As an almost limitless tool for advertisement, though some self censorship has recently occurred as more and more people reduce ad time by restricting adware and popup ads on their computer systems, the internet can ad to the most vile of physical, social and mental health state, especially in the young and impressionable.
For these reasons and more, it makes sense for everyone -- especially for children and young adults -- to consider how advertising can affect four basic types of health. First, it can affect our physical health. We may learn about a healthy practice or vitamin, but may also be prone to engaging in unhealthy activities, lulled by media depictions of glamorous smokers and drinkers, as well as by direct ads for tobacco and alcohol. Second, advertising can affect our emotional health by delivering media-imposed definitions of beauty, sexuality, maturity, and problem-solving. Advertising plays an influential role in other emotional health issues, such as instant gratification. Third, advertising can affect our social health, because it often communicates attitudes, values, beliefs, and ideologies, including those of consumption, competition, and materialism. Finally, it can affect our cultural health, when we observe how, when, and if certain groups of people are represented in advertising messages....Moreover, the Academy contends that the increase in children's obesity correlates with youngsters watching more TV commercials that tout foods high in salt, sugar, and fat. (Fox, 2001)
Though much research is associated with television advertisements the advertisements on the internet can have the same effects. Not to mention the additional social isolation that can occur as a result of heavy internet usage.
Conclusion/Call for Research
According to a leading writer and researcher on the internet and its usage, "Students are logging hundreds of hours on the World Wide Web - but not showing up for class." (Keenan, 1996, p. 38) Keenan also creates a testimonial type statement about how universal such extreme usage actually is. She claims that the culture has completely left behind the computer geek and is enveloping individuals who would not historically be associated with such ardent computer usage.
Internet addiction surfaced last year when Alfred reported twice as many post-first semester dropouts compared with past years. The school appointed Connie Beckman, director of the computer center, to look into the problem. "There were kids with 1200 [Scholastic Assessment Tests] scores and professors said they were some of the brightest kids in the class -- when they showed up," she explains. "They had very high levels of late-night online activity and they had mega log-ins" -- some as many as 18,000 a semester, or an average of 17 per day. (Keenan, 1996, p. 38)
As colleges and schools for younger children stress the need for almost constantly available internet resources, they need also stress the importance of utilizing it as a tool that fits into the scope of the individuals goals, rather than sucks up time and resources, creates sedentary peoples and effects the physical and psychological health of youth.
Internet addiction has come into the mainstream as a real social problem in developed nations, but has been poorly researched and is in serious need of a research database for further understanding and for potential intervention techniques for individuals, parents and professionals. The implications of this problem could be as vast as the potential greatness that the internet creates in its ability to link information to information seekers to level never before seen in any media technology.
Fox, R.F. (2001, November). Warning Advertising May Be Hazardous to Your Health: Ads Pose a Threat to Physical, Emotional, Social, and Cultural Well-Being. USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education), 130, 62-77.
Gattiker, U.E. (2001). The Internet as a Diverse Community: Cultural, Organizational, and Political Issues. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Harris, L.M. (Ed.). (1995). Health and the New Media: Technologies Transforming Personal and Public Health. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hatfield, T.H., & Erbeck, G.W. (1997). The Internet: Legitimate Educational Tool or Giant Electronic Sandbox?. Journal of Environmental Health, 59(8), 19-25.
Keenan, J. (1996, July 29). Students Stuck in Cyber Web. Insight on the News, 12, 38. Kelly, R.V. (2004) Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games: The People, the Addiction and the Playing Experience, New…