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The Surprising Health Benefits of the Internet


You've probably heard about people being addicted to the Internet ... spending hour after hour surfing the Web, staring at that magical screen ... you may even be one of the many. With all of the unlimited information and services made available to us by the Internet, it's a wonder anyone leaves their house.

Searching the Web

Searching the Web may improve brain function in middle-aged and older adults, new research reveals.

Everything you need is just a point and click away -- shopping, food, entertainment, advice, etc., etc. In addition to the surplus of information at your fingertips, the Internet also allows complete freedom to do whatever you want, say whatever you want, and be whoever you want. No wonder it's so addictive -- it sounds pretty good!

But is it really?

Unfortunately, the drawbacks are many. Becoming isolated from the outside world is a real threat as we trade social interactions for electronic ones. And the Internet can definitely entice people to do things they might not otherwise do, such as steal -- illegal downloads of music and software are commonplace.

Gambling is also readily accessible, as is pornography, legal and not so legal. And if you have access to all the Internet has to offer, unless there's a parental filter in place, so do your children.

The negatives are definitely apparent, but what about the positives?

Why the Internet May be a Positive Influence in Your Life

New research shows that surfing the Web is actually beneficial.

Besides being a wealth of information and the cornerstone of convenience, a University of California, Los Angeles study shows that the Internet boosts brain power in middle-aged and older adults. Researchers found that the brain slows down over time. As you age, a number of physiological changes occur to the brain that can affect brain performance and function:

  • Atrophy - Brain shrinkage due to a loss of neurons and the connections between them leads to a loss of mental activities.

  • A reduction in cellular activity

  • Amyloid plaque - B-amyloid protein build-up disrupts communication between the brain's neurons.

  • Tau tangles - Tau protein build-up causes death to the brain's neurons.

Surfing the Web, however, provides an exercise to improve brain function in middle-aged and older adults. It utilizes parts the parts of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.


The Internet also provides a source of support groups, information and companionship for people all over the world.

"Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function," states lead researcher, Professor Gary Small.

Besides increasing the brain's performance, there are some other benefits to the Internet. For instance, the Internet can help to combat loneliness. It's a good way to connect with old friends, through Facebook, Myspace,, and other social online sites, and to make new ones.

It's easy to make connections with people by going to chat rooms, commenting on a Web site's message board, starting a blog (a personal narrative that is posted online) and asking for comments, joining a dating website, and so on. Chat rooms on a multitude of subjects are out there in the World Wide Web.

Depending on where you live, it might not be easy to find a support group to help you through a difficult time or challenge, but it is with the Internet. The Internet makes reaching out to people easy and less intimidating than face-to-face encounters. The Internet also provides countless sites filled with lots of information and advice on just about any topic you're interested in.

With the Internet, supportive people and helpful advice are a click-of-the-mouse away. And if you're interested in becoming physically fit, you can get a tailor-made diet online, as well as your own virtual personal trainer. So when you hear yet again how bad the Internet is, just remember that research shows it may also be good for your health! And as with so many things, if you use it in moderation, you'll be just fine.

Recommended Reading

Internet Safety for Kids: Seven Signs Your Child May be at Risk

The World's #1 Internet Threat May be Robbing Your Identity Right Now

Sources Negative Effects of Internet Usage. July 25, 2006.

BBC News. Internet Use 'Good for the Brain'. October 14, 2008. Internet Searching Increases Brain Function: Study. October 14, 2008.

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