The internet is a technological innovation that brings a lot of advantages and disadvantages to society because of how much it facilitates fast, easy communication.
Benefits include access to information, broader social circles, and convenience with meeting needs for work and home.
But digital media can be harmful when they damage the health of users or isolates people. As a result, parents often put limitations on internet use for children to help them get the benefits while minimizing the harms of internet usage.
Pros and Cons of the Internet
Pro 1: Ease of Communication
Almost every internet user uses it for communication in one form or another. For some, it is their primary way of communicating with people.
But even those who still prefer traditional methods like phone calls or letters in the post will have to deal with a business by email or live chat at some point.
The internet revolutionized methods of communication, including those that were once just science fiction, like video calling and conferencing.
Even types of communication that seem crude to us now, like web forums, were a huge game changer when they were first introduced.
Pro 2: Unrestricted Social Circles
Before the internet, a person’s social group was almost exclusively limited to people who lived in their geographic proximity.
Pen friends and long-distance relationships existed, but letters take days to get through the post and international telephone calls were very expensive.
One of the pros of social media on the internet is that people are now able to connect with others who share the personal identities, same interests, hobbies, passions, and quirks wherever they are in the world.
You can even use instant online translators to have conversations with people with whom you do not share a language.
Pro 3: Global Collaboration
The ability to reach like minds anywhere in the world through the internet is not just limited to social use.
This global infrastructure also allows people to collaborate with anyone anywhere on the planet.
These collaborations can be professional or amateur and can range from the academic to the creative.
Many scientific journals will post studies done jointly by universities thousands of miles apart, and YouTube is full of virtual bands with each member recording their part in their own home or local studio and putting it all together online.
Pro 4: New Careers
The internet is both so expansive and so unlike anything that has come before it, that it has created multiple whole new industries of jobs.
These include jobs that are directly connected to how it works, like web developers and designers, but also jobs with an indirect link, such as e-commerce and digital marketing.
But even old jobs are online now – you can even teach online!
In creating these jobs, the internet stimulates the economy and reduces unemployment. The fact that these jobs can be done from anywhere in the world also means that it improves the situation in less powerful economies without any barriers.
Pro 5: Improvements to Existing Careers
The internet does not only help the job market by creating new jobs. It also makes existing jobs easier and more convenient to do, as well as more effective.
During 2020, for example, the internet made it possible for many people to continue doing their jobs from home rather than simply losing them.
As working from home becomes more standard, the internet will become an even more integral part of employment.
Pro 6: Convenience
A lot of the daily chores of life are made so much more convenient through the use of the internet.
Paying bills by going to the provider’s website and clicking a few buttons is much easier than going to the bank every month.
The same can be said for doing your shopping online and getting it delivered instead of traveling from store to store.
These little conveniences make a difference because they are unavoidable tasks, but by doing them through the internet, you save so much time that would otherwise have been lost.
Pro 7: Access to Essential Services
It’s not just the daily chores that the internet makes easier, but also some essentials.
Using public services is more convenient when you can do so on the appropriate website rather than go to or ring up a government office.
Another example is education, which the internet played a critical role in allowing to continue when schools were shut down in some places in 2020/2021.
Pro 8: Huge Range of Entertainment
The internet has allowed people to access entertainment with a breadth and convenience that has not been seen before.
This covers everything from movies to music to video games.
Whereas before, you would have to go to a theater or a video store to watch a new movie on your own time, now you can stream it.
Instead of having to go out and buy a new video game on a DVD from a brick and mortar store, you can now download it.
Pro 9: Creative Outlet
In addition to allowing people to enjoy others’ creative efforts, the internet is also a great platform for people to express their own creativity.
Through the combination of a global infrastructure and a catalog of sites for creative endeavors, individuals can upload and share anything that they create and express themselves to an audience that they would not have access to in their local community.
Pro 10: One Global Repository for Information
The internet offers access to the largest quantity of information possible. It does this because it is not itself a true repository, but rather it allows access to any source of information that is online.
Books that have been digitized are available on the internet, and you can access these regardless of where you are in the world.
Whether your local library stocks a specific book or not is no longer an issue.
The internet also allows people to share information with others, either through large encyclopedia sites like Wikipedia or through non-mainstream investigative journalism.
Pro 11: Free Information
From the blog post you’re currently reading to Wikipedia and YouTube, the internet is full of free information.
No other generation in the history of the world has had so much access to free information at their fingertips.
This has made it possible to learn skills that help them get jobs, make money, learn a language, or anything else of interest without having to pay for an expensive course.
Con 1: People Trying to Con You
While the internet is a disruptive technology, these disruptions can cause social problems. One of the biggest threats coming from the internet is people who want your money and will take it through nefarious means.
