Setting boundaries for Internet use


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  • Wednesday, 24 Oct 2007

THE first thing I do when I wake up in the mornings, is to switch on my laptop. After brushing my teeth and taking a shower, I check my e-mail and log on to Facebook. 

For those who have yet to hear of it, Facebook is a social networking website that allows people to communicate with friends, exchange information and share pictures.  

Launched in Feb 2004, Facebook initially restricted membership to students of Harvard College, but by Sept 2006, anyone with a valid e-mail address could join – so they did. Almost every one of my friends is on Facebook.  

Not merely a social networking tool, Facebook has evolved into a clever business networking system for entrepreneurs to interact with potential customers in a fun and laid-back setting. It allows users to set up specific groups where invitations to events and functions can be sent out, and all who are invited are able to see how many people have responded.  

As with anything hip and current on the Internet, it is easy to become addicted to it. I have friends who check their Facebook account every 10 minutes at work..  

The Internet has become an extension of our limbs; many of us cannot function without it. Personally, it is too scary a thought to envision life without e-mail or Google.  

Long gone are the days when we painstakingly jotted down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of our friends and family; we just save them in our e-mail.  

The daunting task of searching for information has been relieved by the array of sophisticated search engines on the worldwide web. 

One of the best luxuries that the Internet can offer is that many people can now do their work from home. There is an option of not having to drive through the tedious traffic to be physically present for a meeting or to submit a script.  

And, if you want to be famous, just make a recording and put it on YouTube! The power of YouTube is so awe-inspiring, it is bordering on scary. Even my mum and dad, who had once found it difficult to send e-mail, are watching videos on YouTube. 

When I was 14 years old, it took all my persuasive powers to convince my parents to install the Internet, because I wanted to use the Internet Relay Chat, otherwise known as the IRC. 

The IRC was a teenager’s playground. We chatted, flirted and debated online and Internet-chatting has since evolved to newer and more sophisticated chat services, such as the ICQ, Yahoo! Chat Messenger and MSN Web Messenger.  

Kids are becoming rapidly more mature with the use of chat program-mes and blogs. They have a forum to express their happiness and vent their frustration, and with each sentence they write, their English improves and their wit sharpens. 

The people who are most appreciative of the Internet, however, are probably couples in long-distance relationships. Even the most anti-Internet person would succumb to the magic of the web when it comes to love.  

Skype, a software programme that allows users to make calls from their computer free-of-charge, was my most revered chat-method when I was conducting a long-distance relationship.  

One of my business associates, Liz, met her husband through Friendster, a popular Internet social network service, while  

I have, unexpectedly, received emcee jobs from perfect strangers through the service. 

The easy accessibility of the web is both its strength and its flaw. Pornography and piracy are available at the touch of a button, and there is nothing taboo or too shocking for the worldwide web.  

With the Internet, anything is possible and there are no boundaries. The only way to use it productively is to set our own boundaries. And that takes a whole lot of discipline and willpower.  

Ops, sorry, got to go – time to check my Facebook!  

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