The Social Impact of the Internet on Our Society


Carmella Kedem
CAPP 385, Spring 1999


The Internet drives the hottest stocks on Wall Street, shapes technological innovation, and fills the pages of the world's presses. What does this mean for society, government, commerce, and other institutions? How will the way we live, work, learn, profit, govern, and communicate change ?

The Internet creates new ways for citizens to communicate, congregate, and share information of a social nature. It is obvious that the Internet has and will continue to change the way we live. How it is changed, and how it will continue to change our lives, is the reason for so many conferences on the topic. For example, the following is an abstract of a conference that took place:


       Harvard Design School 
       April 23-25, 1999 



       This conference flows from the premise that information technology 
       and more specifically, Internet technology are rapidly and radically 
       transforming the character of life and work. The changes driven by the
       Internet will have an enormous impact on the conduct of every aspect 
       of our society business, government, education, and private life.  
       The impact on the design and construction industry will be no less 
       dramatic.  It is imperative, therefore, that industry leaders prepare 
       themselves to evaluate opportunities and challenges they will face.

Field of Education

As the whole world of the "Information Super Highway" is in constant transition, so is the rule of the Internet on education, still being formatted, evaluated and in constant transition.

We shall discuss one such school as one example, the C.E.S Jewish Day School in Rockville Maryland. This is a private school K-12 with an objective to educate students to be good and productive American citizens, on the one hand, and leaders of the Jewish community on the other hand. About four years ago, teachers were very slowly introduced to the world of computers. Most teachers were somewhat apprehensive, afraid that with an incorrect click, the computer would "explode". How would the students learn if the teachers felt so inadequate? This is an area of great interest, as in this age of computer technology the roles are not always as traditional as in the past. It is not "here I am the teacher let me teach you something new", but rather, lets try and do this together.Let us search and and see what we can learn with the help of this new technology. The horizons of students and teachers, have become so much greater. Let us concentrate on one specific example. The Book of Exodus is studied in the fifth grade classes in Hebrew. This year with the help of the Internet a new component was added, "Ancient Egypt". With the help of the Internet and some books, the students in pairs searched the Internet for information about, The Pyramids, Egyptian Gods, Work and Games, Education, Life after Death, The Pharoes and other such topics. Searching the Internet was very interesting, as the graphics were wonderful to look at, the information most exciting. They were able to locate sites with Egyptian music too. With the help of a computer program called HyeperStudio the students were able to create a beautiful interactive project about Ancient Egypt. A topic that could be very dry and bookish, took on an exciting life of its own, with the help of the excitement that exists with the use of the of the Internet. This is one small example that tells about the independence the Internet affords students. Research can be done, in a way that is so much more exciting to most students. The students also participated in e-mailing in Hebrew with Kibbutz children in Israel. Students in other schools "talk" to authors over the Internet some residing in countries other then the U.S. The possibilities are limitless. What about comparing rain measurements by students in different countries? What about comparing projects and different experiments? The Internet can make learning so much more exciting, interesting, very engaging and very much alive. Computers have been a source of joy for children for some years now, because of the games they like to play on them. So school work, that resembles play, is much more appealing. With the vast opportunities the Internet, affords great learning with much joy. This is the reason that computers are taught from kindergarten. Some examples of "students project" can be seen on the schools website.

Field of Health Care

Transforming Medicine and Health Synergistic discoveries and instant scientific collaborations between researchers working on areas as diverse as hereditary neurologic diseases and the basic biology of microorganisms all happening thanks to the Internet. Telemedicine allows medical specialists in Boston to diagnose and treat patients in California. How will the Internet affect two aspects of "medicine, fundamental research and medical care?"

One of the impacts of the Internet on our society in the field 0f medicine, is the research capabilities it affords the general public, or the empowerment it affords patients and their families. Once the patient or his family, were afforded just one second opinion. Those that could (and still can afford it) can go to as many doctors that they deem necessary. On the whole, the general public can see one "extra" specialist. Today, with the vast knowledge presented on the "Internet" one can glean great sources of information. The patient is much better informed to discuss his case with his doctor, understand alternatives, side affects, the latest treatments available and the statistical probabilities of success.

