The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has kept people around the world inside their homes. Many countries observe quarantine protocols as part of the global effort to stop the spread of the virus. Staying at home has become a social duty during this challenging time. In search of productivity and entertainment, people turn to the Internet.
In her book, The Cyber Effect, cyberpsychologist Dr. Mary Aiken, PhD, says, “If you have a problem with technology, perhaps you’re not addicted, just cyber maladapted. And the good news: There are things you can do about that.” Indeed, while the Internet helps ease our burdens during this pandemic, we must observe great caution in its usage. Failure to do so can be damaging to our mental health and overall well-being.
To effectively manage Internet exposure during a public health crisis, it is essential to know its pros and cons.
Benefits Of Internet Exposure During Quarantine
1. Facilitates Communication Of Families And Friends
Family members who failed to come home due to lockdown protocols seek comfort and support through online communication. The Internet has helped maintain relationships amid restrictions on mobility and physical contact.
2. Keeps People Informed
The Internet has made information more accessible to a large population. It enables us to acquire and disseminate essential information about the pandemic. Having access to the Internet helps increase and improve the health literacy of people on COVID-19. Further, it aids government bodies in formulating and implementing policies to combat the virus.
3. Provides An Alternative Platform For Education
As a result of limited mobility, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom globally. To ensure continuous learning among students, educational institutions have resorted to e-learning. Teachers conduct their lectures and class activities on digital platforms.
4. Makes Productivity Possible During The Quarantine
The Internet provides ways on how to remain productive amid the pandemic. Entrepreneurs and professionals utilize online platforms for the continuation of their ventures. The Internet also offers numerous online activities that may serve as alternative sources of income.
5. Helps Improve Mental Health
The Internet serves as a reliable source of entertainment by offering various opportunities and platforms where people can watch movies, play games, and interact with people online. Apart from that, there are also reliable online therapies that can help those who are struggling with mental illnesses while unable to go to their usual sessions due to the pandemic.
Dangers Of Excessive Internet Exposure
1. May Put Our Privacy And Security At Risk
Cybersecurity risks rise as more people resort to digital platforms for their day-to-day transactions. Internet scammers take advantage of the crisis through different fraudulent schemes. Exposure to the Internet increases data and privacy risks among vulnerable populations.
2. May Reduce Personal Socialization
The Internet significantly influences our socialization process. It alters social dynamics, especially among families. People spend more time on their gadgets than on personal interactions. Unregulated use of the Internet may result in addiction, which can severely affect our personality and relationships.
3. An Avenue For Misinformation
Most social media counseling experts believe that the Internet has become a tool for the perpetuation of false information. Many websites and social media platforms contain fake news and data. If you are not vigilant enough, you can easily fall into the trap of distorted information. Misinformation can have detrimental consequences, especially at a time of public health crisis.
4. May Adversely Affect Mental Health
With the rise of freedom of expression online, people can almost always post anything on social media. The Internet can sometimes be a source of hate speech and other negative emotions. It also facilitates the spread of inappropriate content. The tolerant use of these platforms can lead to feelings of depression and dependency.
Internet activity has dramatically increased since the implementation of quarantine measures in different parts of the world. People of all ages rely on the Internet for information, entertainment, and communication. The Internet also provides various online activities that facilitate productivity at home. However, excessive usage of the Internet can have adverse impacts on our security and well-being; hence, the need to take precautions.
Internet exposure during a public health crisis is a double-edged sword. It can produce both positive and negative consequences. Knowing the pros and cons of Internet exposure is a step towards effectively adapting to our new normal.