourselves. Its importance in everyday life is never-ending. It can be correctly said that the internet plays a great role in the enhancement of quality of life. In the future too, we will see further changes in technology .

Also Read: SAT to Drop Optional Essays and Subject Tests from the Exam

Related Articles

The internet provides us with facts and data, as well as information and knowledge, to aid in our personal, social, and economic development. The internet has various applications; nevertheless, how we utilize it in our daily lives is determined by our particular needs and ambitions.

Here are five uses of the internet: email; sharing of files; watching movies and listening to songs; research purposes; and education.

The Internet has also altered our interactions with our families, friends, and life partners. Everyone is now connected to everyone else in a more simplified, accessible, and immediate manner; we can conduct part of our personal relationships using our laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

This was all about an essay on importance of Internet. The skill of writing an essay comes in handy when appearing for standardized language tests. Thinking of taking one soon? Leverage Live provides the best online test prep for the same. Register today to know more!

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Nikita Puri

Nikita is a creative writer and editor, who is always ready to learn new skills. She has great knowledge about study abroad universities, researching and writing blogs about them. Being a perfectionist, she has a habit of keeping her tasks complete on time before the OCD hits her. When Nikita is not busy working, you can find her eating while binge-watching The office. Also, she breathes music. She has done her bachelor's from Delhi University and her master's from Jamia Millia Islamia.

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Home — Essay Samples — Information Science and Technology — Impact of Technology — Effects of Technology: How Has the Internet Made Society Better

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Effects of Technology: How Has The Internet Made Society Better

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Published: Sep 12, 2018

Words: 1798 | Pages: 4 | 9 min read

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So has the internet made society better or no, negative outcomes of using the internet excessively, a place for modern addiction, works cited.

  • Al-Hariri, M. T., & Al-Hattami, A. A. (2017). The relationship between internet addiction and academic achievement among university students. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 9(1), 99-107.
  • Cash, H., Rae, C. D., Steel, A. H., & Winkler, A. (2012). Internet addiction: A brief summary of research and practice. Current Psychiatry Reviews, 8(4), 292-298.
  • Encyclopedia of Questions and Answers. (2011). World Book, Inc.
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. (n.d.). Internet addiction: Signs, symptoms, and treatment. https://www.addictionrecov.org/Addictions/index.aspx?AID=43
  • Misky, G. J., & Holk, S. L. (2002). Depression in adolescents. American Family Physician, 66(9), 1731-1738.
  • Reader's Digest. (2001). 1001 Computer Hints and Tips. Reader's Digest Association.
  • Su, Y., & Lee, K. M. (2010). The internet and social interaction: A meta-analysis and critique. Human Communication Research, 36(3), 299-322.
  • TechnoHTML5. (2016). History of the internet. https://technohtml5.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/history-of-the-internet/
  • Wallace, P. (2014). The psychology of the internet. Cambridge University Press.
  • World Wide Web Foundation. (n.d.). A brief history of the Web. https://webfoundation.org/about/vision/history-of-the-web/

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Does the Internet Bring People Closer Together or Further Apart? The Impact of Internet Usage on Interpersonal Communications

1 Business School, Shandong University, Weihai 264209, China

Guangjie Ning

2 HSBC Business School, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, China

Qianqian Liu

Associated data.

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS, http://cgss.ruc.edu.cn/English/Home.htm (accessed on 25 September 2022). Restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for this study. Data are also available from the authors with the permission of the CGSS.

The complementarity interference (CI) model suggests that the Internet may either inhibit or facilitate interpersonal communications. This paper empirically examines the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal interactions, using a micro dataset from China to answer whether the Internet brings people closer together or further apart. The empirical results demonstrate, first, that Internet usage significantly increases both the time and frequency of people’s communications with their family and friends, rather than causing them to feel more disconnected and isolated. Holding other factors constant, for each one-standard-deviation increase in Internet usage, weekly communications with family members increases by an average of 102.150 min, while there is an average increase of 54.838 min in interactions with friends. These findings as to its positive effects are robust when using other regression models and interpersonal contact measures, as well as the instrumental variable method. Second, Internet usage also contributes to decreased loneliness; it exerts this effect primarily by improving people’s interactions with their family members. However, communications with friends do not significantly mediate such impacts. Third, the positive role of Internet usage on communications is more prominent for people with more frequent online socialization and self-presentation, better online skills, younger age, higher educational level, and who are living in urban areas. In addition, the beneficial effects of Internet usage are larger for communications with family members in the case of migrants. Therefore, in the context of the rapid development of information technology, the network infrastructure should be improved to make better use of the Internet to facilitate interpersonal communications and promote people’s wellness.

1. Introduction

Whether Internet usage brings people closer together or further apart is an important but unanswered question. With the rapid development of information technology, the Internet has been widely used in various areas almost all over the world. According to Internet World Stats, compared with the year 2000, the number of global Internet users in 2022 has increased by 14.16 times. By 31 July 2022, there were 5.47 billion Internet users in the world out of the 7.93 billion global population, and the penetration rate has steadily risen to 68.98% [ 1 ]. The rapid taking up of the Internet has profoundly changed human society in multiple aspects. On the macro level, it has reduced transaction costs, promoted industrial upgrading [ 2 , 3 ], and driven economic development [ 4 , 5 ]. On the micro level, the Internet has tremendous impacts on people’s daily lives and has changed their lifestyles, habits, attitudes and preferences [ 6 , 7 , 8 ]. However, the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications is still unclear. The complementarity interference (CI) model suggests that the Internet may either inhibit or facilitate interpersonal interactions.

On the one hand, in terms of the interference aspects, there may be a crowding-out effect of Internet usage on interpersonal contacts. Using the Internet may divert people’s attention from communicating with family and friends to other activities, such as playing online games, surfing websites, watching online videos, and live streaming. This may lead people to ignore real-life communications [ 9 , 10 , 11 ]. In addition, excessive addiction to the Internet can also trigger people’s depression, anxiety, and emotional impulsivity, resulting in a poor psychological state and even social phobias [ 12 , 13 ]. This may also cause people to reduce their interpersonal interactions. Based on this finding, it has been hypothesized that the more time spent on the Internet, the fewer interpersonal communications there will be.

