Internet dangerous in public hands

Experiments to establish technological advancements began in 1957, when the Soviet Union pulled ahead of the United States in space exploration. One of the experiments, the Internet, was intended to benefit the federal government by providing information on the progression of other nations.

Unfortunately, the Internet was subject to the general public’s abuse when the government no longer managed it in 1992.

Today, the Internet is not owned or funded by any one institution. The Internet is a self-sustaining facet of society accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

The framers of the Constitution did not even trust the American people enough to provide them the right to vote directly for the president. So, why has the government entrusted the public with such a universal entity as the Internet? Should it continue to do so? I say no.

One poison becoming increasingly rampant on the Internet is pornography.

Men and women no longer have to frequent a convenience store, show identification and purchase magazines under the scrutiny of strangers. Instead, a person can type a few letters on the keyboard of a computer and access the epitome of society’s perversion in their bedroom. According to an MSNBC survey, 60 percent of all Web site visits are of a sexual nature. The No. 1 search term used is the word “sex,” according to a report by Alexa Research.

Larry the Cable Guy can joke about it, but the fact remains that emotional, psychological and physical problems can result from abusing pornography. Pornography can become an addiction. Even if it’s not a physical or chemical addiction, pornography can be a catalyst for destruction in relationships.

If a person views pornography regularly as a replacement for sexual intimacy with his or her partner, problems will arise. Among them will be the partner’s jealousy or disgust, because pornography creates such a distorted image of the human anatomy and of sex that healthy relationships and sex lives are almost impossible to maintain.

Internet pornography can affect people in the workplace as well. Nearly one out of three companies has terminated an employee for inappropriate Internet use, according to a report by Websense Incorporated and The Center for Internet Studies, 2000.

Other upsetting facts about the Internet deal with the increasing number of youths viewing Internet pornography and the growing number of Web sites containing child pornography. According to Red Herring Magazine, Jan. 18, 2002, the U.S. Customs Service estimated more than 100,000 Web sites containing illegal child pornography. This crime is brutalizing the lives of innocent children across the world, often exploited by their parents.

Forgetting for a moment the sexually immoral aspects of the Internet, the Internet can provide shortcuts to the academic progress of students.

Few students utilize literary resources today, as information is more readily accessible via the Internet. Web sites like assist students and can essentially do the work for them. High schools and universities have conducted surveys that show rising instances of plagiarism.

According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, at the University of Central Florida, nearly 700 student papers in one semester were found to be 75 to 100 percent plagiarized when checked against a database. Because it is available to anyone, including frantic students who cannot complete assignments on time, the Internet can paralyze students, delay the development of responsibility and affect the next generation of business executives, researchers, educators and so on.

Meanwhile, AOL instant messenger and Web sites like Facebook and MySpace are becoming primary sources of communication today. Although Dr. Phil may sponsor a successful online dating relationship on his show and every high school student may have a MySpace account, the risks far outweigh the benefits of becoming involved with someone over the Internet.

According to, 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself on Oct. 16, 2006. Her mother attributes Megan’s death to MySpace. One would agree that attributing a person’s suicide solely to a Web site is radical. However, the facts of the case are incriminating enough for the woman who tormented Megan via the Internet to face serious consequences.

Megan suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder and depression. She took medication for both, and was, for the most part, the typical teenager. Megan became infatuated with a boy who introduced himself via MySpace as Josh, new in town. Megan spoke to Josh regularly, but eventually, Josh told Megan he believed what others said, that she was fat and a slut. On Oct. 15, he severed communication with her. Megan’s family now knows that “Josh” was a fictitious character created by a neighbor. Can this person be brought to justice for her destructive use of the Internet? Since cyber-bullying has not yet hit the law books, there’s a gray area.

The Internet has been abused. Since time cannot be reversed or statistics eliminated, one solution exists: Place restrictions on the Internet to prevent the general public from perpetuating sexual immorality, providing shortcuts and inevitably, endangering lives. states that residents of Dardenne Praire, Mo., where the Meiers live, have proposed a new ordinance related to child endangerment and Internet harassment. It’s a start.

Shannon Stephan is a senior majoring in secondary English education