To understand where and how it benefits users and the world we need first to define what is internet. The internet then is defined as an interconnection of millions of computers or devices connected to communicate and share resources and information. It is a big network made up of many smaller networks. It is made by combining many LAN, MAN, and WAN networking to create one big global network.
Today internet is used in all imaginable sectors of our lives, including education, health, crime control, socialization, business, and many others. Its main benefits include reduced cost of communication and increased speed of the same. However, it has made many users mostly youth to be addicted to technology.
Application areas of the internet
The Internet has become integrated with our life and daily activity that most people cannot spend a few hours without using it. The question we should be asking is not where it is used but where it’s not being used. Simply because the internet is used in every aspect of human life. Some of the most common areas the internet is used are as follows.
1. Online Banking
Online banking has become a trend in today’s banking industry. By offering services online, customers can access the services from any location and at any time. Online banking has an easy way of doing business and has reduced costs compared to over-the-counter services.
The main challenge of online banking fraud. If customer details like username and password are weak or leaked then the money can be stolen very fast. Again people want to feel real money other than just electronic cash.
2. Use of the internet in industries
Industries are using the internet to research new products and designs. They can also share ideas with partners or their subsidiaries that are in different locations in the world. After production, they also carry out marketing of their product on the internet. Many companies are using the internet to get customer views on the next product that they like introduced into the market.
3. Internet for online learning in educational institutions
Learning institutions are among the main consumer of the internet today. By adopting e-learning trainers and learners can post and access learning materials. With COVID-19 most institutions moved completely to online learning which included even online assessment. Today some university offers a fully online course. There are many platforms that the institute can use to facilitate online learning. This includes Moodle, Google classroom, zoom, and Microsoft teams among others.
4. Governments functions and operations
Most of the world’s governments are providing information that is within the public domain to their websites so that the respective citizens and the world at large can be able to access it. The documents can be government policies, law interpretation, and all manner of materials.
Most government services can be accessed over the internet. They include; tax remittance, government procurement, car park charges, and renewal of documents like licenses among many other services that the government may be offering to its citizens.
5. Application of the internet in the agriculture sector
The Internet has enabled new entries in the agriculture sector to seek information from experienced agriculture officers. Today we have online services that link the small-scale farmer directly to the consumer of the product. This removes the brokers who exploit farmers. There are also online communities where farmers can share ideas, challenges, and views on different interests in agriculture.
Farmer can also monitor their crops and farms using the latest technologies that send data from the farm to the farmer’s smartphone in real-time. This help farmer makes informed decision faster.
6. Use of the internet in the tourism industry
The Internet is used to promote tourism by marketing the industries online. The advertisement can be for different hotels, historical sites, game parks, beaches, and all other related tourism industries. Hotels can also offer online booking of hotel rooms among other services. Videos of hotels, tourism sites, and beaches can be uploaded online for online users who can then turn into customers. Companies can revenge on the latest technology such as virtual reality to offer a sample of services that they offer.
Advantages and disadvantages of the internet
The internet like any other technology has both positive and negative impacts on human life and the environment. The Internet has both its advantages and disadvantages that we discuss next.
Advantages of internet
1. Fast communication
The Internet offers a cheap, fast, and effective mode of communication from one location to another. It offers many services that help to communicate such as Email, web, video, voice over the internet, and text communications. These services it has made communication cheap, fast, and more effective than the older modes of communication (postal and landline telephone).
2. Sharing of files and document
Another advantage of the internet is the sharing of files and documents. Users can share all multimedia material, from video, audio, images, text, animations, and all other graphics over the internet.
The documents can be shared from a central server or they can be stored on many client computers where users can download from i.e. torrent files. This method of sharing reduces the cost of acquiring expensive computer servers and it also decentralizes data management.
3. Sharing resources like printers and storage space
Other than sharing data users can share physical resources such as printers, storage space, and processing power. Using the internet, network users can print documents from wherever they are as long as they are within the same network (mostly LAN).
Storage space is shared on the internet by the user who stores their file and document on computers all over the world. Cloud computing technology offers among many other services, storage services. This allows the user to store data online (cloud) and they can access it anytime from anywhere as long as they have internet.
On the processing, the user can use distributed computing where data can be processed by many computer processors located in different locations. This is implemented in blockchain technology.
