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[43] 26 mei 2020: Potentially negative effects of Internet use

Inleiding en context

Vandaag een mooie zogenaamde ´ In-Depth Aalysis´ over de potentiële negatieve effecten / invloed van (overmatig) gebruik van het Internet voor gebruikers en maatschappij. Deze analyse is vervaardigd door de denktank van het Europees Parlement: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

Het loont zeer de moeite om de site van deze denktank regelmatig te raadplegen. Op veel relevante beleidsonderwerpen die direct met het werk van Justitie & Veiligheid te maken hebben vervaardigen zij verschillende producten. Van fact sheets tot korte briefings, van infographics tot gedegen studies en diepgaande analyses. Altijd zeer recent, goed geschreven en beleidsrelevant. Een gedegen Europees kenniscentrum dus, ook voor Justitie en Veiligheid en de daaraan gelieerde organisaties.

Vandaag dus een wat diepgaande analyse over potentiële negatieve effecten voor gebruikers van het Internet. Steeds vaker wordt erkend dat Internet, ondanks de vele positieve opbrengsten, ook significante persoonlijke en maatschappelijke schade kan veroorzaken. Sommige van deze schadelijke gevolgen zijn diepgaand bestudeerd, zoals invloed op privacy, op veiligheid en slachtofferschap, en op misbruik van allerlei aan het Internet verbonden (hulp)middelen. Bijgesloten rapport gaat in op een aantal fenomenen waarover minder kennis voorhanden over is, maar die zeker wel omvangrijke persoonlijke en maatschappelijke schade kunnen veroorzaken.  

Bron

Quaglio, Gianluca & Sophie Millar (May 2020). Potentially negative effects of Internet use. Brussels: European Union, European Parliamentary Research Service.https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2020/641540/EPRS_IDA(2020)641540_EN.pdf

Samenvatting

The internet has received increasingly negative media coverage in recent years. Numerous articles have reported on major privacy scandals and security breaches, the proliferation of fake news, harmful behaviours such as cyber-bullying, cyber-theft, revenge porn and internet addiction, as well as the negative effects that the internet can have on social relationships and social cohesion.

Although the social and economic benefits of the internet are undeniable, the way in which the internet has developed has also been detrimental to a number of core European values such as equality, respect for human rights and democracy. Due to this, technology companies are coming under increasing pressure to mitigate the harmful effects of the internet, whilst politicians and opinion leaders are advocating drastic measures to reverse such impacts.

This paper presents a summary and an update of some key findings of the two-part STOA study entitled ‘Harmful internet use’. It does not cover all potential societal harms relating to the internet, which include – amongst others – negative impacts on privacy, harm related to cybersecurity and cybercrime, negative effects on knowledge and beliefs and negative effects on democracy and democratic citizenship.

Categories analysed in this report

  • Internet addiction and problematic internet use

A lack of control over one’s internet consumption can lead to a decrease in physical and psychological wellbeing, with associated symptoms such as distress, anger, loss of control, social withdrawal, familial conflicts and others pushing people towards isolation. Populations with co-morbid psychiatric symptoms are at a greater risk of suffering from internet addiction, whilst cultural issues or use for media purposes can significantly contribute to the experience and severity of internet addiction.

  • Negative effects on cognitive development

There is evidence to suggest that children’s cognitive development can be damaged by prolonged internet use, including the development of memory skills, attention span, abilities for critical reasoning, language acquisition, reading and learning. However, more research is needed to draw conclusions.

  • Information overload

Having too much information can make it difficult to adequately understand an issue or to make effective decisions. Information overload is associated with loss of control, feelings of being overwhelmed, reduced intellectual performance and diminished job satisfaction.

  • Impaired public/private boundaries

The way in which the internet and smartphones blur the distinction between different spheres of life – such as work and home – harms the boundaries between people’s public and private lives. Negative effects that can result from such permeations include lower quality of life, lack of privacy, decreased safety and security and negative impacts on social relationships. Another negative effect can be when friends and family members feel that they are left behind by new technology.

  • Damage to social relationships and communities

Extensive internet use is correlated with loneliness and social isolation. Intimate relationships can be damaged by internet use, particularly due to viewing online pornography. Malicious online behaviour, such as cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking and online predation, affects a significant percentage of internet users. Many offline communities suffer from the partial migration of human activities – such as shopping, commerce, socialising, leisure activities or professional interactions – to the internet. Online communities sometimes extend and add value to offline communities, whereas at other times they replace them. In some cases, they are inadequate replacements as they do not possess some of the most valued qualities of offline communities. Online communities may consequently suffer from impoverished communication, incivility and a lack of trust and commitment.

Policy options

The study identifies a number of broad policy options for preventing and mitigating the negative effects of internet use. These include:

Theme 1: Prevention and health promotion – reducing risk and harm

Policy option 1. Initiate information and prevention campaigns.

Policy option 2. Increase education regarding internet use and its consequences.

Policy option 3. Stimulate employers to develop policies that protect workers against harmful work-related internet use.

Theme 2: Providing support services

Policy option 4. Strengthen the health and social services’ support available for internet users that engage in harmful use.

Policy option 5. Support communities and networks affected by individual online users.

Theme 3: Governmental actions at EU and national level

Policy option 6. Establish governmental units to address the problem of harmful internet use.

Theme 4: Better protection offered by industry

Policy option 7. Promote technology that better protects against harmful internet use.

Policy option 8. Promote technology that better protects social institutions and social inclusion.

Theme 5: Research

Policy option 9. Promote more research into the effects of internet use and effective interventions.

Afsluitend

Hopelijk biedt bijgesloten rapport ook nu weer ´food for thought´ voor wetenschap, beleid, en praktijk. Het is zaak om de ´rouwranden´ van het Internetgebruik kritisch te volgen en gepaste (preventieve) maatregelen te implementeren om persoonlijke en maatschappelijke schade te voorkomen. Zeker nu de afhankelijkheid van het Internet op bijna alle maatschappelijke gebieden in de toekomst alleen maar zal toenenen in omvang en belang. De kennis over deze ´rouwranden´ van Internetgebruik neemt toe, dus hopelijk ook het gebruik daarvan in beleid en praktijk.

Tot zover maar weer. Op naar de volgende ´kennisparel´. Blijf gezond, optimistisch, en vooral aardig voor elkaar.