How has the internet affected society?
New media - internet - communication
Dr. phil. habil .; Professor for media conception and media psychology at the Technical University of Ilmenau, Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Ernst Abbe Center for Research and Transfer (EAZ), Ehrenbergstr. 29, 98693 Ilmenau, Germany.
Email: [email protected]
introductionIn 1997, only three percent of women and ten percent of men belonged to the privileged minority of early Internet users. Ten years later, the Internet is an everyday medium: 57 percent of women and 69 percent of men took part in online communication in 2007 - and the trend is still increasing.  Today's young people are rightly regarded as the online generation or screenager: 95 percent of girls and boys between the ages of 14 and 19 move in cyberspace: in virtual reality. These young onliners are the adult internet users of tomorrow and the cyber seniors or silver surfers of the day after tomorrow. Nowadays, internet use is no longer just part of work or formal educational processes, but is primarily part of self-organized breaks and leisure activities. 
How is this development to be assessed from a psychological point of view? Can we improve our lives, well-being and happiness by using the Internet? Or is the internet more likely to harbor dangers for mental equilibrium - from internet addiction to sexual and other online harassment, loss of privacy and social isolation?
The psychological consequences of the Internet for individuals are not predetermined by the technical properties or available content of the Internet. Rather, the decisive factor is the way in which a person uses (or does not use) the Internet - and how the Internet activities fit into their everyday life: From a media psychological and communication science perspective, neither young people nor adults are helplessly exposed to the harmful effects of the media or face them passive to. Rather, users try to actively adapt the Internet (as well as other media) to their respective needs and living conditions. This media appropriation often proves useful, but it can also take problematic forms.
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