How many teenagers use Internet in their daily life? According to a Pew Research Center Report of 2005 quoted in article “It’s fun, but does it make you smarter?” by Erika Packard (Packard, 2007), 87 percent of 12 to 17-year old children are now online. We know that Internet is widely used all over the world, and its users are diverse ranging in age from very young to very old. Is Internet good for very young children? I doubt it, especially when it comes to not so good aspects of children developing their social lives. The paper addresses three aspects that cover social life of children in reality, online bullying over social networking, and crime over Internet.
In the article “are children smarter (or more socialized) because of the Internet”, author Wishah Khalid (Khalid, 2013) says “these days a lot of children by the age of 2 years old will know how go on the Internet, work a cell phone and know how to play video games”. The authors’ statement is certainly true! It is not hard to find some kids as young as 5 years holding an iPad in a restaurant. It seems that Internet has become one of their choice new toys. Some parents, particularly those who are too lazy to spend time with their children, give them electronic devices like a smart phone or a tablet so that they can “quietly sit at the restaurant”. However, this is definitely a bad practice and children would adapt it as a habit when they grow thinking that as long as they are quiet during the meal, they can just use their phone and ignore the family. Such an atmosphere is completely losing the meaning of having meal with family or friends.
Often, we hear parents proudly complain that their children have many “friends” on Facebook or some other social network and they have very positive image of online. However, the children do not talk much in reality because of not having many friends hang out with him/her. I think not talking much is abnormal normal because the mode we get in social online is completely different from social life in reality. People have more reaction time to respond to others and many methods assist us to beautify our profile online. Rich social online life does not equate to more socialized life.
Second, cyber bullying also happens often on the Internet. As people on the Internet communicate with each other behind the screen, they have less control and morality on what they say toward others. Sometimes, it is very easy to create a cyber bullying and pressure on young people. It is not uncommon to hear from news that a kid killed himself/herself because of the torture of cyber bullying by classmates or an anonymous party. Children are not mature enough to handle the power of words in a conversation and they do not know how certain words might hurt people. Meanwhile, offending children cannot also take the pressure against using the words that can cause bad results.
Third, crime can happen because of Internet. Many online dating websites provide a platform for people to meet friends. Sometimes, people do not use their real identity to meet friends. It is okay if people just use fake identity but do no harm to others. However, sometimes people might ask for meeting each other in reality and these encounters can turn out to crimes like robbery, raping, or even murders. First, children do not have as good an analyzing ability as adults and they can be misled easily. Second, when there is danger when meet up, children may not be stronger like adults to fight back.
In conclusion, Internet usage from very young age does not assist children on developing social skills of real life. The social methods in the Internet and in the real life are completely different. In addition, children may not be able to control the power of words and speech, which would harm people. Moreover, because children are still young, they might put themselves in danger through online relationships.
Khalid, Wishah. Are Children Smarter (or more socialized) because of the Internet? (2013): https://prezi.com/592cw5jwbh79/are-children-smarter-or-more-socialized-because-of-the-internet/
Packard, Erika. "It's fun, but does it make you smarter?." Monitor on Psychology 38.10 (2007): 44-46.