What is the Internet?
The Internet is an enormous network of networks, an interconnected web made up of millions of computers that can share information. The ancestor of the Internet began as a U.S. government project launched during the Cold War. However, the Internet as we know it now has only been around since the early nineties.
Many people use the terms Internet and World Wide Web interchangeably. This is OK for everyday conversation, but technically, it isn't correct to do so. The World Wide Web, a collection of interconnected hypertext documents, is only a part of the larger and older Internet.
A Tool for Good
The Internet has improved the lives of millions in countless ways. Online communication like email and blogs can help families and friends stay connected. E-commerce has created a whole new facet of the world economy. Genealogical research can be done more accurately and efficiently than ever before. Volumes and volumes of information about anything from Glasgow to gumballs are at your fingertips when you sit at the computer. Truly, the Internet can be a tremendous force for good!
A Tool for Evil
While the Internet can be a positive and useful thing, it has an ugly flipside. The Internet allows sexual predators, identity thieves, and other unsavory characters to lurk in the shadows of anonymity. Obscene images of violence, cruelty, adult content and child pornography are easy to find--and often find you whether you want them to or not. With the click of a mouse, pranksters and bullies alike can publish untrue, unkind, and humiliating information about you for millions of viewers to read. Opening an innocent-looking email attachment may be all it takes to give your computer a serious virus that will cause it to completely crash.
Yikes! That's enough to make most of us want to shut off our computers for good and re-embrace the Dark Ages. However, there is no need to be afraid of all these dangers if you know how to protect yourself from them.
Tips for Internet Safety
- Place your computer in an open-access area at home.
- Talk with your children about the Internet.
- Bookmark child-friendly sites.
- Teach your children to avoid giving out personal information.
- Check your browser history routinely.
- Know the parents of your children’s friends.
- Ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about filtering methods to block inappropriate information before it gets to your home.
- Share your learning with others.
Where Can I Learn More?
Watch this video for a quick overview of Internet history.