On the other hand, in terms of complementarity, the Internet may facilitate interpersonal communications by reducing communication costs and providing opportunities for teleconferencing. Before the popularization of modern information technologies, people could only communicate by meeting face to face. Later, the development of communication technologies, such as the telegraph and telephone, eliminated the geographical boundaries of interpersonal contacts and made remote communication a reality. However, traditional communication technologies can only transmit information via voice and text messages and have the drawback of high cost. The Internet has greatly reduced the cost of communications, shortened the distances between disparate groups, and has even made it possible for people to meet via video conferencing [ 14 ]. In addition, Internet technologies have brought a variety of emerging communication platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom, and WeChat, helping people to communicate more conveniently at a much lower cost [ 15 , 16 , 17 ]. On the basis of this evolution, it is hypothesized that the more time people spend on the Internet, the more interpersonal communications there are.

Interpersonal communications are essential to building social networks, which is also a necessary channel to help people establish social trust and enhance their sense of belonging and happiness [ 18 , 19 , 20 ]. Therefore, in the context of the rapid development of Internet technology, it is of great importance to clarify the impact of the Internet on interpersonal communications. If Internet usage can facilitate interpersonal interactions at a lower cost and in a more convenient way, then we should make full use of this technology to promote communications. Conversely, if the Internet reduces interpersonal communications, then necessary measures should be taken to alleviate its negative effects on interpersonal interactions while utilizing the benefits of the Internet in other aspects. Therefore, this paper aims to empirically examine the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications, using the Chinese General Social Survey. The robustness and endogeneity of the results are also tested from multiple perspectives. On this basis, we further explore the impact of Internet usage on people’s feelings of loneliness and the mediating role of interpersonal communications. In addition, the heterogeneities of the Internet’s effects are systematically investigated.

Compared with the existing literature, the contributions of this paper are mainly reflected in two aspects. First, this paper enriches the research concerning the Internet’s impacts on people. Most of the existing literature examines the influence of the Internet from the points of view of working conditions, psychological states, emotions, health, preferences, and lifestyles [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ], while little research has been conducted concerning its effect on interpersonal communications. Second, this paper deepens our understanding of the influencing factors of interpersonal interactions, from the new perspective of modern information technology. Existing studies in the field of social communications have mainly focused on the effects of demographic characteristics, social identities, culture, and so on [ 25 , 26 , 27 ], lacking any assessment of the impact of the Internet.

This paper aims to examine the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications, as well as to investigate the heterogeneities in its effect, to systematically answer whether the Internet brings people closer together or pushes them further apart. This study is carried out following the research logic of “literature review—theoretical framework—empirical tests—further discussion—heterogeneity analysis”. A systematic literature review is given in Section 2 . Based on the literature, a theoretical framework using the complementarity interference (CI) model is presented in Section 3 , wherein the hypotheses are proposed. To test the theory, the data, variables, and empirical results are presented in Section 4 and Section 5 . Section 6 further discusses the impact of Internet usage on loneliness and the mediating role of interpersonal communications, as well as the Internet’s effects in other respects. Section 7 explores the heterogeneities of the impact of Internet usage. Section 8 summarizes all the conclusions drawn in the above sections, Section 9 identifies the theoretical and practical implications, and Section 10 discusses the study’s limitations and further research directions.

2. Literature Review

2.1. the impact of internet usage on people’s lives.

With the advancement of information technology, the Internet has become more and more indispensable in people’s daily lives. The Internet has brought tremendous positive impacts in multiple aspects. For example, Internet-based telecommuting is becoming a convenient and increasingly popular mode of work around the world [ 28 ]. Moreover, studies have found that self-presentation on social media helps users to achieve higher psychological well-being [ 29 ]. Heterogeneity analysis demonstrates that the positive impact of self-presentation on social media on psychological well-being is more significant in those with higher self-esteem [ 30 ]. Through online comparisons, people are able to generate benign envy, which is helpful for inspiration [ 22 , 31 ].

However, it has also been found that the Internet has mixed and heterogeneous impacts on its users. For example, while for girls, daily Internet use was not associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms [ 32 ], for boys, a positive association between the two factors did exist [ 33 ]. Interestingly, a study based on a Chinese sample found a significantly positive association between Internet use and mental health [ 34 ]. Many studies have also identified jealousy as one of the main symptoms of poorer states of mental health resulting from Internet use [ 35 , 36 , 37 ]. In addition to psychological health, existing studies find a significant negative association between mobile Internet use and self-rated health [ 34 ]. Moreover, online games are one of the most significant applications of the Internet and their impacts are controversial. It is found that frequent exposure to violent online games tends to be associated with an increase in aggressive behavior, desensitization, and physiological arousal, while also showing a decrease in empathy [ 38 ]. However, other studies have found that the correlation between online games and aggressive behaviors is not significant [ 23 , 24 ]. In addition, practical games are widely used in multiple areas of education, healthcare, sustainability projects, training, and consultancy, but their effectiveness varies due to differences in the designs [ 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 ].

Furthermore, Internet usage has also led to the emergence of Internet addiction, a new clinical disorder [ 44 ]. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased people’s Internet online usage and a rising prevalence of Internet addiction has been reported among people in various occupations [ 45 , 46 ]. Although Internet addiction has not been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychological Association (APA), existing studies have shown that it is a new type of serious mental disorder [ 47 ]. There are heterogeneities in the severity and prevalence of Internet addiction. Regionally, Internet addiction has a greater impact on Internet users in developed areas, such as in Europe and the United States [ 48 , 49 ]. Studies also found that those with greater neuroticism are more likely to become addicted to the Internet [ 50 , 51 ]. Heterogeneity also exists in terms of gender, age, and social class. For example, people with a higher social class are less likely to experience Internet addiction [ 49 , 52 ].

2.2. Factors Affecting Interpersonal Communications

Interpersonal communication is a complex social process and is closely related to people’s well-being. Evidence shows that those with a high level of communication skills have a better mental health status compared to their counterparts [ 53 , 54 ]. Other studies have found that higher interpersonal stress is associated with stronger symptoms of insomnia, which, in turn, is associated with poorer mental health status [ 55 , 56 ]. In addition to its important impact on the psychological well-being of individuals, interpersonal communication also plays an essential role in building strong family relationships [ 57 , 58 ]. The importance of interpersonal communication is also reflected in many other aspects, including improving learning ability, obtaining job opportunities, promoting career development, etc. [ 59 , 60 ].

