Cultural Impacts of the Internet

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The internet is a worldwide connected series of computer networks that has created many changes in society. It is my firm belief that the internet has lead to the advancement, exploration and the homogenization of cultures around the world. This is the case because of its effects global communication, education, marketing and the ability to access information about other cultures.tderejgfkelwhlyf

History of the Internet

The internet started as a privately used means of communication technology. In the early 1960s, J.C.R. Licklider, Leonard Kleinrock, Donald Davies, Paul Baran, Lawrence Roberts and dozens of other scientists wanted to create a globally interconnected set of computers so that data and programs could be quickly and easily accessed from anywhere in the world. The first use of the internet was in 1969 by ARPANET (the Advanced Projects Research Agency Network). In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web for public information sharing. The internet was further advanced in 1993 by the invention of “browser software” by Marc Andreessen. By 1996, there were approximately 45 million people using the Internet and this number has continued to increase throughout the years. In 2004, there was estimated to be between 600 and 800 million internet users. [Imagining the Internet] According to the Internet Society the internet is like a creature and it will continue to grow and change. It will introduce new applications like the internet telephone and internet television. There will be new modes of access to the internet created along with new forms of services that the internet can provide which will continue to create changes in the use of internet.


Culture is defined as shared behaviors, ideas, and artifacts that create a way of life passed from one generation to another. Every one grows up in at least one culture and their lives are influenced everyday by being surrounded in that culture. Cultural differences occur because every culture fulfills its needs in different ways and those ways are passed on from generation to generation. [The Importance of Culture] There are millions of different cultures throughout the world and each one has its own unique identity and way of life.

Cultural Homogenization

Cultural homogenization is the blending of cultures. This means that the uniqueness of each culture is being reduced and cultures are becoming more similar to one another. As this concept continues, we are coming closer to forming a new, global culture. If this continues to occur, we will lose sight of many traditional cultures and customs within those cultures. New traditions will be formed with cultural homogenization. The new traditions will dominate many societies because all societies will become more and more similar until a new “super culture” is formed.

Effects of the Internet on Culture

  • Cultural Advancement

With the easy accessibility of information, cultures have been able to advance in many ways. Education is a way in which advancement of cultures has occurred. People can now learn about anything using the internet as a means of information.raz

There is a dominance of use of the internet for educational needs than for entertainment [Culture and Internet Consumption]. This provides evidence of the importance of the internet in education.

Cultures have also advanced economically because the internet allows for marketing and sales transactions. Marketers now have a whole new way of advertising and selling products or services. They can now post something on the internet and anyone, anywhere at any point in time can see that add. This leads to an increase in business. Businesses are also growing because the internet allows for businesses to be internet based. They can solely run on the internet (facebook) or they can have a land business and increase exposure with a website and/or internet business as well. World wide organizations are now able to exist and run with ease because of the advancement of communication by the internet.
  • Exploration of Cultures

Cultures can more easily explore other cultures now that the internet is available. To learn about a culture one can just use a search engine and quickly access information about the desired culture. Prior to the internet, a person would have had to either travel to where the culture was at or find a book which entailed information about that culture. Both of these ways are time consuming and have the potential to be very expensive. Another benefit to using the internet for cultural information is that one can learn about the beliefs of that culture before experiencing it if he/she is interested in going there. An example is learning what that culture finds offensive so that he/she does not make the mistake of acting or speaking in a way that offends the people of that culture. This helps with business transactions and any kind of intercultural travel.

  • Homogenization of Cultures

With the newfound exploration of cultures, cultural uniqueness has decreased because people see there are other possible ways of living life. A person of one culture may like the way another culture does something and then start to do that something themselves. This can spread throughout the culture and soon the two cultures will contain fewer differences. An easy example of this is cultural food. In the United States, we have Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, and Thai restaurants. This is because we have learned about the different foods from these cultures, liked it and started eating it ourselves. The internet makes this process very easy by providing recipes from these cultures online. Cultural homogenization will continue to occur as the number of cultures on the internet increases and the “diversity of the internet’s content grows”. Individuals, organizations and cultures can come together on the internet because of a shared interest or goal [Effects of the Internet]. They can then learn about each other and adopt ideas from one another eventually leading to an alteration in ways of life.

