Effects of the Internet on Teenagers Behaviour
This is an issue that has been a global ongoing debate. Nowadays, so many teenagers draw the information that guides their day to day activities from the internet, from health, fashion, education, entertainment and even their relationships. It would be right to say that the internet caters to almost their every need. It is slowly becoming an indispensable part of their life. So the logical question that comes in at this point is whether or not the influence it has on these teenagers is positive or negative, and what steps can be taken to minimize if not eliminate the negative effect?
Research shows a very interesting perspective. Parents have facilitated in exposing their teenagers to the internet since to some parents, it is an integral part of their day to day lives. With the internet, anything becomes possible. When accessing information, it is fast, reliable and cheap as compared to other means of information e.g. books. Through it, the world becomes a global village. It has also brought certain services closer, e.g. shopping, booking tickets, paying of bills and online banking all at the click of a button. It is today’s generation educative technique (Creative.sulekha.com 2). With such convenience attached to the internet and so many advantages, does it have any disadvantages and if so do these pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the teenagers of our time?
In (Creative.sulekha.com), the author describes the internet as a ‘nuclear exploitive technique’ due to its negative effects on teenagers. The internet does happen to carry its fair share of unwanted sites. For example the alarming influx of chatting and porn websites where teenagers tend to waste volumes of their time, instead of channeling that time into more productive activities. The author concludes by saying that there are two sides to the internet, a side that can enhance productivity and another that inhibits productivity. It all depends on how the teenager decides to use it.
The question that arises at this juncture is, are there only two sides to this coin? Is this issue in regards to the internet and teenagers multifaceted? According to the analysis done by Kaur (2015), the internet is a boon and its misuse should be avoided so that it may not become a bane. In this article, the author describes the internet as his first reference point in any puzzling matter that he encounters. Currently, it is the only source of efficient information invented. The author describes it as versatile. He continues to praise its benefits giving examples such as its usefulness in booking holidays in distant places, running individual campaigns, meeting likeminded people from different walks of life and many others asks that would cost you a lot of time and money if done physically. The list, he says is not exhaustible. It is therefore no surprise when people all over the world are finding the internet as a necessity in their lives.
Parents with teenagers are however worried that their teenagers are hooked to the net and have on time for extracurricular activities, a vital component for a teenager to be all rounded. It is like a drug to them. The author links this scenario to a similar one that occurred a couple of decades ago; when television found its way into the living rooms of numerous homesteads all over the world. Most parents just like the parents in those times find themselves complaining about the grip the internet has over their children. The question the author poses, brings in another perspective to this issue; the issue of character. Could this factor be closely linked to the character of the teenager rather than the internet? There are teenagers in the world who use the internet and also involve themselves in other outdoor activities. Is it then right to blame the knife simply because other people use it to stab others?
The author goes on to say that parents ought to invest in character building of their teenagers as a way of enabling them to realize their limits when using the internet. It however is a complicated avenue considering the fact that in this day and age, with so much information t go on, it is not possible to raise children on a fixed set of rules for these value systems tend to overlap. This is the situation encountered by parents in urban India.
According to author, the only way to overcome internet-addiction is by teaching teenagers how to exercise self-control. This is a role that must be taken up by the society if the future generations are to be saved from unproductive behavior. Some governments are working towards banning misused internet industries such as pornography and gambling industries. Many however do not see it as a priority.
In some countries such as Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, various websites have been blacklisted. At an individual level, introduction of content-control software have been adopted by parents and guardians. This may not be a full proof method since some teenagers know how to hack such software, but it is a start. Parents and guardians recognize the fact that character building is vital. If a child’s character is strong, even in the midst of exposure of destructive websites and the duration spent browsing, a child will be able to control their internet consumption without any supervision.
In Srva (2011), the author brings a black and white perspective; the pros and cons of internet to teenagers. In this article, basically all the advantages and disadvantages are outlined and the author finally concludes by pointing out the fact that the internet is a boon and that it equips people with skills and knowledge to cope with the ever changing world. However, there are always two sides to every situation. Similar to the first article, it is up to the user to prioritize the pros and avoid the cones.
Targetstudy.com, (2015) is yet another article that aims to shed light on this matter. The author describes the internet as a tool that has ushered in a new era in this time and has a hold on teenagers. Its affordability and availability has enhanced its accessibility to teenagers. The Internet can be described as a pool of information on any topic. It is also full of applications that can be used in different aspect people’s lives. Some teenagers however use the internet to conduct crimes e.g. hacking. The author here outlines the benefits and flaws of internet use.