Regarding the factors affecting interpersonal communications, studies have found that age, gender, culture, social background, working characteristics, geographical distance, and technology exert a level of influence [ 25 , 58 , 61 ], although there is disagreement about the exact impact of these factors. For example, ethnic background affects interpersonal communications to some extent, mainly because people with different backgrounds are more likely to experience cultural misunderstandings with each other [ 26 ]. It has already been mentioned above that interpersonal communication can influence mental health and physical activities. Likewise, the two factors also affect interpersonal interaction. A study using a sample of college students found that social anxiety had a negative impact on their interpersonal communication skills, while psychological resilience played a mediating role between them, and perceived social support from teachers and classmates further moderated their psychological resilience [ 62 ]. It was also found that physical activity can facilitate family communication among family members because it provides more opportunities for them to meet [ 27 , 63 ].

In general, existing studies demonstrate that interpersonal communications are of great importance in promoting people’s mental health and helping families to build resilience. At the same time, interpersonal communications are conducive to acquiring new knowledge and playing a better role in both the family and society. Moreover, demographic, work, human capital, and social characteristics are the main factors that influence interpersonal communication.

2.3. Possible Relationship between Internet Usage and Interpersonal Communication

As mentioned above, interpersonal communication plays an important role in people’s lives, work, and careers; nowadays, it can be achieved by face-to-face interactions as well as via the Internet. At the same time, the Internet has both pros and cons in many aspects. So how does the Internet impact interpersonal communications? Based on existing research, it is believed that frequent exposure to the Internet distracts users from their offline lives [ 64 ]. For example, the use of mobile Internet via smartphones distracts parents from spending time with their children and undermines the communication between parents and children [ 65 ]. Furthermore, another study shows that children’s Internet use is also associated with a decrease in their participation in family activities. When people are overly dependent on the Internet, online activities can replace offline social connections with their family members and friends [ 11 , 66 ]. Internet addiction has also been proven to lead to a reduction in people’s social and interpersonal skills [ 47 , 67 ], which may further reduce their communications with family and friends. Although the effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications has not been directly studied, the aforementioned studies imply that time spent on the Internet may crowd out interpersonal interaction, to some extent.

However, other studies point to the possible positive effects of Internet usage on interpersonal communication. Thanks to the development of Internet technology, today, text messages and voice calls are no longer the main methods for people of all ages [ 15 , 16 ]. Social networking software and group chats have become popular communication platforms [ 27 , 68 ]. Many studies have found that the use of the Internet effectively brings much convenience to interpersonal connections for both the young and old cohorts [ 69 , 70 ], which in turn can benefit people’s well-being [ 71 ]. Indeed, compared with traditional communication methods, such as letters, telegraphs and phone calls, the Internet provides innovative means of communication, such as video meetings, in a more convenient and cost-saving way. For example, WhatsApp has been shown to facilitate intergenerational family interactions [ 17 ]. Facebook helps to maintain interpersonal relationships for those who have difficulty making social connections, especially for people with low self-esteem [ 72 ].

Overall, the Internet has changed people’s lives tremendously, although its effects on interpersonal communications have not been systematically tested. In this context, it can be hypothesized from the existing research that the Internet may crowd out interpersonal communications [ 47 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 ]. Nevertheless, many studies believe that the Internet reduces the cost of communication between people, offering more diverse and convenient ways to make contact [ 15 , 16 , 68 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 ]. Therefore, it can also be speculated that the Internet may shorten the distances between people, thereby promoting interpersonal communication. However, even with theoretical analysis and the existing literature, the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal interactions is still unclear. In view of this gap in the literature, we aim to systematically investigate how the Internet affects interpersonal communication.

3. Theoretical Framework

3.1. internet usage.

This paper aims to investigate the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communication. For the explanatory variable, time spent on the Internet is the most direct and important indicator by which to measure Internet usage; it is very intuitive and is widely used [ 11 , 67 , 73 ]. In addition, it has been applied not only to characterize how people generally use the Internet in their daily life but also to measure possible excessive Internet use and Internet addiction [ 74 ].

3.2. Interpersonal Communications

Studies have shown that communications with family members and friends are most important in people’s daily interpersonal interactions [ 75 , 76 , 77 ]. In the benchmarking analysis, time spent on communications with family and friends is used to reflect interpersonal interactions. Meanwhile, considering that the frequency of interactions is also a very important indicator for interpersonal contact, this is used for further robustness analysis. Both kinds of indicators have been applied to measure the levels of interpersonal contact in existing research [ 78 , 79 , 80 , 81 ].

The complementarity interference (CI) model [ 53 , 82 ] of the Internet, as illustrated in Figure 1 , provides a theoretical framework for analyzing the relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communication. Based on the following theoretical analysis, Internet usage may either facilitate or deteriorate interpersonal communication.

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Object name is behavsci-12-00425-g001.jpg

The theoretical framework of the study.

3.3. Interference Aspects of Internet Usage

3.3.1. distracting attention.

Studies have confirmed a significantly negative correlation between online and offline activities [ 83 ]. The Internet may divert people’s attention away from interpersonal interactions to online activities, including video games, online news, short videos, live streaming, etc., leading users to neglect communications with family and friends in real life [ 10 , 66 ]. This suggests that Internet usage may shift people’s attention; there may be a crowding-out effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communication. In addition, research has also found a negative correlation between Internet usage and time spent accompanying family members [ 11 ]. Although they do not specifically examine how the Internet affects family communications, the findings imply that time spent online may reduce interpersonal interactions inside the family, to some extent. In addition, in parent–child contact, the parent’s attention is easily distracted by online activities via smartphones, resulting in compromised parent-child bonds [ 65 ].

3.3.2. Reducing Social Skills

It has been shown that people tend to establish fewer offline social networks when they are overly dependent on the Internet [ 68 ]. This may be due to the fact that Internet usage reduces people’s social and interpersonal skills [ 67 ], thereby decreasing their communications and interactions. Studies have also found that among adolescents with a higher prevalence of Internet addiction, social skills are generally poorer [ 47 ]. Moreover, Internet addiction is proven to be closely related to attention deficit disorders, further causing social phobia [ 84 ]. Another study has identified that inadequate social skills and social fears decrease interpersonal communication [ 85 ]. Consequently, Internet use may hinder interpersonal interactions by reducing people’s social skills.

