It is You Who Decides

The Internet is like a “knife” which is either used to help us cut the food we are going to eat or to kill someone and go to jail. It is like any other tool that can be used to our advantage or disadvantage. There is a common thinking among most Internet users that says, “It is under my control”; but in reality this is not the case. Once we enter a chat room, open a website or download a program the control is shared by both sides. It is not only we who are in full control of the situation; the other side also shares with us this control.

Undoubtedly, the Internet can be a useful tool in education, entertainment, and relationship building.

Using the Internet for educational purposes can help us in getting information within a short period of time and gaining knowledge easily. Today, there are even online schools and universities who can grant certificates and degrees, but in this case we should be careful whether this online academic institution is accredited or not.

By the same token, the Internet can entertain us through the websites which contain music (songs and video clips) and games. We can download the type of the music and game we want and enjoy our time listening and playing. However, we should be careful of viruses and spywares that most probably will invade our computers while downloading unverified programs.

Nowadays chat rooms and matchmaking sites play a great role in building friendships and relationships among people. We can have lots of friends from all over the world and get familiar to their culture without even traveling. Also, we can have a boyfriend / girlfriend just by chatting with him/her. In fact, there are a lot of couples who have met their spouses through the net.

According to psychologists and statisticians, disadvantages of Internet misuse outweigh its advantages. For example, in 2003 there were only 1.5 million pornography websites available to anyone who went online, whereas in 2007 the number of pornography websites increased to 4 million sites. Psychologists say that most people use the Internet in order to gratify their sexual desires and fantasies. This issue becomes more serious when children and teenagers come across these sites and get hooked on it. They start with simple nude pictures and end up performing what they watched on the net.

This is not the only reason that we should be careful about the tremendous availability of porn on the net. According to psychologist M. Douglas Reed, watching pornography has a profound effect on the human brain which secretes a drug-like hormone that has the ability to make the brain get addicted to pornography. Moreover, watching porn makes the person violent and anti-social. He begins to disrespect his sex partner or spouse because for him sex becomes an act to gratify his sexual desires and not a complement of mutual relationship.

Beside porn sites, there are violent sites that post violent acts performed by soldiers, suicide bombers, adventurous people, and others. Frequent watchers of such sites will consciously or subconsciously try to act out the violence that they have seen or at least will become desensitized towards others people’s suffering and pain.
As for the chat rooms, we don’t know what kind of people we are chatting with. The chatter might be a very nice, decent, and “cool” person or he might be a sick psychopath who can be a serial killer. Hence, it is essential to be careful and think twice before taking the risk of meeting that “total stranger” in real.

Obviously we should not underestimate the power that the Internet has upon us. Undoubtedly, being aware of this power will help us take our precautions, prevent lots of troubles, and benefit from the advantages that the Internet offers us.

By Manoug Ibitian
-School Counselor-Armenian Evangelical P. & E. Torosian Int. School