The internet and digital transition in the economy have had far more profound effects on not only health but also society as a whole. The internet has affected how physicians interact with patients, the access to health information and health products, as well as the management of health records to boost the understanding of diseases and the epidemiological responses to conditions (Tan & Goonawardene, 2017). The internet affects whole lifestyles, and increased automation of work, virtualization of work experience and digitization of communication have made it possible for many people to remain relatively sedentary and immobile. The internet has affected social interaction, and many people are lonely, which leads to depression and poor problem-solving abilities that aggravate wellbeing. Internet usage morbidity occurs along the spectrum of the alterations of lifestyle and socialization on virtual environments. In particular, social media leads to potentially injurious psychological and psychosocial adjustments.
The internet has made it possible for people to interact across cultures, which has created the ills of cyberbullying, cyber racism, cyber suicide and internet addiction. Moreover, these lifestyle conditions have immense social influences that cause depression and mental illness (Maurya, Patel & Sharma, 2018). Social media platforms can relay information that affects people psychologically leading to poor adjustment and coping with the challenges of life. Social media also produce unrealistic personality portrayals, which many people cannot cope with without expert assistance. The effect of such flawed self-ideation and personality interpretation can be devastating because it reduces individuals coping mechanisms and thereby opens the gates to all manner of destructive influences sand tendencies. Moreover, social media marketing of alcoholic beverages and other drugs lure people into alcoholism and unsound choices that have a potentially tragic outcome in their welfare and health. Unregulated internet leads to the proliferation of illegal firearms, illicit drug trade, pornography, offensive media content, all of which harm lives either directly or indirectly over the lifespan.
The internet may affect people’s choices regarding educational advancement and career progression, which leads to disillusionment. Without proper career advancement and academic progression, the internet can be a severe barrier to significant developmental attainments, further compounding individual isolation and multiplication of social and financial problems. Internet addiction, which is the development of dependence on the loose social networks on social media platforms, can lead to tragic disillusionment and dependence that cause massive strife. Cyber suicide is the experience of suicide ideation that results from a lifestyle based on delusional self-portrayal on digital platforms, which people cannot experience in real-life. Such people may commit suicide because of unbearable personal isolation and unmanaged depression lasting many years.
The internet has influenced the patient-physician relationship when the patients consult useful health information on the internet prior to their visitation to the physicians. Internet resources on nutritional wellbeing and fitness can greatly influence wellbeing because they lead to enhanced immunity and better-coping strategies as well as preparedness for varied life challenges. Scheduling fitness training, nutritional programs, sleep routines, and many lifestyle situations through various internet resources make it easy for people to optimize their lifestyles and have relevant data to achieve better guidance on the same. Internet tools can offer suitable insights about health conditions cheaply without the need to visit a physician, and this can significantly reduce the spending on healthcare. Community health resources in wellbeing and in managing diseases like Malaria and Tuberculosis have gained immensely in remote places where it is difficult to extend adequate medical services.
The internet has made it astoundingly easy to gather health records and health research materials from diverse databases to aid in medical research, which has contributed to a revolution in many fields of medical research ( Jiang & Beaudoin, 2016). Governments can also have better oversight in public health spending and budgetary controls in the sector due to the automation of medical management systems between governments and the private sector. Moreover, the internet has revolutionized financial services, making it easy to handle medical insurance cover and other financial instruments that support investment in the health sector. The convergence of many technologies on the internet that help monitor disease spread and manifestation has made it easy to control deadly pandemics like the SARS-Cov-2 virus, and advancing databases about the same will help future generations better understand epidemics and response strategies.
The internet has made it possible to gather immense health data and strategically use such data in the research and management of healthcare programs. Disease epidemiology has benefitted immensely from massive data sets from healthcare systems and medical care organizations around the globe. Moreover, physician consultation through online portals and apps has made it possible for patients in developing countries to access excellent medical attention by the most qualified experts handling critical health complications like cancer and heart disease. Health-promoting technologies and health monitoring gadgets supported by the internet platform has revolutionized the process of health-seeking behaviours and optimization of health information obtained from volunteers submitting personal health records to researchers. Medical research has greatly benefitted from internet-based databases soliciting free data from individuals and institutions collecting medical data for strategic research (Jiang & Street, 2017). The internet enables teleconferencing that can be deployed to carry out surgical operations through remote doctors’ involvement and thereby saving lives in critical accidents. The internet can also make it easy to deploy disaster management projects for flood or famine victims and hence to rescue millions from starvation and death.
The internet is often accessed on digital gadgets with interfaces that often subject users to eye strain, bad posture, sleep deprivation, and relationship stress. Socialization through social media platforms has adversely affected marriages, child upbringing and parenting because of the conflicts of lifestyles people obtain from the internet. Moreover, the internet exposes people to passive games and engagements that do not add value to their wellbeing and instead deplete the value of their relationships with close friends and kin. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with varied health risks like obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. In essence, apart from immediate lifestyle-based health risks, the internet exposes people to potentially destructive socialization, which leads to unstable relationships within the family and hence social strife and stress.
In conclusion, the internet has immensely affected lifestyles and impacted people’s livelihoods and health in many ways. For the younger generations, it is advisable to have a guided and supervised use of the internet, and for the adults, critical understanding and awareness of the pitfalls and dangers that it poses should guide the use of the internet either at home or at work. The leading negative impacts of the internet are associated with uninformed use of the internet. On the contrary, people stand to gain immensely from the use of the internet from an empowered and informed perspective. The internet harbours immense knowledge resources on health and nutrition, and fitness, which would greatly influence wellbeing and socialization to avert disease. However, social media use beyond a certain threshold can be a severe source of depression, stress and the development of severe psychological disturbances. The internet is a technology that will form the mainstream of livelihoods and economic processes in society, and people need to be trained on how to use it productively and positively.
Jiang, S., & Beaudoin, C. E. (2016). Health literacy and the internet: An exploratory study on the 2013 HINTS survey. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 240-248.
Jiang, S., & Street, R. L. (2017). Pathway linking Internet health information seeking to better health: a moderated mediation study. Health Communication, 32(8), 1024-1031.
Maurya, V. P., Patel, A. K., & Sharma, V. (2018). Use of internet in relation to health and wellbeing among college students. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 9(1), 70-72.
Tan, S. S. L., & Goonawardene, N. (2017). Internet health information seeking and the patient- physician relationship: a systematic review. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(1), e9.