With the world wide web turning 25 this year, reporter Berny Torre spoke to Crawley residents about how the explosion of the internet has changed their lives.
Young people highlighted “uncontrollable” cyber-bullying and the dangers of extremist propaganda.
Older people shared their excitement of keeping up with the rapidly changing technology.
Others said they met their partners online and some enjoyed the irony of responding using their smart phones.
Tumsil Abbas, 18, of Langley Green, youth mayor and a member of Crawley Young Persons Council, said cyber-bullying was “uncontrollable” because the culprits could not be challenged in person.
He said: “Some like to stand face-to-face and bully you and some like to have themselves hidden away and more often they do that.
“With traditional bullying you can go to the person and tell them what you’re doing is wrong but online you have to report them and it takes time and you don’t want it to take time because you want it to end as quickly as possible.”
He added: “I’ve had friends who’ve been bullied online and it’s affected a big part of their lives. They committed self harm – it was coming towards suicide.”
Tumsil spoke of a friend who was bullied online at the age of 16. The harassment stopped after the victim self harmed and adults stepped in to challenge the bullies, who only ever spoke to their victim online.
Tumsil praised talks held by police and other community groups about cyber-bullying in Crawley primary schools.
He said: “It’s really effective. A community group came into my school and I didn’t really know about cyber-bullying and how it affects people before that.”
Tumsil added young people “see too much too soon” on the internet.
He said he was targeted by racists after they had read online hate messages about Abdul Waheed Majid, of Langley Green, who allegedly carried out a suicide bombing in Syria.
Tumsil said: “As a young person I’ve read from many sources on the internet. The racism is mind-boggling.
“They are really bad comments for a young person to see.”
However Tumsil believed the advantages of growing up with technology outweighed the dangers young people face online.
Speaking of the positive aspects, he said: “Social media let’s you stay in contact with your friends and play games online, which is what young people want.”
Tumsil admitted fears over being unable to keep up with pace the internet is advancing.
He said: “It will be easier for the 21st century generation to use the internet than it is for me.
“It’s quite scary but as long as our generation keeps up-to-date with technology it should be alright.”
People aged 50 and over were invited to celebrate the web’s 25th birthday at an Age UK centre on April 12.
The charity runs a computer club at The Silver Birch Centre in Tilgate.
Pensioners who use the service expressed their excitement at learning to use the web to shop, bank and stay in touch with old friends.
Eileen Wharton-Howard, 64, who had used computers for most of her working life, said: “I mainly use the web to buy bits and pieces, especially on Amazon!
“It’s amazing what you can find out on the web.”
Vick Martin, 90, used the web to learn how to fix things and bank online.
He said: “I use the web mainly as a serach engine.
“I have used computers in the past and am amazed at how the web has developed over the last 25 years.”
A 63-year-old user said: “The drop-in sessions here at the centre have changed my life.
“I’m achieving things I never thought possible such as speaking to a friend in Chicago.
“I had broadband for three years at home but didn’t know how to use my laptop.”
Andy Wilson, the voluntary IT tutor for the club, said demand for more advanced tuition at the sessions had increased.
He said: “I love what I do and get a real sense of achievement and pride seeing our members growing in confidence and ability, embracing this new technology and using it to enrich their lives.”
Tim Berners-Lee filed a proposal of what became the world wide web on March 12, 1989.
The web is a way data is transmitted over the internet.
It uses a string of characters to locate online documents.
The internet is the infrastructure that connects networks, including computers, cables and servers, across the world.