3.3.3. Increasing Negative Emotions

Internet usage may trigger depression, anxiety, and impulsiveness in some people, resulting in poor psychological states and negative emotions [ 10 ]. This may also further lead to a decrease in interpersonal interactions [ 11 , 73 ]. In addition, compared with face-to-face communications, Internet-based interpersonal interactions are disadvantaged in terms of emotional transmission and are, thus, less effective in enhancing effective communication [ 53 , 83 ]. Another source of negative feelings brought about by the Internet is peer pressure. Nowadays, people tend to share their daily lives via online platforms, inadvertently causing them to make comparisons with the lives of others. This makes people more pessimistic about their body image and standard of living, resulting in increased anxiety [ 86 ]. The nervousness caused by peer pressure on the Internet leads users to be more reluctant to communicate with others in the real world.

Based on the interference aspects of Internet usage, Hypothesis 1 can be proposed:

The more hours people use the Internet, the less time they spend on interpersonal communications.

3.4. Complementarity Aspects of Internet Usage

3.4.1. reducing the cost of interpersonal communications.

Before the popularization of modern information technologies, people could only communicate face-to-face. Later, the telegraph and telephone eliminated the geographical boundaries of interpersonal contact and made remote communication a reality [ 87 ]. However, traditional communication techniques face the problem of high costs. The Internet has greatly reduced both the time and money needed for instant communication, narrowed the distances between people, and made simultaneous communication affordable. For example, compared with telephone calls, Internet-based voice calls and online meetings cost much less in time and money for people to communicate [ 14 , 88 ].

3.4.2. Enriching Communication Channels and Modes

Traditional communication technologies mainly transmit voice and text, but it is difficult for them to simulate face-to-face interactions. The Internet has spawned a variety of emerging communication channels and modes, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom, and WeChat, which can help people to replicate face-to-face interactions more realistically online [ 15 , 16 ]. For example, during the COVID-19 epidemic, various network platforms facilitated remote working and learning [ 89 ]. Without the Internet, this would have been almost unachievable. In addition, Internet-based communications help to improve the quality of people’s long-distance interactions compared to traditional methods. For example, it has been established that WhatsApp, an instant online messaging tool, can promote intergenerational communication among family members and help them build better bridges of understanding with each other [ 17 ].

3.4.3. Building Wider Social Networks

The Internet helps people overcome communication barriers in real life, especially the fear of communicating with strangers, thereby establishing broader social networks [ 90 ]. Studies have found that Internet-based social networking platforms are effective in helping people share updates and, thus, build wider social connections across age, race, gender, geography, and social class boundaries [ 70 ]. Moreover, these enlarged social networks also create positive spillover effects in other aspects, improving people’s welfare. For example, people can use social media to communicate with others on health topics, which helps them become more health-conscious and intrinsically motivated to participate in physical exercises [ 69 ]. Therefore, online social connections contribute to improving people’s well-being, as well as promoting interpersonal communication and interactions [ 71 , 91 ].

Based on the complementarity aspects of Internet usage, Hypothesis 2 can be proposed:

The more hours people use the Internet, the more time they spend on interpersonal communications.

4. Data and Measures

4.1. data source.

The data used in this paper come from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS), one of the most important and nationally representative academic surveys in China. The CGSS aims to systematically and comprehensively investigate the social and economic situations of the Chinese people. CGSS is part of the world General Social Survey group and the sampling of CGSS is based on a multi-stage stratified design. The National Survey Research Center at the Renmin University of China (NSRC) has organized the Chinese Social Survey Network (CSSN), including 49 universities and provincial social science academies. Detailed information regarding CGSS can be accessed via http://cgss.ruc.edu.cn/English/Home.htm (accessed on 25 September 2022). The reason for using CGSS is mainly due to its three advantages. First, CGSS surveys people’s interpersonal communication and the factors influencing it in the extension module, which is a convenient way to construct the explained variables and control variables. Second, CGSS contains information on the respondents’ habits of Internet usage, which facilitates the construction of an explanatory variable for this research. Third, CGSS contains the ISCO-2008 (International Standard Classification of Occupations, 2008) codes of the respondents’ occupations, which helps us construct an instrumental variable, based on job characteristics, to deal with the endogeneity problem. Since the key explained and explanatory variables used in this paper are only available in the extension module of CGSS in 2017, the 2017-wave dataset is used for this research.

4.2. Measures

The main explained variable in this paper is the time spent on interpersonal communication by the respondents. Communication with family members and friends is most important in people’s daily interactions [ 75 , 76 ]; therefore, we constructed indicators for communications with family and friends, denoted as “family communication” and “friends communication”, respectively. The two variables come from the following questions in CGSS’s extension module, “How many hours do you spend on communicating with your family per week on average?” and “How many hours do you spend on communicating with your friends per week on average?”, respectively. In the robustness analysis, other indicators of interpersonal communications were also constructed. The explanatory variable of this paper is the time spent using the Internet, denoted as “Internet usage”. This variable is derived from the respondents’ answers to the question: “How many hours do you use the Internet per week on average?”.

Based on the relevant literature concerning the factors influencing interpersonal communications [ 61 , 62 ], in order to avoid the bias of omitted variables, this paper controls those factors related to interpersonal communications as comprehensively as possible in the following six aspects. (1) Basic demographic characteristics, including gender, age and the squared term of age. (2) Working characteristics, including personal income, whether the participant is working in the system and whether they have a pension and medical insurance. (3) Human capital characteristics, including educational level and health status. (4) Social characteristics, including whether the participant belongs to any ethnic minorities, have certain religious beliefs, or if they are a Communist Party of China (CPC) member. (5) Family characteristics include family size and the number of children. (6) Regional characteristics include provincial dummies. Detailed descriptions and statistics of the above variables are given in Table 1 .

Summary statistics.

