The Unexpected Effects Of Surfing

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In a world that is so dependent on technology, it is no wonder that the Internet has had such a tremendous impact on our lives. Since its creation in the 1960's for military communication purposes the Internet has developed remarkably and its uses have extended into the homes of everyday families. A vast electronic gathering place for hundreds of thousands of people, the Internet is not exactly easy to regulate. The impact of such technology is immense. Everyday people "surf the Net" in isolation and anonymity using their own computers, typing whatever they want, and coming in contact with a variety of activities, writing, and pictures. With the growing use of the Internet and its vast accessibility, it poses the question of whether or not to restrict and regulate the Internet. The unexpected impact and controversy that surrounds the Internet continues to grow, as such technology becomes more widespread throughout our society.

The Internet allows any group or individual to reach millions of people at any given time. The low cost of establishing websites enables such people to spread their thoughts, views, and ideals, amongst other things, across the nation. "Whether a neo-nazi, a pornographer, or a member of an antigovernment militia, anyone can voice his or her beliefs over the Internet." (Ginsberg, 169). As a result, many members of society are concerned for the well-being of the public, children in particular. A recent event at a school in Colorado in which two teenagers shot and killed other classmates for no apparent reason has sparked much controversy with regards to the Internet. The question arises as to whether or not children are influenced by certain materials that may be found on the Internet. In particular, sites devoted to bomb making, violence, and promoting hate may be easily accessed with the right computer skills. Therefore, many concerns surround the issue of the Internet and its effects on children.

Another major concern that many people have about the Internet is over the rise in "cyberporn," or pornography found on the Internet. Those people who oppose that type of expression are primarily concerned about the easy access children have to the Internet and advocate the banning of such activity. Unexpectedly, Internet technology has made it virtually impossible to distinguish the line between free speech and regulated free speech. Since the Internet is so widespread and is easily assessed by millions of both adults and children each day, it seems hopeless that regulation will be possible. According the previous Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, law to regulate the Internet ""¦is clearly a violation of free speech, and it's a violation of the rights of adults to communicate with each other." (Ginsberg, 167). All citizens have a right to freedom of expression and, therefore, to restrict or ban cyberporn, or any other "obscene material", is a hindrance upon a citizen's freedom. Therefore, it is not difficult to see why there is so much controversy surrounding the Internet today.

It is obviously necessary to create community standards of decency within this cyber community; but, it is also necessary to preserve freedom of expression as is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. As technology progresses, costs decline, and computer literacy grows, electronic communications will certainly continue to assert an even greater role in people's lives. Since the development of Internet technology an unexpected challenge has emerged. The members of this type of community must face the challenge of how to regulate it and maintain a balance of freedom and control. A change in technology results in a change in the lives of those that are immersed by it. The extent to which the Internet would impact the lives of the people was obviously unexpected considering the many questions and concerns that now surround it.