People who are less familiar with how the internet works are especially vulnerable to this because they are often less able to spot bad actors as it is about to happen or even after it has happened.
This might be as simple as opening the wrong type of email that will end up getting you caught up in a huge mess. Using high quality security software is a must!
Con 2: Losses of Privacy
Privacy concerns are linked to the above example. People can take your identity online and use it in harmful or unauthorized ways.
Although governments have started making laws to regulate this, internet-based companies are still infamous for taking user information and giving it to marketers.
This has historically been done without the consent of unwitting users and continues to be done so still to a lesser extent.
Social media has also been a way that individuals’ privacy has deteriorated.
Con 3: Conflict
The internet is an open forum that allows anyone to engage with anyone on a global scale.
While this is incredible for fostering wanted communications, it creates a very easy opportunity for unwanted communications.
Before the internet, people had to look each other in the eyes to say what they thought. This meant there was both a public pressure against it and a way to control it. But through the internet, this is not so.
This is especially true when the social media user is anonymous, which means they have no direct disincentive.
Con 4: Social Isolation
When people spend too much time on the internet, it can increase feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
The internet makes it very easy for this condition to appear because a lot of people may feel like their needs for social interaction are being met through social media and similar services.
When this decreases the amount of time they spend with friends and family outside of the internet, it can be unhealthy.
Con 5: Overuse and Dependence
Meeting social needs is not the only reason why people become dependent on the internet.
The convenience it offers in so many aspects of life may make people rely on it for many tasks, even the simplest ones.
Someone who is very used to doing all of their shopping online, for example, may find it difficult to adapt if they can no longer use the internet for this.
How long could you live without internet?
Con 6: Internet Addiction
Overdependence on the internet can even progress into full-blown addiction.
In cases of internet addiction, even mild ones, people will spend time on the internet without doing anything productive and without even enjoying it.
Cyberloafing is a common manifestation of internet addiction.
In addition to the negative influence this can have on a person directly, it can also decrease productivity, which, over a large scale, can harm entire economies.
Con 7: Deterioration of Health
People who spend too much time on the internet, even if it is for legitimate and positive reasons, can begin to develop certain health problems.
When all of a person’s work and most of their leisure time is online, this can promote a very sedentary lifestyle.
The lack of physical activity can have serious consequences if it is not made up for in some other way, like with exercise, for example.
Con 8: Fake News and Other Misinformation
Because the internet is largely decentralized, there is little to no quality control on what information is put on it (in other words, there is no gatekeeper).
This means that with anyone able to say anything, information that is untrue, incomplete, or misrepresented can spread very quickly and very widely.
Today, we see people who have become highly radicalized, indoctrinated, and manipulated into believing nonsense and conspiracies spread online.
To address this, we all need to ensure we have very good media literacy skills.
Con 9: Public Distrust
As people become more used to the amount of false information that is on new media on the internet, they may begin to lose trust in any information that is presented.
Although a degree of skepticism in life can be healthy, it can be damaging to a society when it develops to a point where too many people do not trust those around them.
This includes not just large institutions but also their friends and family.
Con 10: New Stratification of Society
All of the benefits that the internet brings can themselves create a negative effect when they are only possible for some people but not for others.
This creates a new sort of stratification in society, dividing those that are able to use the internet well and those that are not. We call this the ‘digital divide’.
Although this has historically affected poorer regions with less capable infrastructure, it can also be seen within communities.
Elderly people, for example, may be negatively affected by the internet when it becomes the only way that they can pay a bill or order something that they need.
Table Summary – Internet Advantages and Disadvantages
|Advantages of the Internet||Disadvantages of the Internet|
|1. It provides ease of communication||1. People may rrying to con you online|
|2. You can access a wide range of social circles||2. Your privacy is compromised online|
|3. You can collaborate globally||3. There is a lot of conflict in online spaces|
|4. It has opened up a lot of new career options||4. It can lead to less face-to-face communication|
|5. It has made existing careers easier||5. Society is over-dependant on it|
|6. It is extremely convenient||6. Some people can get addicted|
|7. It helps people to access essential services||7. Your health may deteriorate due to less exercise|
|8. It provides entertainment access||8. It enables the spread of fake news|
|9. The internet is a creative outlet||9. There is rising public distrust of online information|
|10. It is a global repository for information||10. It causes a ‘digital divide’|
|11. It is a source of free information|
We have looked at 20 pros cons of the internet and learned why as vast as it is, it will always have a positive side and a negative one. As the internet evolves and AI continues to take hold on the web, we’ll learn about more positives and negatives of the internet for our lives.