Notes: The education level is classified from 1 to 13: 1—without any education, 2—kindergarten, 3—primary school, 4—junior high school, 5—vocational high school, 6—ordinary high school, 7—technical secondary school, 8—technical high school, 9—junior college (adult education), 10—junior college (regular education), 11—undergraduate (adult education), 12—undergraduate (regular education), 13—postgraduate and above. Health status is based on the self-rated health levels from 1 to 5: 1—very unhealthy, 2—relatively unhealthy, 3—medium, 4—relatively healthy, 5—very healthy.

5.1. Benchmark Results

To investigate the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications, this paper first constructs the following ordinary least squares (OLS) benchmark econometric model.

In model (1), I n t e r p e r s o n a l _ c o m m u n i c a t i o n i and I n t e r n e t _ u s a g e i represent the time spent on interpersonal communications and Internet usage, respectively, by the respondent, i . The time spent on communicating with family and friends is used to characterize I n t e r p e r s o n a l _ c o m m u n i c a t i o n i . x i ′ is the vector of the series of control variables described above. d p is the provincial fixed effect. This paper estimates the relationship between interpersonal communications and Internet usage with this model.

Table 2 shows the regression results, based on the above OLS model. Columns (1)–(3) demonstrate the results of the estimations concerning communicating with family members and columns (4)–(6) are estimated results concerning communicating with friends. It is clear that Internet usage is significantly and positively related to the time spent on communications with both family members and friends. Here, we conduct regression analysis by sequentially including the controls of different characteristics, with the aim of exploring whether the relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communications is affected by other factors. Table 1 shows that, by gradually adding control variables from different aspects, the estimated coefficients of Internet use are stable at around 0.095 and 0.051 for the two explained variables, respectively. Moreover, all the estimates are significantly positive at the 1% level. This suggests that the more time people spend on the Internet, the more time they spend interacting with family and friends, supporting Hypothesis 2. It also means that the significant correlation between Internet usage and interpersonal interactions is not affected by other factors and is very robust. The above results prove that Internet usage does not lead to greater alienation among people. On the contrary, the Internet significantly enhances interpersonal communications.

Benchmark results.

Notes: ***, **, and * indicate significance at the levels of 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively. The values in parentheses are standard errors robust to heteroskedasticity. ‘Yes’ means the corresponding variables are controlled in the regression, while ‘No’ means they are not controlled.

In addition, the benchmark estimates also show that the effect of the Internet on interpersonal interactions is very notable. Holding other factors constant, for each one-standard-deviation increase in Internet usage (17.921 h per week), the weekly communication with family members increases by an average of 102.150 min (17.921 × 0.095 × 60), while there is an average increase of 54.838 min in interactions with friends. This demonstrates that while Internet usage has significantly positive effects on communications with both family and friends, it plays a more prominent role in facilitating interactions among family members.

5.2. Robustness and Endogeneity Checks

In order to examine the robustness of the relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communications, and to tackle potential endogeneity problems, this paper conducts a series of robustness and endogeneity checks.

5.2.1. Using the Poisson Model

Considering the fact that the dependent variables, which represent the time spent on communicating with family and friends, are discrete non-negative integers and fit the Poisson distribution, we use the Poisson model to conduct the robustness test. Table 3 shows that when using the Poisson model for communications with both family and friends, the estimated coefficients of Internet usage are all significantly positive at the 1% level. In addition, with the controlling characteristics as different aspects, the estimated coefficients of Internet usage fluctuate slightly but are generally very stable. This further confirms that our findings regarding Internet usage promoting people’s interpersonal communications do not rely on the selection of the OLS model.

Robustness checks using the Poisson model.

Notes: *** indicate significance at the levels of 1%, respectively. The values in parentheses are standard errors robust to heteroskedasticity. ‘Yes’ means the corresponding variables are controlled in the regression, while ‘No’ means they are not controlled.

5.2.2. Using Other Indicators of Interpersonal Communication

In benchmark regression, we use the time spent on communications with family and friends to characterize interpersonal interaction. However, there may be measurement errors in some people’s perceptions of time. Furthermore, communication time may not adequately characterize the frequency of interpersonal communications. Based on this theory, to test the robustness of the findings, this paper further uses the frequencies of communication with family and friends as dependent variables, denoted as “Family communication frequency” and “Friends communication frequency”. These are derived from the respondents’ responses to “How often do you keep in touch with your family, on average?” and “How often do you keep in touch with your friends, on average?”. Answers are classified based on an eight-level scale from 1 to 8, representing “never”, “rarely”, “several times a year”, “once a month”, “2–3 times a month”, “once a week”, “several times a week”, and “every day”, respectively. Since they are ordered and explained variables for which the disparities between different levels of the scale are not equivalent, ordered Probit (Oprobit) and Logit (Ologit) models, as well as the OLS model, are used for estimation. The regression results are shown in Table 4 . It is clear that when using these kinds of dependent variables to measure interpersonal communications, and no matter which model is applied, Internet usage has a significantly positive effect on the frequency of people’s interactions with family and friends, which further confirms the robustness of the findings.

Robustness checks, using other indicators of interpersonal communications.

5.2.3. Endogeneity Tests

There may be endogeneity problems in the benchmark estimates, therefore, the significant relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communications may be a correlation rather than causality. The endogeneity problems may result from two aspects, comprising reverse causality and omitted variable bias. Regarding reverse causality, we suggest that people may use the Internet more frequently because they are more willing to communicate with family members and friends. For example, individuals who live alone, who frequently travel and migrate, may use the Internet because of the need to communicate remotely with their friends and family. With respect to omitted variable bias, although we have controlled as comprehensively as possible those elements that affect interpersonal communications, there may still be factors that are difficult to characterize. In order to examine the causal relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal interactions and to tackle potential endogeneity problems, the following instrumental variable models are applied for carrying out further checks.

A I i is the instrumental variable, which is the degree of artificial intelligence’s application in an individual, i ’s, work. Model (2) performs first-stage regression, using A I i to estimate I n t e r n e t _ u s a g e i . In model (3), second-stage regression is conducted to examine the effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications, using the predicted values in the first-stage estimation. The A I i indicator comes from Mihaylov and Tijden [ 92 ]. Existing studies have shown that the higher the application of artificial intelligence in their work, the higher the requirements for people’s skills in using the Internet [ 93 ], and thus, the more likely they are to show increased Internet usage. Therefore, the instrumental variable satisfies the correlation requirement. In addition, since artificial intelligence is an exogenous technological change and is, thus, not related to micro individual characteristics, this variable satisfies the exogeneity condition. As shown in Table 5 , results of the instrumental variable method with the two-stage least square (2SLS) method robustly prove that Internet usage has significantly positive impacts on interactions with family members and friends. This means that the significant relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communications is causal rather than being a simple correlation.