  • Increased Cultural Communication

The internet allows information to freely flow from one network to another. Cultural communication is easier now because information from one culture can be posted on the internet and looked at by another culture. This can be through journals, websites and anything else included with the internet. Cultural trends include using Facebook, instant messaging, Myspace, blogs, and other devices like these to communicate. Cultures can directly communicate with other cultures through these services.

  • Effects of the Internet on culture in Britain and the United States

Both Britain and the United States are affected by the internet. These countries are highly developed and internet usage has become part of their culture. It serves as a way to access information, keep up on current events, communicate with others, market and purchase items, and spread cultural ideals. The internet has affected each culture in similar ways but it may have an increased effect on the United States. In 2000 North America had 147.5 million internet users whereas Europe had 91.8 million. In 2005 the percentage of the population using the net was 48% for the USA and 38% for the UK. The rest of the world had these statistics: in Canada and Australia, 46%, in Sweden, 53%, in Germany, 36%, in the UK, 38%, in France, 26%, in Spain, 22%, in Japan, 29%, and in Brazil, for example, only 6% [Culture and Internet Consumption] These ratings look low and perhaps new data from 2008 would show higher rates of usage. Internet has become the norm for communication, especially among the younger generations. Companies in both the UK and US are using the internet as a tool for business. Young (avg. age 22) internet users in the US were questioned about the internet and 68% said it would be very hard to give up the Internet [Pew Internet and American Life Project]. Students would find this difficult because most schools use internet projects and have students access information through the internet. Generally timelines on research projects only allow enough time for students to search the web instead of searching for books and then through the books to find relevant information. Schools (especially) colleges also have e-mail accounts set up for the students as a way of communication. They have their own websites and important information is generally posted on the main page of the websites (ex: cancellations). In 2007 almost 15 million households in Great Britain which correlates to 61% of its population had Internet access [National Statistics]. In 2002 there were only 4 million households (36%) wither internet access. This shows how the internet is gaining popularity in UK as well as the United States. Students and businesses in the UK have similar internet usage as those in the US.

The Significance of the Effects of the Internet on Culture

Culture has greatly benefitted from the invention and use of the internet. It has advanced in education, marketing, communication and cultural practices. Unfortunately its benefits can also be viewed as its weaknesses. Education can be adversely effected because of the high amounts of incorrect information on the internet. Marketing may offend a culture and start tensions between cultures. Communication could also start tensions if persons from different cultures engage in disputes on the internet. It could turn into something worse than just a declarative argument. Cultural uniqueness and identities can be impacted negatively by the homogenization of cultures. Cultures can slowly lose their traditions and this may hide different possibilities of ways of living. It can also lead to discrimination against a minority group who doesn’t participate in new “global culture” trends. Another limitation of the internet is the availability of “subversive material” [The Internet Today]. Examples are like pornography that is now available for children to see and recipes for making bombs. These are ever threatening postings that can have a significant negative effect on culture. Even though the effects of subversive material may be negative, it may be far more negative to limit knowledge that can be obtained from the internet.

Importance of this Topic

Recognizing the impact that the internet has on society and culture is very important. If we learn the effects, we can help make the internet more successful by focusing on the accuracy of information and by realizing its limitations. Knowledge of the internet can also improve its limitations because if we recognize the problems with it, we can come together to form solutions. We can also help secure cultural differences by learning the importance of culture and developing new ways to keep cultural uniqueness despite the influences of the internet. A super culture can be beneficial in many ways but it can also lead to discrimination against minorities. If we recognize these potential impacts by researching this topic than we are more likely to produce higher amounts of benefits from the internet and less aversive effects. this is true


The internet will continue to change our cultures in many ways with future advances and increasing usage. It is very important to study the effects it produces so we can learn how to limit the negative effects and boost the positive effects. By studying these effects, we can ensure that the future holds great possibilities.

References: 1) Effects of the Internet (the internet's influence on sociolinguistics)

2) Culture and Internet Consumption: Contributions from Cross-Cultural Marketing and Advertising Research

3) The Internet Today: Causes and Effects

4) The Importance of Culture

5) Histories of the Internet

6) Imagining the Internet: 1960s-1990’s – Internet 

7) Pew Internet and American Life Project

8) National Statistics: Internet Access

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