THE BLOG

The Internet: Friend or Foe?

11/02/2015 10:41 GMT | Updated 10/04/2015 10:59 BST

The glorious World Wide Web, oh how I love thee. Thank you for always providing me with the latest news and stories from across the globe. Thank you for allowing me to stay in contact with friends in far away places. Thank you for keeping me up to date with the latest fashion trends and styles. But most of all, thanks for being a great mate.

Wait... what? Did I just refer to the Internet as a mate? A friend? A pal? Hold the iPhone... something is definitely not right here.

When you hear the word connection, does your mind automatically start thinking about your Internet connection? According to trusty Google (oops, or should I say the dictionary?), the definition of connection is a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.

Am I in a relationship with the Internet? Are we all in a relationship with the Internet? What has our society become, that we spend more time with the World Wide Web than our friends or family?

In a poll conducted at my university last year, it was found that my classmates spent on average, 4 hours a day browsing the Internet and interacting on social media. That's 28 hours per week and 1,456 hours a year. Wowzer! That's a whole lot of time spent wired in to the technological galaxy.

87,360 minutes a year that could be spent doing more beneficial things like, going to visit your grandparents, building deeper relationships with friends or volunteering your time at a soup kitchen. I don't really know how we got here, but what I do know is that at some point things have got to change.

The hours spent on the Internet are pretty frightening statistics for mature adult brains, but just imagine what the excessive Internet interaction could be doing to the developing brains of children. From a very young age, 00's children have been thrown in front of the television, handed an iPad or iPhone in order to occupy time. Argh! I grew up in the 90's where free time was spent playing hopscotch, board games, hide and seek and jump rope (with occasional time spent with my beloved Tamagotchi). I feel as though we are single-handedly destroying our children's ability to connect with others. And I don't mean connect via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but rather form real life long relationships.

I only started becoming aware of how this may be impacting the youngsters a few years back. I was at the football (AFL) with an 8-year-old boy, sitting in the grand stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, when he turned to me and asked, is this live? Through no fault of his own, his brain's default position was to see the world through a screen. I almost fell out of my chair, rolled down the stairs and landed in the middle of the field. Are children so used to being behind a screen that they have lost touch with reality? Is there now a blur between what is real and what is fake? Do we need to explain to children brought up in this brave new world, that what we see with our own eyes is the world without filtering, pre-recording and is not altered to look perfect or different?

These questions lead me back to the concept of connection. Don't get me wrong; I believe the Internet is a marvellous tool that helps to educate and inform society of the goings on of the world. But unfortunately, it seems to be slowly destroying our ability to properly connect with others. Not to mention the fact that it is warping children's ability to decipher between the digital world and the real world. As a society, I feel it is our duty to start reconnecting ourselves with real life interactions, so that our children and children's children will still have the opportunity to form strong, deep and loving relationships with others.

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