[EDITORIALS]Internet: Pluses and minusesAt the end of last year, the proportion of Internet users among the total population exceeded 70 percent. According to a survey by the Ministry of Information and Communication, 31.6 million people over six years of age use the Internet. This means that virtually all Koreans have access. It is no exaggeration to say that the Information Age has become deeply interwoven in our daily life.
It’s been some time since Korea became the country with the highest distribution rate of Internet broadband networks in the world. The growth has accelerated recently.
Such a rapid rise in the number of Internet users provides a solid foundation for the development of information technology and is an asset to our economy. Despite the bubbles of start-up companies bursting some years ago, many venture businesses remain engaged in developing new Internet-related technologies. No one can deny the possibility that some among them could grow to be internationally-renowned IT businesses like Samsung Electronics Co. or LG Electronics. In that sense, we have to increase the frequency of Internet use so that we can cultivate the seedbed of our information technology industry.
The Internet is being used for studying, shopping, travel and banking, along with its function as an information search tool and for e-mail exchanges. As information technology development enables the simultaneous spread of an enormous volume of information, the pattern of people’s lives has started to change in a significant way. It has become much easier to manage daily life, and the opportunity for enhancing democratic values has increased.
On the other hand, the chance of personal information leaks has grown, in addition to the side effect of too much useless information, which poses a big problem. New types of social diseases, such as cyberstalking and the hacking of Web sites have emerged. Counter-measures to reduce such cases must be found.
One more worrying thing is that the gap in age, occupation and income level among Internet users is growing wider. It is a concern that the information divide could deepen conflict between generations and between have’s and have-not’s with the evolution of an aging society and the widening of the income gap. Now we have to pay attention to information divide as well as the growth rate of Internet use.