Some people use the internet for their primary source of information, and they’ve lost their skills at turning the pages on books, encyclopedias, newspapers and dictionaries. The internet is great, and many people have a connected device. The challenge, however, is making sure what’s read is real. Unfortunately, much internet data hasn’t undergone the same critical checks as most print media.

Reading should be considered learning from great minds of long ago. The more that’s read, the more that’s known. But there are websites dedicated to providing readers what they call facts. Unfortunately, depending on what their editor wants the public to think, they often spout untruths.

The internet allows people who have common interest to share views or to reconnect with previously lost contacts. People can hide behind false profiles, write dirty or hurtful remarks, mention political views, fake news, or use profanity that they wouldn’t use under most face-to-face circumstances. They can share their bed time, what they had to eat, their love life, their woes, their likes, and their dislikes. They can even use social media when they’re getting paid to work. Volumes of people with an internet connection feel like they have a subliminal right to criticize, disparage, or provoke anyone they wish.

Around each corner and each stroke of the keyboard lies a criminal who wants to steal personal information. The internet poses huge dangers for children of all ages, and it can create social isolation. Family conversation can be meaningful, historic and life altering, but sadly, it’s not unusual to see a family sitting silent with all noses buried in an electronic device.

The internet can be addictive, it can cause reduced productivity, and it can build and destroy relationships. In some cases, it can be more deadly than smoking, HIV, high diving and jumping out of airplanes, because abusers are sedentary. It multiplies the risk of obesity, cancer, coronary disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and more. Abusers can be sedentary to death.

Lots of people privately send their nude or risqué pictures to their special someone over the internet. When that special someone becomes un-special, those pictures are often shared for many voyeurs to enjoy. Unfortunately, images shared on the internet never go away. Brutal or sadistic predators have been known to use the internet to entice victims into dangerous social media sites or deadly meetings.

Lots of sites focus on obtaining and sharing as much people information as possible. A person’s age, gender, income, diet, weight, browsing habits, allergies, and type of work can be used to entice people to purchase various products.

Through cookies, browsing history and other methods, some internet sites are personal information warehouses. People can innocently, unknowingly or freely give their private statistics to these sites.

Hordes of cellphones today are connected to the internet. Many people don’t consider the dangers of mobile applications (App/s) because they freely give them anything they ask for. Many apps request permission to have access to an address book, locations, messages, all photos and more. Just because an app is deleted doesn’t mean that the permissions given to that app have been deleted. The app can hide those permissions in various locations on devices, and just like pictures on the internet, they never go away.

It may not be intentional that complete personal information is given to an app, but the dirty deed is done as soon as the word “Accept” is clicked. People who do this are simply handing over their private information to non-caring app developers or dishonest data miners.

Many apps ask users to give them access to a host of permissions that they don’t need. It’s incumbent on the user to decide if releasing personal information makes installing the app worthwhile.

Crimes are usually clandestine, but there is nothing clandestine about what’s shared on the internet. Laws are supposed to protect users from criminal websites that illegally collect and share information, but criminals don’t have a reputation for obeying laws.

If personal information is inappropriately given to an app, the user will likely be the biggest loser. The internet offers lots of excitement, it also offers lots of questionable opinions. Modern video and audio modification tools allow realistic looking news footage to be created. It’s okay to use the internet for a primary source of information, but the old adage stands true, “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

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Charlie Sewell is a retired Powder Springs police chief who lives in Cherokee County. His book “I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Reminiscences Filled With Twists of Devilment, Devotion and A Little Danger” is available on Amazon. Email him at