"The National Institutes of Health" in Bethesda Maryland, afford a wonderful example of sources of up to date medical information for everyone using the Internet. This most prestigious government facility engages some of the best doctors and scientist in the world, that work in pure and clinical research in the fields of medicine. Everyone is most welcome to use their website to learn about any medical aspect that is of concern to them. Not just traditional medicine is available on N.I.H's website. In recent years when alternative solutions to medical problems were gaining much interest, N.I.H added that area of expertise to their facility, and of course on the Internet too.

The vast sea of medical information available to the public on the Internet, empowers patients and their families as they can gain so much knowledge about the newest research and treatments. One can also gain information about how certain medicle problems are treated in other parts of the world. The more traditional cures would come usually from countries in Europe, and the less traditional ones would come from counties in the East Asia.

Alternative Medicine Diabetes Natural Remedies From China It is estimated that there are over 130 million people in Asia with Diabetes, many of them use these products to control various symptoms of the disease. Now, we are pleased to introduce, for the first time to the Western World, these alternative Diabetes Medicines from China. All of the products have been developed and thoroughly tested in extensive Clinical Trials in Major Hospitals in China and used by thousands of patients since.

All the vast amount of research found on the Internet, from the private and government sectors are also available in the fields of "Mental Health"

Especially in the fields of Mental Health the ability if the individual to conduct his own research in the privacy of his is of great comfort. The Internet has many different websites that deal with the many aspects of Mental Health.There are sites that are interactive answering questions, newsgroups and mailing lists.

Field of Business

The way people conduct business has vastly changed with the wide use of the Internet. Many businesses have websites that allow people to conduct business "on line". This is a field that all experts say will grow and advance greatly in the years to come, not just in the United States but in other countries around the world too. "Books and C.D's" are bought mainly through Amazon, a virtual book and music store with no stores, just am excellent website, and large warehouses.
According to Professor Walter Solomon who is a world renowned consultant (commerce) and a professor at Harvard University in the year 2000 Internet sales will be 6.5 billion dollars, although only 34% of Internet users actually conduct business "on line, 76% of web surfers say they will "e-trade" in the future. According to Solomon those that will not sell airline tickets, home banking and tourism "on line" will be at a disadvantage. Other items that sell well over the Internet are computers. Dell computers sell over the Internet at a rate of $10.000.000 a day, with little expense. Tourism and leisure do well over the Internet.

Many people use the inter-net to get information before making a purchase. This is a way that the consumer learns much about his next purchase, before he actually goes out to purchase. Half the fun people say, is planning one's vacation. One sits comfortably in his home and surfs the web for interesting places to visit, what can be done in those places, and then which company offers the best deals or prices. The potential tourist has the world to surf through with the help of the "mouse".

Different types of cruises are offered over the Internet, for different kind of interests, ages, destinations and and affordability.


From all the above we can see that the Internet is a whole new world emerging at the conclusion of the 20th century. Everyday, the Internet expands by the social, political, and economic activities of people all over the world, and its impact growth exponentially. Some of this growth in impact has been described here. In this new world there is no geographical separation and there are no borders, and all people are encouraged to participate and contribute drawing on their experiences and resources. In cyberspace actions and reactions are essentially instantaneous, and this is why the Internet is so gratifying and attractive. This is why it has impacted our society in almost all areas of human endeavor. In this report we touched on the positive aspects of the influence of the Internet on our society. As in any other field in life there are the negative aspects too. In the field of education children can gain access to areas that are not suitable and dangerous, (Littleton Colorado, April 1999).
In the wake of

The Littleton shooting,
Vice President Gore announces
an Internet safety plan
designed to protect children.

In the areas of business, security is of great concern and importance. The topic of "Fire walls" is in great demand, constantly evolving expanding and changing. In the health care area, the accuracy of what is available to read over the Internet is a topic of concern. The whole new industry of purchasing drugs "on line" is another area where care and prudence are imperative. All in all, the Internet is affecting so many peoples' lives, in a most welcome, exciting and challenging ways.