Endogeneity tests: impacts on communications using an instrumental variable.

Notes: *** and ** indicate significance at the levels of 1% and 5%, respectively. The values in parentheses are standard errors robust to heteroskedasticity. ‘Yes’ means the corresponding variables are controlled in the regression, while ‘No’ means they are not controlled.

5.2.4. Missing Data Imputation

There are missing data in this research, with a missing rate of (3740−3507)/3740 = 6.223%. Although it seems that the missing rate is not high, missing data may cause sample selection problems, leading to biased and inconsistent statistical results, because the information may be missing but not at random. Considering that the dataset is cross-sectional rather than longitudinal and when referring to Ibrahim and Molenberghs [ 94 ], Kropko et al. [ 95 ], and Baraldi and Enders [ 96 ], we further tested whether the findings of this paper could be affected by the missing data problem, applying the following widely accepted approach. Specifically, we replace the missing values with the mean of the remaining values. Results using this approach are shown in Table 6 and it is clear that they are consistent with the benchmark estimations in this paper.

Replacing the missing values with the mean of the remaining values (OLS model).

6. Further Discussions

6.1. effects of internet usage on loneliness.

It has been confirmed in the sections above that Internet usage facilitates communications with family and friends. Furthermore, studies have shown that interpersonal communications are beneficial to increasing social support and reducing people’s loneliness [ 97 , 98 , 99 ]. Therefore, we are interested in whether Internet usage helps to reduce loneliness by increasing people’s interpersonal contacts. To test this hypothesis, we use an indicator to characterize loneliness, denoted as “Lonely”. It is taken from respondents’ answers to the question “I feel lonely”, which is based on the Likert scale from 1–5, representing “never”, “seldom”, “sometimes”, “often”, and “frequently”. The larger the values of the two variables, the higher the level of loneliness.

The first columns in Table 7 demonstrate the effect of Internet usage on loneliness, wherein the estimated coefficients of Internet usage are all significantly negative. This indicates that Internet usage significantly reduces loneliness. Meanwhile, columns (2) and (4) in Table 7 are the regression results of the impacts of Internet usage on communication with family members and friends, which are consistent with those in Table 3 . Columns (3) and (5) present the results for when the indicators of family communication and friends communication are further included in regressions. The estimated results in column (3) of Table 7 show that communication with friends does not significantly affect people’s loneliness. However, in column (5), the estimates of family communication are significantly negative at the 1% level, implying that interactions with family help to decrease loneliness. At the same time, after the mediating variables, interpersonal communications are included in the regression, where the estimated coefficients of Internet usage remain significantly negative. Additionally, in column (5) of Table 7 , the absolute values of the Internet usage estimates decrease, further proving that communication with family members plays a mediating role between using the Internet and loneliness. This implies that Internet usage reduces the feeling of loneliness by facilitating communication among family members. Family members are particularly important for Chinese people and the Chinese culture; therefore, relationships among family members have a more prominent impact on personal feelings [ 100 ]. Thus, compared with communication with friends, contacts with family members mediate the impact of the Internet in reducing loneliness more significantly.

Further impacts on loneliness.

6.2. Effects of Internet Usage in the Other Aspects

The above analysis shows the positive impact of the Internet on interpersonal communications, but it is not correct to assume that this usage has only a positive dimension. Further analysis using CGSS data, as shown in column (1) of Table 8 , demonstrates that the more time people spend online, the easier it is to get addicted to the Internet, resulting in spending a longer time online than was planned. In addition, people who frequently use the Internet are more likely to feel anxious if they do not go online for a while (column (2) in Table 8 ). This is consistent with the existing studies, reporting that people tend to have difficulty controlling their time, and it is easier for them to become addicted to the Internet and the online world [ 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ]. Furthermore, we find that going online reduces the amount of time people spend outdoors (column (3) in Table 8 ) and leads to more family complaints that they spend too much time online (column (4) in Table 8 ). Although we cannot directly verify the effect of Internet usage on face-to-face interpersonal communication, due to data availability, this is an indirect way to test whether Internet use reduces people’s face-to-face contact with the outside world and results in increased complaints from family members. Moreover, in terms of physical health, it was also found that more Internet usage also causes people to have worse eyesight (column (5) in Table 8 ), as well as neck and shoulder pain (column (6) in Table 8 ). The above analysis is based on six Likert 5-point scale variables from the responses to the question, “How do the following descriptions fit your situation?”: “I often spend more time online than I planned”, “If I don’t go online for a while, I will be anxious and restless”, “I spend less time outdoors because of using the Internet”, “My family complains that I spend too much time online”, “My eyesight has become worse because of using the Internet”, “I have neck and shoulder pain because of using the Internet”. Their responses are: “1—very untrue of me”, “2—untrue of me”, “3—neutral”, “4—true of me”, and “5—very true of me”.

Other effects of internet usage (overlong usage and anxiety).

7. Heterogeneity Analysis

This paper further examines the heterogeneities of the impact of Internet usage on communications in different subgroups. First, in terms of the purposes of Internet usage, it is naturally hypothesized that if people use the Internet mainly for working or entertainment, rather than for interpersonal contact, then Internet usage should have no significant effect on their communications with family members and friends. This hypothesis is tested as follows. Specifically, this research divides the sample into subgroups, with different degrees of online social interactions and different preferences for online self-presentation, based on whether respondents frequently use social networking sites (including email, QQ, WeChat, Skype, etc.) to communicate with others, and whether they often post their updates on the social platforms (including WeChat, Moments, Qzone, Weibo, etc.). The regression results of Table 9 show that the impacts of Internet usage on communication with family and friends are only significant among those who often use the Internet to socialize, confirming the above hypothesis. In addition, posting updates regarding life and work via Internet social platforms also brings more online contacts. Table 10 shows that for individuals with a greater online presence, the positive effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications is more pronounced. This means that for people who are more socially connected to the Internet, online activities significantly promote their interpersonal contacts. The heterogeneity results in this aspect also demonstrate that online social contact facilitates communications with family and friends and further confirm the robustness of the findings of this paper.

