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Number of posts : 1850
Age : 55
Registration date : 2008-03-08

PostSubject: THE INTERNET AND PUBLIC HEALTH   Sat 5 Apr - 14:53

The advent of an internet-enabled ‘information society’ could have much broader consequences. For example, network access is supporting more home-working, which could impact on public health in many ways: decreased individual travel and increased commercial deliveries of goods may reduce traffic pollution and accidents, but may also reduce social interaction and physical exercise. Effects are to be expected on home life, productivity and energy consumption.

At present the internet is predominantly a computer-mediated tool, and there is a need to quantify its health impact with respect to ergonomic issues—for example, postural musculoskeletal disorders. In the future the internet will become more integrated with other technologies and this will need assessment. There is also a need for work around sustainability issues and computers—including the disposal of hardware and the myth of the ‘paperless’ office (now full of internet printouts).

The internet allows development of communities—explicit in chatroom format, but also implicit communities of individuals linking with each other through hypertext or e-mail connections. In this way the internet can support campaigning and democratization, giving users the means to organize socially and politically, and it can facilitate the working of communities of practice (such as public health networks). However, the ease of establishing such links, coupled with the anonymous nature of the internet, creates an environment where deviancy can flourish. A quarter of school-age children in a US survey reported having felt unsafe while online. The internet is used for the dissemination and display of offensive materials, and by paedophile rings.
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