Unlimited access to the Internet the world over has been a boon for mankind. Nothing now is beyond the horizon of unawareness. All that you have to do is “Google it” to get whatever information you want within seconds. However, there is a flip side to it too. It is alright that you go for a bout of some online shopping or book hotels at remote and exotic locations for your vacation. But should you really follow the Internet advised path blindly when it comes to your health issues?
There is a natural inclination to treat medical websites with as much trust and faith as you would do for a site specialising in news updates. That studies have shown is not advisable. You have to evaluate how true the health information that you get from the Internet actually is and how much it can be relied upon. Most importantly, experts say that a large number of websites on health are filled with inaccuracies. So following their recommendations is often fraught with dangers that can have a damaging effect on your health.
A major lacuna with health searches is the keywords being typed in to get the information. Health related keywords must be precise and exact because search engines give results that are close to each other based on the overlapping of certain words in long tailed keywords. A study was carried out in the USA on this issue by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) on infant sleep issues through searches with “infant sleep position”, “infant co-sleeping”, and “pacifier sleeping”. What was shown by the search engines were then tested against AAP recommendations for medical accuracy.
The results were indeed surprising. Of the first 100 results in each category, 43.5% only were in line with what AAP suggests, 28.1% contained inaccurate information and the rest 28.4% were not medically relevant at all. Now, parents do not have the medical expertise to differentiate the truth from the false. Hence it will lead to dangerous complications if such information and medical advice is implemented at home on children. A great deal of caution has to be exercised in following results given in online searches on health.
Another way to ensure that you get accurate medical information online is to check the authenticity of the site. Users’ testimonials are one way because you will then know that others have been benefitted by the site. Similarly, check for the range of information on the site. This is particularly true for companies dealing in health care related equipment.
An example will help illustrate this point better. Search for tattoo removal techniques or equipment in Australia and you will be guided to http://www.universalipl.com.au/tattoo-removal/ at the top of search results pages. This is the website of Universal Medical Aesthetics, one of the leading importers and distributors of beauty care equipment in Australia. Go through the website and you will find that they deal not only in tattoo removal devices but a whole range of skin rejuvenation and permanent hair removal machinery too. If you are looking to buy one of their equipment, you can always go to their buyers and check their credentials and quality of equipment. They also host IPL machines at regular intervals through which you can save a lot of money. By having a double check, you will be sure that the information you are getting on health care equipment is true and accurate.
Another surprise is that educational websites like that of universities or other specialised institutions (with URLs ending with .edu or ebooks or peer reviewed articles) are not totally accurate. This is because the information is not always updated or they have links to subscription based articles that cannot always be accessed by everybody. Hence, sites will have outdated information that should not be relied on. Blogs and websites of non medical professional individuals should not be trusted too.
While the Internet is considered to be a fountainhead of knowledge, it is always preferable to take it with a pinch of salt when searching for health related information.
The Internet today vastly influences the life you choose to live by bringing the world close together. Boundaries and distances don’t matter anymore and people do not have to travel around the globe for information, it is all there on the laptop and smart phone. It has changed the way you book tables at restaurants for dinner or make a few quick purchases while on the go. Brick and mortar stores are slowly becoming irrelevant as online shopping eats into physical sales. You can turn on the air conditioner well before you reach home from office so that you can step into a cool environment or even monitor your home and business CCTV video recordings from a remote location.
The possibilities of using the Internet to your advantage are almost limitless so much so that a world without the Internet falls within the ambit of the unthinkable now.
Given here are just a few of the ways that the Internet has impacted daily lifestyles.
- Speeding up daily routines. – Internet has speeded up daily routines and made life simpler. Now there is no need to rush to office to check important client mails or make time to go to the bank to arrange a money transfer. Getting up in the morning and simply logging into the laptop will bring the world to your doorsteps in seconds. Reply to urgent emails, check notifications and on the way out to work order online for groceries. Half your day’s work is already over before end of morning. That is the power of the Internet.
- Added security – While CCTV cameras and alarm systems are not new inventions, the Internet has given them a cutting edge with technologically advanced features. In the past if there was a break-in at your home while you were away on vacation it would only come to your notice after you came back. CCTV recordings could then be used to track down the intruders. However, today, with the Internet based systems you can control all security installation round the clock from remote locations. For example, if you have opted for alarm installation in Melbourne for your home and it goes off due to a break-in or a fire, you will be instantly notified wherever you are on your smart phone. You can even check CCTV footage on any Internet enabled device any time you choose to.
Top of the line providers of security equipment like onetecsecurity.com.au also offer monitoring services. Any untoward incident in your home that triggers the alarm systems or CCTV cameras in your premises is immediately notified to their control room over the Internet and you will be informed of it.
- Online shopping – Remember the times when you had to go around the block to a shop even for the smallest things. Or jostle around in a crowded departmental store for Christmas shopping. That is history now. Pick up your smart phone from wherever you might be and browse top shopping deals round the clock. Take your time in scanning various top online shopping portals ordering for gifts or even your daily necessities – all from your favourite armchair. The Internet has brought the stores right to your home and placing an order is simply a click away.
- Funds Management – The Internet is not only widely used to make money but also manage money too. Banking practices have shifted from tellers and cash cages at the premises to Internet and mobile banking. There are hundreds of websites and apps that can be used to handle all types of transactions – right from transfers to most daily transactions and applying online for credit limits. Banks and other financial institutions as well as money management companies are all harnessing the power of the Internet to bring financial services into the homes of the common man.
Look around you at any time of the day and night in the modern world and you will instantly find something that is crucial to your everyday life which is controlled by the Internet.
It is today very difficult to imagine the world without the Internet – it seems almost similar to going back to the Dark Ages. Reaching for the smart phone or tablet or laptop to search for products or services or for a bout of online shopping has almost become second nature for most people. Smart phones coupled with the Internet has made the world a boundary less global village and more businesses and transactions are being carried out over the Internet than through traditional methods.
But where did all these begin and what actually is the Internet?
The Internet is a worldwide communication network of computers which in turn has millions of smaller affiliated networks. These might be business networks, government networks academic or domestic networks carrying various types of information related to its niche. The biggest with few billion users is the World Wide Web commonly known as www where most websites are based. It was created at CERN in Switzerland by British Tim Berners-Lee in 1990. The Internet on the other hand was developed in October 1969 in the USA by DARPA (United States Department of Defence Advanced Research Projects and was then called the ARPANET.
The present digital revolution is based on the variety of services provided on the Internet. The World Wide Web has websites that can be easily accessed by anybody until of course it is specifically blocked or requires a password to open. After www email has the most Internet usage and has made instant communication between two parties a reality.
While it is true that the Internet has enabled a more open society and brought about a host of advantages, it is also a fact that it has been used by unscrupulous elements to their advantage. People use the Internet to spread malicious lies and information, trick users into downloading viruses that damages computer systems and hack into confidential and personal data. The world incurs billions of dollars in losses due to all these factors.
The bright spot is that the benefits that the Internet showers on the world far outweigh the darker sides of it.