Use the Internet in a Wise Way
THE Internet makes it possible for us to have knowledge about almost anything, anywhere, at any time. It is not surprising that people everywhere in the world use it to communicate.
The ability to communicate is a wonderful gift from our Creator. It allows us to exchange ideas and information with others. Jehovah was the first to communicate with the human family. He gave them clear information about how to have a life full of meaning. (Genesis 1:28-30) But it is possible to use the gift of communication in the wrong way. This is what happened in the beginning of human history. Satan gave Eve false information. She believed what he said, and she told Adam. Adam acted on the false information, and his actions made all humans suffer.—Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12.
The Internet can give us access to important information and help us do things faster. But it can also give false information, take a lot of time from other things, and make it very easy to look at immoral things. Let us talk about how we can use the Internet in a wise way.
IS THE INFORMATION TRUE OR FALSE?
Do not think that all information on the Internet is good. When we search the Internet, we can get the very best kind or the very worst kind of information. We need to be wise and separate the good from the bad.
Today, anyone with an Internet connection can pretend to be an expert and to have a lot of knowledge. And people do not even have to use their names. Anyone can publish ideas, information, photographs, and suggestions.
Do not trust the information immediately. Before you trust it, ask: (1) Who published this information? Is the writer someone we can trust? (2) Why was it published? Why was it written? Is the writer a fair person, or is he just promoting his own ideas? (3) Where did the writer get the information? Does he say where he got the information so that people can check it? (4) Is the information up-to-date? In the first century, the apostle Paul gave Timothy some advice that is just as important for us today. Paul wrote: “Guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’”—1 Timothy 6:20.
DOES THE INTERNET SAVE TIME OR WASTE TIME?
If we use the Internet in a wise way, it can help us use less of our time, energy, and money. We can conveniently buy something without leaving home. It can help us to find the best price. Instead of going to a bank, people can pay bills, transfer money, and do other things like that from home. The Internet can help us plan a trip and buy tickets. It is also easy to search for phone numbers, addresses, and directions. Branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world use many of these services and benefit from them.
But there are some dangers. For example, we have to think about how much time we use on the Internet. Some spend too much time playing, shopping, chatting, e-mailing, searching, and surfing the Web. They sometimes forget about their family, friends, and congregation. They can become addicted to the Internet.
A branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses received a letter from someone who called himself an Internet junkie, meaning that he was addicted to the Internet. Some days he was on the Internet for ten hours. He said that “at first, it all seemed so innocent.” But then he started to miss meetings and stopped praying. When he went to the meetings, he was not prepared and thought only about when he was going to “be able to log on again.” In time, he understood that he had a serious problem, and he made the necessary changes. We should never use so much time on the Internet that we become addicted to it.
WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION DO YOU LOOK AT?
We read at 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine. Abstain from every form of wickedness.” When we look at something on the Internet, we need to remember what Jehovah thinks of it. What we look at should be morally clean and appropriate for a Christian. Internet pornography has become very common. If we are not careful, it can very easily become a problem for us.
To help us decide about what we should or should not look at on the Internet, think about this question: ‘Is what I watch on the screen something I would quickly hide from my husband (or wife), my parents, or my Christian brothers if they entered the room?’ If the answer is yes, it would be better to use the Internet only when others are with us. The Internet has completely changed the way people communicate and shop. But it has also shown people a new way to commit adultery in their hearts.—Matthew 5:27, 28.
WHAT SHOULD WE FORWARD TO OTHERS?
When we use the Internet, we often exchange information with people. We must be sure that the information we write or forward to others is true, is not immoral, and is information we have permission to give.a (See footnote.) We should think about this: Is the information going to help others? Why do we want to tell others about it? Is it just to impress others?
E-mail can be very useful when we use it the right way. But it can also give us a lot of unnecessary information. Are we giving others too much to read, maybe using more of their time than we should? Should we not think about why we are sending an e-mail before we hit the send button? In the past, people wrote letters to their family and friends to tell them about what was happening in their life. This should be what our e-mail is mainly about. Why send to others something that we cannot prove is true?
So, what should you do about the Internet? Should you not use it at all? For some this may be necessary. The Internet junkie whom we talked about earlier had to do that. The Internet can be helpful to you if you use “thinking ability” and allow it to “keep guard over you.”—Proverbs 2:10, 11.
a We can say the same thing about photos. We may take pictures of others for our own use. But we do not have the right to show these pictures to just anybody or to tell others the names of the people in the photos and where they live.
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How can you be sure that the information you are getting is true?
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What should you think about before you hit the send button?