Heterogeneity analysis, in terms of online contacts.

Heterogeneity analysis in terms of online posts.

Furthermore, considering that communications via the Internet require certain online skills, it is naturally hypothesized that for individuals with better Internet skills, Internet usage should be more conducive to improving their interpersonal communication. This paper conducts a heterogeneity test for this hypothesis. According to whether the respondents are able to communicate with others proficiently online (the corresponding question in the CGSS questionnaire is: “Do you know how to express your thoughts and proficiently communicate with others online?”), the following subsample analysis is performed. The estimated results in columns (1) and (2) of Table 11 show that in terms of communications with family members, the positive effects of Internet usage are greater and are only statistically significant for those with more online skills. Columns (3) and (4) of Table 11 demonstrate that in terms of communications with friends, the role of Internet usage is significant for the two subgroups, but the estimated coefficient is larger for individuals skilled in online communications. This confirms that the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal contacts is more pronounced for people with better online skills.

Heterogeneity analysis, in terms of Internet skills.

Notes: *** and * indicate significance at the levels of 1% and 10%, respectively. The values in parentheses are standard errors robust to heteroskedasticity. ‘Yes’ means the corresponding variables are controlled in the regression, while ‘No’ means they are not controlled.

Moreover, it has been shown in the existing literature that there are disparities in Internet usage and interpersonal communication among individuals of different ages and educational backgrounds [ 34 , 47 , 61 ]. Therefore, we further examine the heterogeneities of the impacts of Internet usage in the different subgroups, with different demographic characteristics. Table 12 shows that the impacts of Internet usage on communications with family and friends are significantly positive for both younger and older respondents. However, their effect is greater on the younger group under the age of 35, which may be due to the fact that young people are more inclined to use new online applications and are more skilled in Internet use. Therefore, the positive effect of Internet usage is more prominent in the younger cohort. The mean time of Internet usage for young individuals under 35 in CGSS is 23.59, which is much greater than that of their older counterparts, which is 7.56.

Heterogeneity analysis, in terms of age.

The results of the heterogeneity analysis in terms of education level are shown in Table 13 . It is demonstrated that regardless of whether the respondents have a bachelor’s degree or above, the positive effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications is significant. However, the Internet’s impact is more pronounced for those with higher educational levels. This may be due to the fact that the more educated groups have greater opportunities to learn and master the skills of using the Internet. In the CGSS sample, the average time of Internet usage among people with higher educational levels is much higher than the lower educated respondents (25.03 > 9.70).

Heterogeneity analysis, in terms of education level.

In addition, in terms of regional heterogeneity, it is clear from Table 14 that the impact of Internet usage on communications with family and friends is more prominent for urban residents. Compared with their rural counterparts, urban residents are more familiar with the Internet in their work and daily life, due to faster technological development and better network infrastructure. Therefore, the descriptive statistics for the two subsamples show that the mean hours of Internet usage for residents in rural and urban areas are 16.29 and 8.64, respectively.

Heterogeneity analysis in terms of region.

In addition, the Internet can help people to break geographical restrictions and realize remote communication, consequently shortening the distances between each other [ 19 ]. Therefore, it is natural to hypothesize that the role of Internet usage in facilitating communication may be more prominent for migrants. The regression results of Table 15 show that Internet usage has significant effects on promoting interpersonal communications, for both migrants and non-migrants. In particular, columns (1) and (2) show that in terms of family communication, the impact of Internet usage on migrants is more prominent than on non-migrants. However, columns (3) and (4) do not show a similar pattern in terms of communicating with friends. This is logical, since blood relationships among family members do not change due to migration, while friends can be found wherever you live. Migration leads to people moving further away from their families, geographically; consequently, the role of Internet usage in enhancing communications with family members is more prominent for migrants.

Heterogeneity analysis in terms of migration.

8. Conclusions

This paper empirically examines the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications with data from the Chinese General Social Survey to answer whether the Internet brings people closer together or further apart. The empirical results demonstrate that first, Internet usage helps to significantly increase the time and frequency of communications with family and friends, rather than causing people to feel more disconnected and isolated. This positive effect is robust when using various regression models and interpersonal contact measures, as well as the instrumental variable method. Specifically, the positive effects of Internet usage in promoting people’s interpersonal communications do not rely on the selection of regression models and are robustly significant regarding both the time that people spend on interactions, as well as the frequency of daily contacts. Furthermore, the relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal communications is proven to be causal rather than being a simple correlation, using the instrumental variable approach.

Second, Internet usage contributes to decreased loneliness, and it exerts this effect primarily by improving people’s interactions with their family members. However, communications with friends do not significantly mediate such impacts. This implies that the Internet reduces the feeling of loneliness by facilitating communication among family members, who are much more important in the Chinese culture, and therefore relationships among family members have a more important impact on personal feelings.

Third, the positive role of Internet usage on communications is more prominent for people with more frequent online socialization and self-presentation, higher online skills, younger age, higher educational levels and living in urban areas. In addition, the beneficial effects of Internet usage are larger on communications with family members for migrants. The reason may be that the blood relationships among family members do not change due to migration, while friends can be found anywhere.

9. Theoretical and Practical Implications

9.1. theoretical implications.

This paper clarifies the net effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications. Research has shown that Internet technology has tremendously enriched communication channels and modes [ 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 87 , 89 ]. Moreover, compared with traditional communication methods, such as phone calls and text messages, the Internet helps people to establish a much wider social network and achieve effective remote communication at a lower cost, as well as with greater efficiency [ 69 , 70 , 90 , 101 ]. Nevertheless, other studies reveal that Internet usage may distract people’s attention [ 10 , 11 , 65 , 66 , 83 ], reduce their social skills [ 47 , 67 , 68 , 84 , 85 ], and may even increase negative emotions [ 10 , 11 , 53 , 73 , 86 ]. The impact of Internet usage in this aspect would hinder interpersonal communications. No direct evidence is provided on how the Internet influences interpersonal communications. Therefore, according to theoretical analyses based on the existing literature, the net effect of Internet usage on interpersonal contacts is still unclear because of the coexistence of the complementarity and interference aspects. This research contributes to the literature by clarifying that the net effect of Internet usage on interpersonal communications is positive. The more that people use the Internet, the more they can interact with their family and friends. This positive effect is confirmed via various endogeneity and robustness checks. This paper shows that although the Internet may have both pros and cons, its overall impact is positive regarding interpersonal communication.