4. Create virtual communities
The Internet has brought about virtual communities where people met online (over the internet) but they have never met physically. With the facilitation of social media, users can have friends from any corner of the globe and they can share ideas and their lives and experiences.
It also has enabled the creation of professional communities where group members discuss topics that relate to their profession i.e.LinkedIn. Any group of people who can create a group that shares ideas and can start sharing.
5. Business operations
Companies are moving their business operation to cyberspace because of the reduced cost of operation. The services can also be accessed by virtually everybody in the world if they have internet access. By use of technology like cloud computing organizations can also reduce the maintenance, and purchase cost of both hardware and software by outsources. Services such as SAAS can help businesses to reduce operational costs.
6. Global village: Removing location barriers and boundaries.
Global connectivity has removed the boundaries that are in the physical world. Today when an event happens in any corner of the world it can be viewed online in real-time. This makes the world becomes a small space in terms of communication and news. The social media platform has become the new broadcasting room of the modern world.
Today the internet offers all kinds of entertainment. We have online games, youtube, and TikTok video that offers millions of viewing hours of video among many other entertainment categories. Every minute their new entertainment content is uploaded to the internet.
8. Unlimited information flow
We live in a digital age where information is available to all who are connected to the internet. Today if you need to know about any type of information just visit any search engine and ask your question. Information is so much that users should now know how to filter what is relevant and correct content.
Disadvantages of the internet
1. Addiction to the internet as technology
Many people spent more time online compared to a few years back. Social media has made the situation even worse since people are always online. This has brought about the term FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. Where when a user is not online they feel like they’re missing a lot of what is going on. This lead to addiction to technology.
2. Adopting bad cultures from other communities
Another major disadvantage of the internet is that it makes the world a global village and people can learn about other people’s cultures, religions, and beliefs. Sometimes users can copy and adopt what they see on the internet or learn without questioning why those people do what they do. This leads to moral corruption which degrades values in the community.
3. Privacy violation
With the internet governments, organizations and individuals can be able to spy on other people’s issues and what they are doing online. This violates the right to privacy which is a human right. Users should only post content that is not private. They should remember the saying that the internet never forgets.
4. Data security issues
Data stored over the network generally are more vulnerable to hackers and other data security issues. All necessary measures should be put in place to ensure that only relevant information can be accessed by the public and all others should be accessed by only authorized users.
5. Over-dependent on technology
The Internet is becoming like electrical power, without it we cannot function. We may not have reached that level yet but think about when everything will be fully operated over the internet and then it goes down.
It means no more operation for that organization for the period the internet is down. Some aspect of this is displayed when companies that operate over the internet want to carry out major updates to the system, all online services are withdrawn for that period until all updates are done.
Another disadvantage of the internet is it exposes private and confidential data to hackers and other criminals. These criminals steal using computers and internet connections. Companies and governments should invest heavily in cyber security to ensure data is safe and secure.
7. Spread of fake news and propaganda
If you want the information to trend and reach a large audience then use social media. This can be exploited to spread wrong information to manipulate the community. It is always encouraged not to forward information that you are not sure of its source. Especially if information may impact others negatively.
8. Health issues
Imagine you spend the whole day or even 5 hours glued to your smartphone or the computer. This can lead to several health issues. First, the blue light from these gadgets will affect your eyesight. Sitting for long without moving affects body joints and posture.
Basic requirements for Internet connection
For a user to be able to access the internet they require a device that is capable of connecting to the internet by supporting all the required protocols. It can be a computer, a mobile phone, digital TV, or any other device with capabilities to support internet access. Most devices today have internet connection capabilities which help to create the internet of things (IoT) for the future.
2. Internet Service Provider (ISP)
ISP is another requirement for internet connectivity. This is a company or an organization that is facilitating the connection of your device to other devices in the world. They provide internet connectivity infrastructure to connect the different networks to create the internet. ISPs range from global providers, those that connect the different continents to local providers who connect users to the infrastructure of the global interconnection. You can check who are the local internet service providers within your county here.
3. Internet Browser/Software
This is the software that will be used to connect your device to the server computer where the information that you are accessing is stored. It is used to request the resource to the server and offers methods and techniques on how to display it. You can read more details about internet browsers. There are many examples of web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft edge, safari, and Opera among others.
It is a device that is used to convert a digital signal to analog so that it can be transmitted over cable as electrical signals and convert analog back to digital at the receiving end. The latest devices have this capability inbuilt hence they don’t require a separate modem to help connect