Today we live in the society that for the last twenty-thirty years has evolved more than for the past two centuries. The reason why it happened so fast is in the rapidly, sometimes even revolutionary changing technology. People are significantly dependent on technology and any substantial changes in this sphere lead to the new levels of civilizational development.
Any technological breakthrough was the reason for new expansions, new wars, new substantial changes in the structure of any society where these technological achievements were accessible for the majority of people. Various sciences began to play a more significant role than religion and customs. Humans began to rely on mechanisms and machines more than on their own hands and wits.
If to look back into the history of the mankind, one will find numerous proofs for such changes. First people got the concept of creating fire, becoming far more independent from weather changes and time of the year. The invention of the gun powder drastically changed the situation in the world: those nations who had enough of it started to conquer their neighbors. Moreover, the advent of steam driven machines made manual labor less needed and people received an opportunity to develop spiritually.
It is easy to observe these ongoing changes right now. The advent of microchips has created numerous opportunities for the appearance of new, previously even unimagined technologies that are so common today. It was information technologies that created another virtual world, which exists today in its own parallel life with millions of people in it.
The advent of the Internet has changed common life, transforming people’s understanding of the term “communication”, reading, entertaining etc. People received an opportunity to communicate with each other on the real-time basis, to share photos and other personal information, to gather into communities united by the same interests. It was the beginning of a new era, the era of the Internet society. People are too social creatures to ignore such capabilities of socialization that the Internet provides.
No one argues about the fact that information technologies have changed the world forever. There are no doubts that the influence of IT on people’s well-being is tremendous and substantial. However, not everyone accepts such state of things. There are people who consider the Internet as the part of IT that influences people on the deeper levels and has more negative aftereffects than it was considered to be.
Lack or absence of reading of the paper books and other materials provided on hard carriers is one of the negative aftereffects. The fact that younger generations do not read books in their conventional form is considered to be a bad thing by default. Thus, Goldwasser provides the words of Doris Lessing regarding the current state of culture, calling it “a fragmenting culture” in which “young men and women … have read nothing, knowing only some specialty or other, for instance, computers”.
Adults cannot precept the Internet as the combination of communication means. Most representatives of the older generations do not realize what the Internet is real and it can be used to read, write, socialize or simply be a part of a new life. Therefore, the fact that the Internet has replaced books is something really bad and evil in their understanding. Lessing stated that the Internet “seduced a whole generation into its inanities” (Goldwasser). It is important to understand the situation from within in order to draw well-weighted conclusions regarding the influence of the Internet on the literacy level, as reading and writing can substantially different from the activities people got used to.
Goldwasser provides rather persuasive counterarguments regarding the problems with reading that young American have, or at least they are thought to by adults. The fact that these young Americans, the number of who, according to Goldwasser, was about 33 million in 2008, text, e-mail, blog, IM, update their social networks’ profiles every single day. They participate in various virtual events, chat and reflect on their personal pages in the Internet every day. Teenagers consume the tons of information every day via numerous channels, such as advertising, television, radio, etc. and then they spend time in the Internet, reading and writing. They do all this by their own will, none forces them to act like this. Goldwasser calls young bloggers, teenagers and underage personalities “honest documentarians of their own lives”. They do not read conventional books as it was ten-twenty-thirty years ago – it is true (Rich).
However, young people are able to express their thoughts freely and do it without any fear; they have the means and place to be like this. Thus, children learn to express their thoughts without hypocrisy and more importantly, find the sources of information they consider credible, trustworthy and not limited by the political, social or any other will of the author, as in case of the book. It can be said that by reading information in the Internet children learn to think more efficiently, analyze and choose information they consider worth their attention.
Another positive effect of reading the Internet sources instead of conventional books is the motivation. Young people that have no interest in books, in reading, in anything but popular culture and similar stuff read and write online because it is … popular. In addition, it is the only possible way today to be a part of some social groups they want to be in. The example of Nadia Konyk (Rich) speaks for itself. She is an ordinary 15-year-old teenager with common interests, typical of modern teenagers – no books, only her social life in the Internet, videos from YouTube, various websites and six hours a day in front of the computer (Rich).
Her mother worries that her daughter does not read books. However, Nadia gets A’s and B’s at school, so she has no troubles with her schooling. How is it possible? Reading was and still is considered as one of the ways to become smarter and well-educated person. Therefore, those who do not read should miss something in their lives. The example with Nadia clearly states that conventional books do not influence anything. The Internet can be used for reading as well (Rich).
There are two major advantages the Internet can provide, such as freedom of choice and access to information. Thus, parents should ask themselves about what they would choose themselves being teenagers? The Internet became the new media for information as well as paper and books replaced rocks centuries ago. The situation with reading should be reviewed by the adults from the different angle since their children read. Moreover, they write. They do it every single day, being driven by their will. There is no such school that would have such effect on the reading and writing skills of an average teenager.
There is only one concern regarding the ongoing battle between the Internet and books, which books, by the way, desperately lose. It is the quality of information. This aspect should be considered very attentively. The thing is that the Internet is filled with the informational rubbish; there are no strict rules that would be followed in terms of presenting information. Therefore, books, which are edited and well-written, are still on the top from this point of view. Literacy is not something to be looked for on the Internet, unfortunately. Anyway, the Internet has substantial influence on children and it will only increase.