In addition, this paper further verifies the role of the Internet in reducing people’s loneliness, which is an important factor affecting well-being. Loneliness not only leads to depression but also reduces people’s life satisfaction and overall well-being [ 102 , 103 ]. Interpersonal interaction is an important element impacting loneliness [ 104 ]. Since Internet usage promotes communication, a natural question arises regarding whether it helps to decrease loneliness through this mechanism. If this speculation holds true, the robustness of the conclusions in this paper would be confirmed further. The existing research demonstrates that the Internet has enriched interpersonal communication channels [ 105 ]. Moreover, other studies reveal that interactions can help reduce loneliness, improve people’s well-being, and decrease depression [ 89 , 91 , 106 ]. In this paper, we present our findings that Internet usage lowers loneliness by promoting people’s communications with family and friends. Therefore, this study also contributes to the literature by elucidating the mechanisms underlying the well-being and emotional benefits of Internet use [ 107 ].

Furthermore, compared with previous studies supporting the positive effects of Internet usage [ 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 87 , 89 ], we also find heterogeneities in its impact from multiple perspectives. It is clear that not everyone gains equally from Internet use. The positive role of the Internet on interpersonal communication is more prominent for people with more frequent online socialization and wider self-presentation, better online skills, a younger age, higher educational levels, and who are living in urban areas. Some subgroups benefit more from Internet usage, while those who have been left behind in the digital age gain less. Heterogeneity analysis enriches the literature on the impact of the Internet, helping us to better identify vulnerable groups in the Internet era and create effective public policies accordingly.

9.2. Practical Implications

With the rapid progress of online technology, traditional face-to-face communication is gradually shifting toward social networking via the Internet as people are becoming immersed in the digital age. The Internet not only drives economic development but also helps people to interact with each other at a lower cost and in a more convenient way. The policy implications of this paper include the following recommendations.

First, the network infrastructure should be improved and updated to make better use of the Internet, to facilitate interpersonal communication among people. In the fast-changing world of information, the Internet has provided people with more and more convenient communication channels. We should continue to make better use of more advanced Internet technologies and improve the quality of the network, in order to enhance people’s online experience. Emerging technologies, such as 5G, should be applied to help people obtain more convenient and cheaper access to the Internet to improve their interpersonal communication and enhance social welfare.

Second, this paper reports that the Internet promotes interpersonal contact, thereby weakening people’s sense of loneliness. Therefore, establishing high-quality online communities via social networks is needed to help people enhance their well-being through further interactions. For those who suffer from loneliness, providing them with better access to the Internet may be an effective way to enhance their welfare. From the perspective of mental health, loneliness is related to an increased risk of mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and even dementia. Therefore, it is worth recommending that sufferers use the Internet to enhance their communications with others. For people with communication difficulties, online interactions can help them overcome their fear and help them to get in touch with others, thus establishing better social networks [ 90 ].

Third, policymakers should pay more attention to vulnerable subgroups in the Internet age, including older people and those with poorer online skills, those who are less well-educated, and those living in rural areas. These groups gain fewer benefits from Internet usage. Therefore, it is important to help them master the necessary online skills and provide them with more convenient and less expensive access to the Internet. For example, the network coverage should be extended to more remote and rural areas and the Internet connectivity there needs to be improved so that as many people as possible have equal access to the Internet. In addition, with the rapid development of Internet technology, individuals with lower education levels and older age may not be able to update their Internet skills. This may mean that they are unable to gain the benefits of Internet usage in terms of interpersonal communication. Therefore, in the context of the rapid application of emerging online technologies, enhancing the Internet skills of these vulnerable subgroups should be emphasized.

10. Limitations

First, since CGSS data is based on subjective answers, both the explanatory and explained variables in this paper are subjective indicators and there may, thus, be measurement errors caused by subjectivity. Although different variables are used as dependent variables in the robustness checks, confirming the positive effect of Internet usage on interpersonal interactions, these measures are also subjective. Therefore, we look forward to further testing the relationship between Internet usage and interpersonal contacts based on objective indicators in the future.

Second, as CGSS does not provide detailed information concerning the amount of time that people spend on the Internet for various purposes, we are unable to examine the effects of different types of online activities on interpersonal communications. In this regard, if people use the Internet mainly for working or for entertainment, rather than for interpersonal contacts, then online activities may well have a different effect on their communications with family members and friends. In the heterogeneity analysis, this research divided the sample into subgroups with different degrees of online social interactions and different preferences for online self-presentation. The results show that the impacts of Internet usage on communication with family and friends are only significant among those who habitually use the Internet to socialize and post updates. This indirectly examines the impact of different types of Internet usage on communications. We look forward to further investigating this issue in the future, on the basis of more detailed online data.

Third, this paper examines the impact of Internet usage on interpersonal communications in general. However, it is still not clear how Internet usage affects people’s face-to-face interactions. Due to data limitations, we are unable to directly test the quality of offline personal relationships, for example, changes in conversational topics, the willingness to broach topics discussed on the Internet, and the inclination to reveal true thoughts in a face-to-face relationship. The effects of Internet use on the quality of offline communications will be a very valuable research direction in the future.

Funding Statement

This research was funded by the Humanities and Social Science Research Project of the Ministry of Education of China (grant number 19YJC790055); the Project of the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 71973081); the Project of the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (grant number ZR2020QG038); the Project of the Social Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (grant number 19DJJJ08), and the Project of Teaching Reform of Shandong University (grant number Y2022007).

Author Contributions

C.L. contributed to the conception and design of the study and performed the statistical analysis. Y.X. generated the tables and figures, respectively, based on C.L.’s analysis. C.L. wrote the first draft of the manuscript. G.N., K.G. and Q.L. worked on revisions of the manuscript. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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