According to him, some the ways teenagers use the internet include online searches of educational opportunities depending on their interests. It is also easy to understand various topics that seem difficult in class when presented in the form of a video. In turn their interest in learning is heightened. Lessons taught in this way are more exciting and memorable to teenagers. Benefits linked to this kind of learning include a self drive towards learning. A teenager also learns research skills independently. When compared to other learning sources, through the internet one gets to obtain the latest material. One can access government organizational, personal and non-government websites, both in print and softcopy. One of the benefits linked to the internet is it sharpens a student’s skills on researching for relevant information. Teachers also get to incorporate internet-based activities into their school curriculum. This brings diversity into their teaching strategies.
It also promotes inter-cultural understanding. Sometimes students are given assignments that involve the study of other cultures. The student in this case gets to enhance their literacy skills since they may resort to emailing their online friends for information. Teenagers also learn the importance of following rules and respecting norms since the search engines on the internet are governed by protocol. By studying these protocols, one learns the value of law and learns to respect it. Through the internet, teenagers who are on holiday or done with school are able to search for jobs online hence keeping them occupied when they have time to spare. They are also able to apply for collage through this means.
In this article the author acknowledges the fact that there is also another side to the coin it relation to the internet. Some of the reasons the author includes are the fact that a lot of teenagers struggle with internet addiction. Some result to medical treatment as a way of curbing their addiction. Such teenagers have strong urges to always blog, log in to chat rooms or visit certain websites. Some people are known to have begun these addictions since their teenage years, a habit that they carried into their adulthood and have cost them their jobs and relationships. Teenagers tend to waste so much time online and this is reflected in poor grades and their school life suffers. It also affects them physically and mentally.
Some teenagers are known to indulge themselves in illegal activities like downloading illegal software, preying on innocent users for money, hacking other people’s documents and spreading viruses. This puts them in a lot of trouble with the law.
Teenagers with a habit of logging into chat rooms may fall prey to pedophiles who visit such chat rooms intentionally with the aim of luring them and eventually harming them. Certain teenagers have been known to trade in their reality for the internet and would rather build relationships online rather than real relationships. Such children live in a fake reality and tend to be illusional. These teenagers use the internet as an escape pod from reality and the problems they face. This is a wrong notion and can have dangerous effects in their character and the way they relate with their environments.
Despite of the internet being a hub of beneficial information, it is not entirely reliable since some information may be doctored or bias for advertisement purposes. Some information posted on the net is quite destructive and in the hands of a disturbed teenager, it may be dangerous to the people around them e.g. bomb making tutorials.
According to News medical.com (2015), close to 80% of the teenagers surf the internet for various reasons. Just like previous articles the author also agrees with the fact that the internet has both a negative or positive impact on teenagers, it is therefore up to the reader to decide which path to trend on. Here, the author points to the fact that teenager reveals different sexual identities online as compared to reality. Further studies have revealed al link between the internet and teenagers who self inflict injuries without an aim of committing suicide. Certain teenagers who are usually isolated find friendships online and with the wrong friendships these teenagers may be manipulated to commit dangerous offences, self inflict injuries or are taken advantage of by malicious individuals preying on their vulnerability.
It can also be a good source of information for teenagers whose parents are illiterate and may not be well aware of the importance of advising their children regarding their sexuality; a case witnessed with out-of-school-youths in Ghana.
Cumulatively, the different articles analyzed here have a common denominator, that the internet has both positive and negative effect on teenagers, depending on how the teenagers choose to exploit it. However, as pointed out in the second article analyzed, helping them build on their character is a way of minimizing the negative use of the internet by these teenagers. Imposing laws that bar exploitation of various destructive websites is yet another way.
Sulekha Creative. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from
Kaur, R. (2015). Speech on Internet: a Boon or a Bane. Shareyouressays.com. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from http://www.shareyouressays.com/118272/speech-on-internet-a-boon-or-a-bane.
Group Discussion Ideas: Internet – a boon or a bane?. Groupdiscussionideas.blogspot.in. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from http://groupdiscussionideas.blogspot.in/2011/05/internet-boon-or-bane.html
Targetstudy.com, (2015). Is Internet a Boon or Bane for Students?. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from https://targetstudy.com/articles/is-internet-a-boon-or-bane-for-students.html
News medical.com, (2015) Good and bad sides of the Internet as it relates to children. Retrieved from; http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/05/03/17670.aspx